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Name: Linda Barnett
Module Code and Title: FI313 Film Form
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Date Submitted: 18/11/2014
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What stylistic motifs shape the narration of The Royal Tenenbaums?
Wes Anderson’s unique visual style of filmmaking in terms of his precision and attention to detail is what arguably makes him an important auteur of modern cinema. A key aspect that Anderson especially pays attention to is the symmetry and central positioning in the frame. Film theorist David Bordwell states that it gives the audience “a sense that we are looking from a distance into an enclosed world” as if we’re looking into ‘a world of childhood’1. One of Anderson’s greatest influences is from the French New Wave era, where directors like Lois Malle and François Traffaut have impacted many of the visual techniques that he uses in his films, to plan each shot as if it were a painting. The images, and motifs have a far greater role to play in exploring and developing the motives and personalities of his characters. Visual motifs are essential in giving the audience an understanding of their true character. This essay will examine his 2001 film The Royal Tenenbaums and analyse the unique motifs that are chosen throughout the film, which shape the narration in ways that help the audience connect with the troubling Tenenbaum family.
Many shots throughout the film are not just used for a stylistic effect, but in fact reveal essential themes of the film. Anderson also uses his unique framing to help shape and mould the narrative, which creates a surrealistic experience for the audience. For example, When Margot and Ritchie meet at the pier after years of being apart; they are both placed in the centre of the shot. It then starts to track a continuous mid-shot of Margot walking, whilst zooming in on Richie, as if to emphasise the ultimate attraction and connection these two characters have for each other, and also foreshadowing what is to come in the narrative. The audience is drawn to the characters facial expressions, how they physically react to the situation whilst Anderson’s directing tries to convey the emotional side. At this point in the narrative, we are aware of Richie’s love for Margot, but unsure if it is reciprocated. The way Margot is shown, hints to the audience that she may feel the same. The emphasis on Margot and Richie’s faces is not accidental; it shows the surrealistic view that is portrayed in all of Anderson’s films, as they remain so emotionless and so unrealistic in such an important encounter. In this scene, their visual appearance speaks louder then they do. There is no excitement or hurry, yet contradicting this there is a certain realistic tone that makes this scene so memorable. It highlights the expectance of human behaviour, Hollywood’s idealistic view of how we should behave and react, compared to reality.
The wide-angle lense that Anderson shoots with captures 3D like quality, which is used as an advantage in the pier scene as well as many others. While using Margot and Richie as the centre focus as well as the diverse mise-en-scène as a form of background, it helps bring the audiences…