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The Playlist Interview From Cannes: Wes Anderson Discusses The Nostalgia, Music, & Making Of 'Moonrise Kingdom'

Photo of Oliver Lyttelton By Oliver Lyttelton | The Playlist May 23, 2012 at 12:31PM

Few filmmakers have a more distinctive take on the world than Wes Anderson. Many of his contemporaries -- David O Russell, Darren Aronofsky, Spike Jonze et al -- are extraordinary filmmakers, but it's only with Anderson that you can look at a single frame -- any frame -- and instantly know that it's his. And the same is true of his latest, "Moonrise Kingdom," which marks his return to live-action filmmaking for the first time in five years.
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Wes Anderson, Moonrise Kingdom
Few filmmakers have a more distinctive take on the world than Wes Anderson. Many of his contemporaries -- David O. Russell, Darren Aronofsky, Spike Jonze, et al. -- are extraordinary filmmakers, but it's only with Anderson that you can look at a single frame -- any frame -- and instantly know that it's his. And the same is true of his latest, "Moonrise Kingdom," which marks his return to live-action filmmaking for the first time in five years.

The film was very well received when it opened the Cannes Film Festival last week (including our A-grade review), and we caught up with Anderson at the fest to talk about the new film, which stars Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Edward Norton, Tilda Swinton, Harvey Keitel, Jason Schwartzman, and newcomers Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward. Mild spoilers may be ahead, just to warn you, but as the film goes on release this Friday, May 25th, you don't have long to wait.

Let's start off the with the music which seems integral here. What does Benjamin Britten's music evoke for you? How did you find that program conducted by Bernstein?
I'm not sure when I did find that "Young Person's Guide To The Orchestra." I feel like my older brother had it when we were kids, I know we had "Peter and the Wolf" and I feel like we had a "Young Person's Guide To The Orchestra" as well. We were in a production of "Noah's Flood," when I was ten and he was eleven. That Leonard Bernstein version of that with the kid talking really evokes that period for me, and I like that Britten and also Leonard Bernstein were so interested in sharing classical music with children and making a point of it.

Are you an opera buff at all?
Not really, I'm certainly not knowledgeable but I like to go. It's always a kind of amazing experience to go to the Metropolitan Opera in New York, but in Paris [where Anderson now lives], it's the Palais Garnier. It's an amazing place to go see or listen to something.

Wes Anderson, Moonrise Kingdom
This use of music in "Moonrise Kingdom" is refreshing. Was its use of music a means of showing that even the film's most seemingly unruly characters provide harmony to the group in some way? Do you think that's always true of characters that self-identify as outsiders?
Well that could be. I like that it's like the characters are instruments in an orchestra.

Do you consider your role as a director to be more similar to a conductor or a composer?
I think you probably shift into conducting when you finish the script. You're doing a little composing on your way too. It depends on which part of the metaphor we're doing, because there's a degree to which the script can be the score, and then the production of the movie is the performance, but there's probably another way in which the score is being made all the way through the editing, and the performance is really just you flipping a switch. So there's composing in all of these different stages of a movie but I think the feeling of it is more like conducting when you're shooting it.

This article is related to: Wes Anderson, Moonrise Kingdom, Interview, Features, Cannes Film Festival


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