Wes Anderson’s Animated Books

It was 2012, and Focus Fea­tures flew me and about three dozen oth­er jour­nal­ists to inter­view Wes Ander­son for his lat­est movie Moon­rise King­dom right on the beach at Cannes. Though the day was hot enough to pro­duce more than a few leath­ery top­less sun­bathers, Ander­son wore the exact ‘80s-style beige cor­duroy suit you might expect him to wear. Just like his eccen­tric, iron­ic — and giv­en the set­ting, uncom­fort­able — sar­to­r­i­al choic­es, Anderson’s movies are dis­tinc­tive from frame one. He is Hollywood’s cur­rent reign­ing for­mal­ist.

Moon­rise King­dom is prob­a­bly his most suc­cess­ful recent movie. Though the film is filled with his trade­mark sym­met­ri­cal fram­ing, dead­pan set design and off-kil­ter jux­ta­po­si­tions, the film nev­er feels like self-par­o­dy, unlike some of his pre­vi­ous movies — think Dar­jeel­ing Lim­it­ed. Set on the remote New Pen­zance Island in 1965, Moon­rise is about a star-crossed pre-teen love affair between Sam, a pre­co­cious bespec­ta­cled boy scout in a coon­skin cap, and Suzy, a trou­bled teen who favors sad­dle shoes, rac­coon-like eye make­up and above all books. Before she steals away into the woods with Sam, she stuffs her suit­case with six of her favorite (fic­ti­tious) books, all swiped from the local library.

Ander­son fea­tures the books promi­nent­ly in the movie, giv­ing them titles like The Girl from Jupiter or Dis­ap­pear­ance of the 6th Grade. Each book was designed by artists that Ander­son per­son­al­ly com­mis­sioned. Though Suzy reads parts from three of the books in the film, Ander­son orig­i­nal­ly had a much grander vision: “At one point in the process, when she’s read­ing these pas­sages from these books,” he told Enter­tain­ment Week­ly. “I’d thought about going into ani­ma­tion.” The film­mak­er had just com­plet­ed his stop­mo­tion movie The Fan­tas­tic Mr. Fox; clear­ly, ani­ma­tion was on Anderson’s mind.

Ulti­mate­ly, Ander­son decid­ed against this approach, but the idea still appar­ent­ly intrigued him. So here it is as a pro­mo­tion­al piece for Moon­rise. In the span of six weeks, blind­ing­ly fast for ani­ma­tion, Ander­son and his pro­duc­er Jere­my Daw­son man­aged to ani­mate pas­sages from all six books – writ­ten by the film­mak­er – in the style of the book cov­ers. The video is host­ed by Bob Bal­a­ban who played the Moon­rise King­dom’s tuque-sport­ing nar­ra­tor.

“I think we all just pitched in and we pulled a lot of favors because it was not like we spent a ton of mon­ey doing it,” said Daw­son to EW. “Peo­ple got excit­ed about it because it was a cre­ative thing rather than if they were mak­ing a Snick­ers ad or some­thing.”

You can see the results above.

Via Enter­tain­ment Week­ly

Relat­ed Con­tent: 

Watch 7 New Video Essays on Wes Anderson’s Films: Rush­moreThe Roy­al Tenen­baums & More

Wes Anderson’s Favorite Films: Moon­struckRosemary’s Baby, and Luis Buñuel’s The Exter­mi­nat­ing Angel

Watch Wes Anderson’s Charm­ing New Short Film, Castel­lo Cav­al­can­ti, Star­ring Jason Schwartz­man

Wes Anderson’s First Short Film: The Black-and-White, Jazz-Scored Bot­tle Rock­et (1992)

Jonathan Crow is a Los Ange­les-based writer and film­mak­er whose work has appeared in Yahoo!, The Hol­ly­wood Reporter, and oth­er pub­li­ca­tions. You can fol­low him at @jonccrow. And check out his blog Veep­to­pus, fea­tur­ing lots of pic­tures of vice pres­i­dents with octo­pus­es on their heads.  The Veep­to­pus store is here.

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