Auteur theory and Wes’ visual style

I kicked off this lesson with a learning intention: To explore Auteur theory and how it relates to Moonrise Kingdom. Then giving the students a definition and explanation of what exactly Auteur Theory is. It is a theory that sounds complex (maybe it’s the French name), however it is relatively simple and the students picked it up fairly quickly. To give an example of an Auteur I used Tim Burton. Tim Burton has such a distinct style it was obvious to the students, as well as them being already familiar with his films. We talked about what made his films so distinctive – stripes, Johnny Depp, fantasy, etc.

Then I showed them these three stills, all from different Wes Anderson films:

They picked up immediately the similarities in the stills: the symmetry, the colours, the large cast.

I then showed them this short clip (the last shot was edited out):

The students responded really well to this clip and were amazed that Wes used the same type of short across all of his work.

Mise en Scene is something of great significance in Wes Anderson films, and we spent the rest of the lesson looking at stills from his films and analysing the use of props, the effectiveness of the colours, and looking at what the mise en scene told the audience. It was a great task and allowed the students to think deeper about what is placed within the frame.

And now to finish…

You know you’re watching a Wes Anderson film when…

-Bill Murray is in it

-There is a slow motion shot
-There is a lot of detail in the mise en scene
-It has an awesome soundtrack
-There is a Dysfunctional family
-The dialogue is sassy
-The font used is yellow (and most often Futura)
-The shots are symmetrical
– The characters are wearing uniforms
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