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Wes Anderson has an obsessive, systematic repetition of stylistic choices. He’s perfect for this TikTok meme


Iconoclastic film director Wes Anderson says about his movies:

I always feel like any character from one of my movies can walk into another movie and be at home there.

With the premiere of Asteroid City at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival next week, fans have done just that: immerse themselves in fake Anderson movies.

TikTokers “Wes-Andersonify” Their Daily Lives Creatively: during lunch, at the hotel pool or at the bookstore. The TikToks are all set to a score by Alexandre Desplat from The French Dispatch (2021).

It’s fun to see how Anderson’s filmmaking style extends across cultural and geographic boundaries. This synchronises with the filmmaker’s affinity for global cinema. He is inspired by the films of Yasujirō Ozu, Satyajit Ray, Jean Renoir, Jean-Luc Godard, Francois Truffaut and Jacques Rivette – just to name a few.

For Tiktok’s Anderson fans, here’s a “How” by @andyyongfilms showing a recipe for the movie style: a title card (Futura font, with typewriter effect), symmetrical compositions, brightly colored or pastel outfits, retro props, an overhead shot plus a “whippancamera movement. A few of the TikToks are highly polished, clearly from creators with a film education, like The UK shipping.

Read more: Wes Anderson is one of cinema’s great authors: discuss

A new take on a film style

The Anderson-inspired TikToks are playful musings on the issue of “movie style” today. Stanley Kubrick once said that a film director has aflavor machine”, which Anderson enjoys too much.

Symmetry within the frame is perhaps the most obvious element of the Anderson film style and one that is easy to replicate in the TikToks. With an obsessive dedication to stage scenes in symmetry, Anderson breaks through therule of thirds” for visual composition. Instead, he pins his actors in the middle, as seen here video essay by Kogonada.

Working with his regular cinematographer Robert Yeoman, Anderson uses flat compositions to create graphic cinema that shares an affinity with illustration and painting.

Its “flat” approach to staging means the camera remains perpendicular to the subject, which is maintained by the rapid camera movement inside a shot. Anderson stages his actors across the frame – like clothes on a clothesline – and in depth. You can see this in the image of Asteroid City above.

This staging style is a departure from the common visual style of film and television today, where the camera is placed at an angle to the actors, enhancing the layers of foreground, center, and background – closer to the way we see the see and experience the world.

Anderson’s approach, on the other hand, evokes the artificiality of cinema. He recalls historical film styles from early cinema theatricality to the pop art cinema of the late 1960s, for example in the films of the late Jean-Luc Godard.

Color is another aspect of Wes Anderson’s visual style, which is reflected in the TikToks. Like a handful of directors today, he still shoots on film (16mm and 35mm), but now uses digital tools to sort the color of the images. The European pastels of The Grand Budapest Hotel resurface in American hues for Asteroid City.

Read more: Jean-Luc Godard passed away. He redefined what cinema is and leaves a staggering legacy

Where to now?

As a system in its own right, Anderson’s filmmaking style is ripe for TikTok for its boldness, clarity, and repetition of techniques.

Movie style works at the recording level. We can recall signature shots such as Hitchcock’s “vertigo effect” (where the camera lens zooms in on a subject as the camera moves away), Scorsese’s tracking shots, Nolan’s close-ups of hands, or Tarantino’s point-of-view shots from a car boot .

But these are isolated shots rather than Anderson’s obsessive, systematic repetition of stylistic choices within each film and throughout his oeuvre. On TikTok, some photos are easier to take than others, as @astonmartinf1 describes in his analysis of the Wes Anderson Trend, pointing out the omission of camera movement in many of the videos, which is a defining aspect of his actual filmmaking style.

In filmmaking, moving the camera is often expensive, separating the amateur from the professional. Anderson’s tracking shots are only feasible within an industrial film process. While the TikToks may be very creative, they were made with few resources, a world away from Anderson’s film budgets, who enjoy Medici-like support. of American billionaire Steven Rales.

That said, there are other aspects of the Wes Anderson style that the TikToks can hijack on a budget, such as playfulness with the aspect ratio and slow-motion photography. Aspect ratio is the ratio between the width and height of an image. TikTok is 9:16, an inverse ratio to our widescreen TVs.

As part of his film style, Anderson uses the classic Hollywood ratio of 4:3 The French shipping. Both ratios are designed for people (all those selfies) over landscapes, so creative opportunities here for TikTokers.

Anderson is also a fan of slow motion to accentuate important dramatic moments in his films. Today’s smartphones shoot well in “slo-mo,” and TikTok and other simple editing apps allow the user to apply speed effects to their footage.

And as movie-style generative AI representations wash across social media, a new set of questions arises. Here is Harry Potter as directed by Wes Anderson created by @panoramachannel with AI software Midjourney. But that’s another conversation.

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