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Wes Anderson’s Powerful Short Film

January 15, 2014 by   

One of the things that I would like to focus on the most during this term is the use of advanced cinematography to tell really visually stunning and powerful stories. To me, this is where the filmmaker develops the look/feel of the film in post-production as much ( if not more) than during the actual framing and shooting of each shot in a sequence. Wikipedia describes Cinematography as “the art or science of motion picture photography . It is the technique of movie photography, including both the shooting and developing of the film.” And, although this is a matter of personal opinion, who does this better than Wes Anderson. Published on November 14th, 2013,  the short film entitled Castello Cavalcanti  is just one look into the magic that Wes Anderson brings to the screen.

Right off the bat, Anderson sets the mood of the piece with his typical warm tones as we can see heavily in the establishing shot of the dark cobblestone street. The second shot is a seamless tracking shot, beginning with the women talking and dollying to the right to show a small boy chewing gum and then moving up to see the two men talking. This also acts to establish other characters, because the audience can see the men playing cards in the background, with the table perfectly framed by the two men. Its all about the details! But what I loved the most was when you start to hear the cars honking, the entire dolly shot plays in reverse, moving laterally back through all of the characters we were just introduced to as all of the characters stop what they are doing to focus on the arriving vehicles. The other shot that I thought was very powerful was the shot of Jason Schwartzman’s racecar that has crashed into the statue, which is looming over the enflamed vehicle. That one frame can say a thousand words.

As a whole, I really admire Anderson’s sense of letting a scene play out before he cuts to the next shot, often moving the camera back and forth between the unfolding scenes. Although this is a personalistic style he has created, I admire his use of movement and (there must be a TON of) blocking to maintain an active scene.







  1. says:

    Wes Anderson is my favorite filmmaker of all time! His style is so unique and fun. I too want to focus a lot on camera movement this term. Lingering on a shot for just the right amount of time, tracking, dolly shots… I also admire the color palette Anderson always uses. I wonder how much this is set up before he begins ever rolling. It seems so well thought out, all of the complimentary golden colors with the blues. He also has really great sound design, as you pointed out with the car horns. Another cool sound trick he does here is when it pans to the inside of the restaurant and all of a sudden it seems like the music is coming from within the restaurant rather than as just a soundtrack. And then the guy hears the car horns and tells the lady to turn down the music. This is called non-diagetic when the sound is not part of the scene (it just sounds like a soundtrack) and it is not implied to be part of the current action. Diagetic is when the sound is coming from a source on the screen. I am always a sucker for movies that use this technique in scenes. The lighting Anderson uses is always perfect as well. I love it!

  2. says:

    Something I like about his style, too, is the use of symmetry. The dialogue is deliberate and feels scripted instead of spontaneous, there are implausible plot twists like the town being where his ancestors are from, but it all feels like a neatly-designed whole and I think the visual choices help support this. Putting two men on either side of the protagonist, centering him in the very center of the frame, that sort of thing, help sell us on the theatrical nature of the story.

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