All of Wes Anderson’s Cinematic Commercials: Watch His Spots for Prada, American Express, H&M & More

They say a film­mak­er qual­i­fies as an auteur if you can iden­ti­fy their work from any giv­en shot. That might strike even cinephiles as a dif­fi­cult task unless the film­mak­er in ques­tion is Wes Ander­son, who for twen­ty years’ worth of fea­ture films now has defined and refined a cin­e­mat­ic style increas­ing­ly unique to him and his host of reg­u­lar col­lab­o­ra­tors. What qual­i­ties con­sti­tute the unmis­tak­ably Ander­son­ian? Vibrant col­ors, espe­cial­ly red and yel­low. Old build­ings. Uni­forms. The sounds of the British Inva­sionPer­fect sym­me­try. The tech­nol­o­gy of the mid-twen­ti­eth-cen­tu­ry as well as vin­tage Amer­i­can and Euro­pean design of that era. An eye for the imag­ined past as well as the past’s imag­ined future (and its use of Futu­ra). And of course, Bill Mur­ray.

Ander­son has used dif­fer­ent com­bi­na­tions of these and oth­er aes­thet­ic choic­es not just in all his full-length films from Bot­tle Rock­et to The Grand Budapest Hotel, but also in his com­mer­cials. Giv­en the uncom­pro­mis­ing look and feel of his “real” fil­mog­ra­phy as well as its over­all suc­cess at the box office, one might not at first imag­ine Ander­son as the kind of auteur with the need, desire, or even abil­i­ty to make adver­tise­ments.

But make them he does, an aspect of his career that actu­al­ly began with a self-par­o­dy­ing 2004 Amer­i­can Express com­mer­cial star­ring the direc­tor him­self, hard at work on his lat­est, albeit fic­tion­al, qui­et spec­ta­cle of metic­u­lous­ness and anachro­nism (which also has explo­sions).

Ever the throw­back, Ander­son next shot a com­mer­cial for Japan, that land where, in the days before Youtube, so many Amer­i­can celebri­ties used to go to cash in on their image unbe­knownst to their West­ern pub­lic. Specif­i­cal­ly, he shot it for the Japan­ese telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions giant Soft­bank, cast­ing Brad Pitt as a Jacques Tati-style vaca­tion­er, good-natured if bum­bling and pos­sessed of an eye for the ladies, in the French coun­try­side. Two years lat­er, he and fre­quent writ­ing part­ner Roman Cop­po­la returned to his beloved ear­ly 1960s for Apartomat­ic, a spot for Stel­la Artois (a brand that has also employed the likes of Wim Wen­ders) that brings to life every young man’s fan­ta­sy of the ulti­mate auto­mat­ed bach­e­lor pad.

In 2012, Mod­ern Life and Talk To My Car, a pair of thir­ty-sec­ond com­mer­cials for a new Hyundai sedan, brought Ander­son back into the present. Nat­u­ral­ly, he deliv­ered a present deeply root­ed in the dreams of decades past, which, when the idea is to sell a prod­uct as sat­u­rat­ed with the mythol­o­gy of the post­war years as an auto­mo­bile, does the job ide­al­ly. “After months of cre­ative devel­op­ment on the new Hyundai Azera we were almost out of time to pro­duce the launch spots,” writes cre­ative direc­tor Robert Prins. “At the last minute some­one sug­gest­ed ask­ing Wes Ander­son to direct. We all laughed. Then he said yes.” Imag­ine the result­ing jeal­ousy in the con­fer­ence rooms of ad agen­cies all over the world, where the talk con­stant­ly ref­er­ences Ander­son­’s work with­out ever touch­ing the gen­uine arti­cle.

The fol­low­ing year, we fea­tured Castel­lo Cav­al­can­ti, Ander­son­’s eight-minute short film star­ring Jason Schwartz­man (who became an Ander­son reg­u­lar, and a star in his own right, in Rush­more fif­teen years ear­li­er) as a race car dri­ver who crash­es into a strange­ly famil­iar vil­lage some­where in 1955 Italy. He shot it at Rome’s leg­endary Cinecit­tà stu­dio at the behest of a cer­tain Ital­ian brand called Pra­da (per­haps you’ve heard of them) and in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Cop­po­la also put togeth­er Pra­da: Can­dy, a series of three some­what more straight­for­ward com­mer­cials embed­ded as a playlist just above. Set in France this time, they tell the Jules and Jim-esque sto­ry of twin broth­ers vying for the atten­tion of the same girl, a blonde bon viveuse who hap­pens to have the same name — and if you believe the mar­ket­ing, the same per­son­al­i­ty — as Prada’s fra­grance.

Just yes­ter­day we fea­tured Come Togeth­er, Ander­son­’s lat­est com­mer­cial direc­to­r­i­al effort with Adrien Brody play­ing the ded­i­cat­ed con­duc­tor of a bad­ly delayed pas­sen­ger train on Christ­mas Eve. Though it osten­si­bly comes as noth­ing more than a pro­mo­tion for fast-fash­ion retail­er H&M, thou­sands of fans have already thrilled to this new glimpse into Ander­son­’s world — a make-believe one, but “we are all make-believe, too, every one of us,” as GQ’s Chris Heath puts it, “each self-assem­bled from a hotch­potch of dreams and expe­ri­ences and wish­es and ambi­tions and set­backs (and, yes, what we buy and what we say and what we wear and the way we choose to wear it, and all the rest of it).” Ander­son him­self might well agree. But when, we all won­der, will a brand come his way wor­thy of a com­mer­cial star­ring Bill Mur­ray?

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Has Wes Ander­son Sold Out? Can He Sell Out? Crit­ics Take Up the Debate

A Com­plete Col­lec­tion of Wes Ander­son Video Essays

A Playlist of 172 Songs from Wes Ander­son Sound­tracks: From Bot­tle Rock­et to The Grand Budapest Hotel

Watch the Coen Broth­ers’ TV Com­mer­cials: Swiss Cig­a­rettes, Gap Jeans, Tax­es & Clean Coal

Wim Wen­ders Cre­ates Ads to Sell Beer (Stel­la Artois), Pas­ta (Bar­il­la), and More Beer (Car­ling)

Fellini’s Fan­tas­tic TV Com­mer­cials

David Lynch’s Sur­re­al Com­mer­cials

Jean-Luc Godard’s After-Shave Com­mer­cial for Schick

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities and cul­ture. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer, the video series The City in Cin­e­ma, the crowd­fund­ed jour­nal­ism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Ange­les Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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