18th October 2021

Art Direction Review: Wes Anderson

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Wes Anderson’s film style revels in an undeniable hipster vibe. 

His films have a unique art direction style with intensive detail, effective lighting and colour schemes. His compositions resemble tableaus and, to add a cherry on top, his illustrations are filled with meaningful props. 

Wes Anderson’s filmmaking style is remarkable for it’s sense of control and directness, and is often described as charming and quaint.

Wes Anderson filmography

What is the Wes Anderson style? 

Well…It is a mixture of nuanced production design, visual gags and relentless detail, executed in such a deliberate manner that the viewer always ‘catches’ these little easter eggs. 

His audiences; know what he wants them to know, see what he wants them to see and feel what he wants them to feel.

The Wes Anderson aesthetic is completely deliberate. It seems simple, but it’s actually complex. 

The viewer gets to enjoy a sophisticated film that spoon-feeds them information. Where other directors will keep you in suspense by holding information back, and strategically distributing details when advantageous, he is more interested in being clear. 

Trademark Anderson art direction will include blocking and staging and feature symmetry throughout. His profile shots will have actors and props promptly entering and exiting the frame in the background. 

The framing and crafted composition employed adds a sense of order and even respect for the one-point perspective style. By centering his objects, Anderson brings emphasis to what is in the frame, which pleases the audience’s eyes. 

His awareness of framing during a scene turns a passive viewer into an active viewer through the sharp focus of everything included within a scene. (Watch CENTRED for inspiration).

Wes Anderson Art Direction

Anderson’s heightened focus on staging allows his story to be impactful visually and emotionally. His symmetry is artistically beautiful and breathtaking.

It’s fast and light, but strong and intentional. You would indeed be forgiven for describing it as ‘charming and quaint’. 

Each of his films are visually spectacular, and managed with great skill. He is a master at making each scene count, and across films lasting nearly 2 hours, this is no mean feat.

His films hold a lot of information, feeling and observation within a relatively simple narrative..

I have a way of filming things and staging them and designing sets. There were times when I thought I should change my approach, but in fact, this is what I like to do. It's sort of like my handwriting as a movie director. And somewhere along the way, I think I've made the decision: I'm going to write in my own handwriting.

Wes Anderson

Anderson also does cutaways that will, at times, break a scene in half. This is almost like a flashback, or a cutaway joke like a TV gag. But they aren’t unrelated…This is by design.

It suggests a profound trust in his viewer having some level of visual sophistication. He trusts his audience to make those connections.

How does Wes Anderson use colour?

Anderson uses a lot of colour and combinations in his films, each scene has a distinct, premeditated assembly of colours. The Wes Anderson colour palette is every bit as intentional as his composition style.

He understands that colour elicits emotion from his audience, and these same colours can be connected to different emotions based on how you mix them with the surrounding imagery. Very clever indeed.

Wes Anderson Art Direction

What is the Wes Anderson font?

Wes Anderson commonly uses the Futura and Helvetica fonts for his title cards. These fonts match his style, in that they are simple, stark, and direct.

One of the really unique things about his style comes from the fact that we even notice his fonts. Text tickles a different part of the brain. 

Anderson knows that forcing a viewer to read even small bits of information will forge a more significant bond with that information. Something worth remembering when creating visual content. 

You remember what you read. It’s another way of conveying details about a story and it’s world. A well-designed and well-written title card can be a lot more effective than a clunky expository scene or a “Fred the Explainer” monologue.

Fantastic Mr Fox

For your viewing pleasure we have included his entire filmography below, so enjoy (and thank us later).

  • The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Fantastic Mr. Fox
  • The Royal Tenenbaums
  • The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
  • Rushmore
  • Moonrise Kingdom
  • The Darjeeling Limited
  • Isle of Dogs
  • Bottle Rocket

His latest film ‘The French Dispatch’ (trailer) is set to be released in the UK Oct 22, 2021- just look at the posters promoting the film. 

  • Academy Awards – Nominations: 7
  • Golden Globes – Nominations: 2
  • BAFTA – Nominations: 7 – Wins: 1 (Best Original Screenplay – The Grand Budapest Hotel)