Watch the New Trailer for Wes Anderson’s Stop Motion Film, Isle of Dogs, Inspired by Akira Kurosawa

It sur­prised every­one, even die-hard fans, when Wes Ander­son announced that he would not just adapt Roald Dahl’s chil­dren’s book Fan­tas­tic Mr. Fox for the screen, but do it with stop-motion ani­ma­tion. But after we’d all giv­en it a bit of thought, it made sense: Ander­son­’s films and Dahl’s sto­ries do share a cer­tain sense of inven­tive humor, and step­ping away from live action would final­ly allow the direc­tor of such detail-ori­ent­ed pic­tures as Rush­moreThe Roy­al Tenen­baums, and The Life Aquat­ic with Steve Zis­sou fuller con­trol over the visu­als. Eight years lat­er, we find Ander­son over­see­ing anoth­er team of ani­ma­tors to tell anoth­er, even more fan­tas­ti­cal-look­ing sto­ry, this one set not in an Eng­land of the past but a Japan of the future.

There, accord­ing to the pro­jec­t’s new­ly released trail­er, “canine sat­u­ra­tion has reached epic pro­por­tions. An out­break of dog flu rips through the city of Megasa­ki. May­or Kobayashi issues emer­gency orders call­ing for a hasty quar­an­tine. Trash Island becomes an exile colony: the Isle of Dogs.” Equals in fur­ri­ness, if not attire, to Fan­tas­tic Mr. Fox’s wood­land friends and voiced by the likes of Jeff Gold­blum, Scar­let Johans­son, Til­da Swin­ton, and of course Bill Mur­ray (in a cast also includ­ing Japan­ese per­form­ers like Ken Watan­abe, Mari Nat­su­ki, and Yoko Ono — yes, that Yoko Ono), the canines of var­i­ous col­ors and sizes forcibly relo­cat­ed to the bleak tit­u­lar set­ting must band togeth­er into a kind of rag­tag fam­i­ly.

Ander­son must find him­self very much at home in this the­mat­ic ter­ri­to­ry by now. It would also have suit­ed the tow­er­ing fig­ure in Japan­ese film to whom Isle of Dogs pays trib­ute. Although Ander­son has cit­ed the 1960s and 70s stop-ani­ma­tion hol­i­day spe­cials of Rankin/Bass like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Rein­deer and The Lit­tle Drum­mer Boy — all pro­duced, inci­den­tal­ly, in Japan — as one inspi­ra­tion, he also said on an ArteTV Q&A ear­li­er this year that “the new film is real­ly less influ­enced by stop-motion movies than it is by Aki­ra Kuro­sawa.” Per­haps he envi­sioned Atari Kobayashi, the boy who jour­neys to Trash Island to retrieve his lost com­pan­ion, as a twelve-year-old ver­sion of one of Kuro­sawa’s lone heroes.

And per­haps it owes to Kuro­sawa that the set­ting — at least from what the trail­er reveals — com­bines ele­ments of an imag­ined future with the look and feel of Japan’s rapid­ly devel­op­ing mid-20th cen­tu­ry, a peri­od that has long fas­ci­nat­ed Ander­son in its Euro­pean incar­na­tions but one cap­tured crisply in Kuro­sawa’s home­land in crime movies like High and Low and The Bad Sleep Well. Ander­son has made lit­tle to no ref­er­ence to the Land of the Ris­ing Sun before, but his inter­est makes sense: no land bet­ter under­stands what Ander­son has expressed more vivid­ly with every project, the rich­ness of the aes­thet­ic mix­ture of the past and future that always sur­rounds us. And from what I could tell on my last vis­it there, its dog sit­u­a­tion remains bless­ed­ly under con­trol — for now.

via Uncrate

Relat­ed Con­tent:

A Com­plete Col­lec­tion of Wes Ander­son Video Essays

The Geo­met­ric Beau­ty of Aki­ra Kuro­sawa and Wes Anderson’s Films

Wes Ander­son & Yasu­jiro Ozu: New Video Essay Reveals the Unex­pect­ed Par­al­lels Between Two Great Film­mak­ers

Acci­den­tal Wes Ander­son: Every Place in the World with a Wes Ander­son Aes­thet­ic Gets Doc­u­ment­ed by Red­dit

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities and cul­ture. He’s at work on the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les, 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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