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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

This is the third time in your films that a dog has died, is that a thing?
[Laughs] I know we killed one in 'Royal Tenenbaums.'

Yeah, and in 'Life Aquatic'?
I know he whacks him, Jeff Goldblum swats at him and the dog certainly has lost a leg by that time, so it's not like the dog had an easy time of it. but he survives with his life. He also leaves him alive but he gets sort of taken by those the pirates. Will there be a fourth? I've written...I have a new script and there's a dog...there's at least one dog in the story but there's no physical harm threatened to it.

I'm really curious about the look of "Moonrise Kingdom," because it's sort of earthy but it's also very refined. What equipment were you using?
Well, the equipment we were using, we used these French 16mm handheld cameras called Aatons. I wanted to be able to go off in the woods with these kids and have a very very small group, and be able to work very freely and quickly and unencumbered, and have them feel like they were really on an adventure together. So we found these cameras that are called A-minimas that Aaton makes. You don't even put them on your shoulder, you hold them like this in one hand and you look through the lens through the top of the camera. And we got five of them because they're very difficult to load, it takes time to load, so we had to load them all, and go out and swap them out like a fashion photographer. When someone hands them another camera they start shooting again. So that was kind of a crucial thing for us. There's certain sequences, like in the center of the movie, where the two kids are dancing on the beach together. That's only three people on the crew, and a remote spot and it's using these little cameras. If you hand hold a camera, a normal 35 millimeter movie camera you're just practically overwhelming a child. But with these you could hold them down at their level, so they were actually ideal for us.

Wes Anderson, Moonrise Kingdom
The fiction island in the movie, the Island of New Penzance. A reference to Gilbert and Sullivan's opera "The Pirates of Penzance"?
A little bit, yeah. I was in "Pirates Of Penzance" about the same age as the characters in the film, and my brother and I were also in Benjamin Britten's "Noah's Flood" and I subsequently became aware of the actual place in England that is Penzance and it's a sort of summer, seaside destination. So I feel like making our own is making our own New York in 'Tenenbaums' or something. But there certainly is a connection to that.

I was just thinking of signifiers and conflating different icons which you do in this movie to some degree. In 'Royal Tenenbaums' there's one where I think there was a Lou Reed and Beatles reference very close to each other but I'm struggling to think of the specific cues.
I know in 'Tenenbaums,' we have one where she puts on a record, we finish the song and then we go the next record song on the record because the scene went on too long. When we were in the editing room we were like I guess we'll have to move onto the next song. We're like that's going to cost us about $120,000 dollars because it's a Rolling Stones song, so to let the record keep playing means you have to buy the other song. But that's probably not related to what you’re asking about.

I mean the layering of references like the Britten, with the Gilbert and Sullivan, they're not even from the same period, butt hey all come together in that one specific pot-pourri moment.  
Well yeah, the whole crux of doing a movie is mixing things together like that.

"Moonrise Kingdom" opens up in limited release this weekend, on Friday May 25th.- Interview by Simon Abrams.

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


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