An Investigation of North America’s Loneliness Through Wes Anderson's Colourful Lens

by Maisie Cu

In December of last year, I had the chance to see “The French Dispatch” in the theatre. It is a rather complicated film to explain in the sense that it leaves the audience with a remnant of incomprehensible emotions. It is true that in trying to understand Wes Anderson’s movie, the audience is tantamount to taking part in learning a new skill (or in particular learning how to paint for the first time). Of course, in a painting process when one starts to understand how things work - the production, the centrality of the image, one becomes involved and rather loses touch with the structure of our outer reality to be seduced by Anderson’s lens.

What intrigues me about Wes Anderson’s film is his attention to detail in which everything comes to unity lying next to one another. Take colours for example, the idiosyncratic style of mood evocation where hue, saturation, and brightness play a big role in his films. With hue, the colour of shading, in this case, he would use primary colours such as red, blue, and yellow. For saturation - the degree for something to be absorbed to a possibility at the maximum - the saturation of a red hue can be seen in relation to how red the saturation is. Within the framework of Wes Anderson films, the saturation tends to be very high. Thus, the little details of his set productions tend to jump out, be it a red beanie or a bicycle. In terms of brightness, Wes Anderson tends to keep things very bright. However, the contrast between light and dark stands out in the depiction of loneliness through Anderson’s lens.

The reason “The Royal Tenenbaums” is widely considered Wes Anderson’s best film is due to the fact that yellow is idyllic. In Addition to Margot’s yellow, Chas’ red jumpsuit is to be displayed throughout the film. In another Wes Anderson colour palette, red can be seen as something specific. There is something about the preoccupation of characters. His work came in celebration with travellers and film fans in different locations. Anderson’s films are the remnant of nostalgia for the present. The centrality of Wes Anderson frames along with the colourful lens are presented in repressed characters who are capable of connecting with the people.

Plus, taking the idea of centrality interplaying with the overly saturated colours in which in Anderson’s world nothing is too excessive and out of place. Everything seems to be curated and strangely upbeat in their own depressing tone. The outer-actualization of his frames, however, seems to fragment colours into meanings of nostalgia and the need to go back to the distant past. It almost comes at the cost of looking for a piece to be whole. There is something so illusive and captivated about Anderson’s characters that they tend to operate in their own realm independent from the outside world. It’s a feeling of inside out to forever be an outsider who accidentally gets in observing through an intense outer meditative colour lens. There are a certain sense of roles in his movie for that it could be deferred to be masculine oriented or overtly feminine. Then you have the wealthy operating through their own lenses as well as their own concern. Then you have the poor who also operate in their own mode of adaptation with their other concerns. Each role and the encapsulation of the characters tend to cross the realm of function in which the centrality of the cinematic frame comes to bring them together.

In the film “The Grand Budapest Hotel” can be seen through the loneliness lens of an overtly saturality of an intense urge to jump out of an outrageous boredom. M. Gustave (Ralph Fiennes) can be used as a case study “His world had vanished before he had entered it”. The romanticization of the past for the melancholy to live on without the immediate urge to live in the present. He can get extremely morbid in his view of the world “ a glimmer of civilization in the barbaric slaughterhouse we know as humanity.” I remember thinking of M. Gustave on late night home waiting for the subway after a long day of going through the motions. A sense of reaching the crux of isolation in which my mental state becomes a sheer saturation of the colour green. The wall at the subway station with its name became maximised. Nathan Gelgud has written in Indy Week for Anderson’s films to possess a sense of “sadness” that comes from what Anderson and the audience alongside the the characters to be real below the present surface - a sense of long for a past that is personified by colours.