On elephant journal, I explore what happened to the aspect of Wes Anderson’s older films in which a white male undergoes a transformation to a new paradigm of living:
About a decade ago, acclaimed director Wes Anderson started taking some flak for what critics perceived as repetition of childish content, or content he had imagined in his youth. I didn’t agree with the Hollywood echo chamber at the time, but I also never really got Anderson’s films until “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou” (2004). Despite being a twentysomething, I related far too much to Bill Murray’s rendition of a man in mid-life crisis.
As I reacquainted myself with Anderson’s back catalogue (and discovered his feature debut, “Bottle Rocket”, from 1996), I started to notice symbols, character types and traits that reappear in a seemingly intentional way: the overachieving kid, the has-been adult, the disgruntled wife, ex-wife, or widow and even the pregnant woman. Then there are the inanimate ones, like jumpsuits on a team of men.
Certain of these have continued in Anderson’s later films—some as central as children living with an adult level of emotional complexity, and some as peripheral as a triangular tent.
But no character type stood out more to me than the contemporary white/Western man in a state of failure, disgrace or disillusionment.
Read more at elephant.
Learn more about me and sign up for my newsletter at my website.
(Image by Arvind Grover on Flickr, used by CC permission.)