Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A Journey in Wes Anderson Land

My journey in Wes Anderson Land started about two months ago, when I went to see a movie I was very excited to see - the name of the movie was Moonrise Kingdom.
Moonrise Kingdom is a film about a little scout that escapes scout camp with his newfound girlfriend who wears blue eye shadow and likes to read fantasy novels with female leading characters. It is also, and this is what made me pack my things and go into Wes Anderson Land, my present favourite movie of the year 2012.

I took seven longer stays at the seven grand cities in Wes Anderson Land, and three smaller ones in the three smaller towns, and I will tell you about these ten places in this travel report, but firstly I would like to evaluate the things that I was particularly puzzled and/ or intrigued by in Wes Anderson Land.
Yes, there are many surprises and gems to be found out there, and the ones I name here only represent a laughably small portion of them. Although I've been all around Wes Anderson Land, it's obvious that I was incapable of noticing every little corner of it - so if you have been there yourself and seen anything of interest, please share it with us in the guest comments' section on bottom.

Interesting observations

Welcome Signs
The signs that welcome you to a particular town or city are quite different of the ones we know from our own world. Many a time, they are somehow integrated in the nature and thus connect the city and the visitor to the environment in an interesting way. Sometimes, you might even walk so fast you don't even notice the sign - and then all of a sudden, you find yourself in the middle of the town. 
A particular mention here goes to the welcome sign of Moonrise Kingdom, which I found to be of a striking beauty. Sadly, I wasn't able to find a photo of it.

Wes Anderson likes to place small texts in many corners of his country.

People in Wes Anderson Land seem to be very fond of wearing headgear of interesting shape and colour. Especially fur hats are often seen in the winter time - even in summer - and other large hats have been observed many a time by myself. Most rememberable was a puffy ruby felt-hat worn by an eccentric high school student, and a rather scarlet wool hat worn by an eccentric documentary film maker.

This observation might have some connection to the previous one, as I had the impression that inhabitants of this country pay great attention to their looks. So they not only decorate themselves with accessories, but also try to make the best out of their misfortunes, such as an amblyopia. 
Most of the glasses these people wear are of the Woody-Allen-kind-of shape - thick frames and glasses, often black or silver. 

When needed to underline a very dramatic moment in Wes Anderson, the time suddenly seems to go much slower - people move as though they were walking through water, and very often, loud and atmospheric music starts playing. 

As we're speaking about it, music plays a very important role in this far-away country. It is instrumental at times, but very often sung by bands or single artists, and the use of the music is always heart-meltingly perfect.

As mentioned previously, Wes Anderson is peopled by a great bunch of eccentrics. We have over-enthusiastic high school students, speaking foxes, rich curl-heads with red Adidas-suits, blue-eyeshadowed loners, writers of strictly fictional short stories and many more. And all of them lovable in their own way.

Although I mentioned the seven "big cities", I was speaking in a more or less metaphorical way - inhabitants of Wes Anderson Land love the nature and like to spend a lot of time in motels inthemiddleofnowhere, on boats and on lonely islands. It's quite nice there, often feels like another time.

Sights/ places of interest

Now that you have hopefully got an impression of what it's like in Wes Anderson Land, I think it's time to speak about the ten stops one is able to make in Wes Anderson Land. As there are only seven grand ones, I will only select three "Essential Stops", by which I don't mean these are stops you have to do, but stops that I would/ will recommend to everyone.

Stop Nr. 1: Bottle Rocket, founded in 1994 (short stop)
Bottle Rocket was the first town to be founded in Wes Anderson land, and this makes it an interesting visit in itself. It has a slightly unfinished touch, which is why I preferred my stay in its bigger brother city, but if you visit the bigger brother you also need to visit this one. It's all black-and-white, and you might be lucky to meet a very young Owen Wilson with a funny hair cut.

Stop Nr. 2: Bottle Rocket, founded in 1996
This is the place where young Owen Wilson hangs out even longer at a time, and the things that happen here are a little more interesting than in the smaller version of the town. It's just as if there's more room for things and actions to unfold, more time you know... I particularly liked the light and happy atmosphere of the city.

Stop Nr. 3: Rushmore, founded in 1998 (ESSENTIAL STOP)
Rushmore is mostly a students' city, there are a lot of teenagers here, leaded by a young man called Max Fischer. He is the president of countless activities and definitely one of the most eccentric people I have met in Wes Anderson Land. He is strangely repulsive and sympathetic at the same time, I really am not sure of my relationship to him yet. 
The reason why Rushmore is one my essential stops, is that its nothing less but pure cult. You have to go there to understand, maybe it's the atmosphere, the college, the music, the happenings... I don't know. It has that something that makes a place quite perfect. And I have no idea what that something might be.

Stop Nr. 4: The Royal Tenenbaums, founded in 2001
Now, many people might call this an essential stop, actually this is the place I heard most about before seeing it myself. It was a nice place to be, although people were strange... but it somehow disappointed my nevertheless. What I expected was magic, and that was not what I got. 
Cult? Sure? Essential? Maybe, but only to argue with the people that have made it so.

Stop Nr. 5: The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, founded in 2004
I must say that Wes Anderson does take his time to found his cities, but at least all of them have something special to offer. My first impression of The Life Aquatic was an amused one, but not a very convinced one. I found it too strange, too cynic perhaps, too boring in a way. 
However, something happened along the road, while I was on my way to the next city, and actually never stopped until now; I started thinking about this city. The way it was built, the people in it - in particular Steve Zissou of course - and the brilliant and humorous way in which it connected to another land I visited some time ago, that of Jacques-Yves Cousteau.
My conclusion is that The Life Aquatic might not be an essential stop for anyone on the journey to Wes Anderson Land, and I understand if some people hate it, but to me it's a beautiful place with a beautiful content.

Stop Nr. 6+7: Hotel Chevalier and The Darjeeling Limited, founded in 2007 (ESSENTIAL STOP)
Hotel Chevalier is more of a suburban to The Darjeeling Limited, that's why I mention these two together. As you can see by its name, the Hotel Chevalier is mainly just a big hotel, and nothing much goes on there. However, you must have been there to fully grasp the greatness of The Darjeeling Limited, which is a city reminding of the India of our world.
People have said that nothing much goes on in The Darjeeling Limited either, but I say that's not true. I say that much but nothing happens here. It's a spiritual journey to go there, somehow, and the people you meet are just so full of flaws and so entirely lovable. And furthermore, it's very funny.

Stop Nr. 8: Fantastic Mr. Fox, founded in 2009
The place where animals talk and walk like humans, but are still convincingly animalistic. The best reason to visit this place: stop-motion. Never have I experienced this technique so beautifully used. Again, there is a lot of humour around here, which is another reason to visit it. And then, it is simply cute.

Stop Nr. 9: Cousin Ben Troop Screening with Jason Schwartzman, founded in 2012 (short stop)
This was by far the shortest stop on my journey, but nevertheless a very enjoyable one. I had the time to relax a little and let my brains stretch, you know... eat a little popcorn. It was nice.

Stop Nr. 10: Moonrise Kingdom, founded in 2012 (├╝ber-ESSENTIAL STOP)
My favourite stop on the whole journey - and also the first one. Moonrise Kingdom is a place of such intense beauty and harmony that I want to write a hymn on it whenever I think of it. Well, actually I already have. It was the perfect place to fall in love with Wes Anderson, and I don't regret searching for the perfection that I found in this one, in all those other places. 
In the end, I think that I did find it in each one of Wes Anderson's creations, and as Moonrise Kingdom is his latest one, I have great hopes for the future.

Terminatory, a great thanks to all of those that endured my metaphorical debaucheries on one of my latest favourite directors.


  1. Uber-adorable post. I love Wes Anderson Land. We like the same places, although I haven't been to the last two stops yet. Will hopefully visit soon.
    See you there :)

    1. That was fast!

      ...I'll be looking forward to meet you then, I know you will like it there :)

  2. Well, I am surprised our paths didn't cross. I am on my way to Bottle Rocket. Just left Tenenbaums Yesterday. Anyways, I am glad that we both loved Moonrise(yes, I did too) but I am with the majority - Tenenbaums has been my best stop yet.

    Great Post ! I will also do my profile around the Month End.

    1. Good luck for the rest of your journey then, I'm eager to read your report.

  3. My passport in Wes Anderson land is currently being held by the authorities and I'm stuck with just one place to visit.... Moonrise Kingdom!!! I've been waiting for very, very long time too.

    I'd say since this is your first journey here, you're in for a treat. I think the magic of his movies are in re-watches. The humour may not be laugh-out loud like other comedies, but those type of laughs lose their initial effect after time. I found with Wes Anderson's films, you get the same amusement on re-watches as you with first viewings. Oh, and give Tenabaums another go.. I thought it was just ok when I first saw it. Now its one of my all time favourites.

    1. Then I can't wait for the Moonrise Kingdom DVD to be released... it's a shame it so many people have not had the chance to visit it yet.

      I also might give the Tenenbaums another go, but I don't really know if I want to...


Let the discussion begin!