Saturday, September 08, 2012

A few words about "Moonrise Kingdom", a film directed by Wes Anderson

Perhaps the best way to describe Wes Anderson's new film, "Moonrise Kingdom", is by saying that it is just like any other Wes Anderson picture you have seen, only more so. Accordingly, you will either love it or hate it depending on your predisposition towards the Wes Anderson way of doing things. (I have unequivocally loved and admired everything he is ever done, including his advertising work, but I concede that it is a fine line he is treading, and I predict that, if his style ever manages to attract imitators, their films are likely to be uniformly awful.)

So anyway, all I really wanted to say here is that when Adrienne and I were leaving the cinema, she mentioned to me that the film put her in mind of "Time of Wonder", a children's book by Robert McCloskey (author of one of the all-time classic children's picture books, "Make Way For Ducklings"). As is her way, having sowed the Wes Anderson seed, she then silently deposited the book on my side of the bed. Of course, I then just had to read it immediately, even though it has been in the house for years. (She is very good at this sort of thing. The phrase "Bart would wear that shirt" also has a proven track record.)

It turned out, unsurprisingly, to be a wonderful book, even if it does shine an uncomfortable light on how much better, at least in some respects, the lives if children were fifty years ago. And of course Adrienne is right: the similarities between the book and the film are many. The setting, around the islands of New England, is perhaps the most obvious one. But there is also the theme of children having adventures out of the sight of adults, sailing boats, watching the weather. There is the great storm that is the centrepiece of both the film and the book. Even the houses look curiously similar. The film being by Wes Anderson, there are, of course, inner demons of one sort or another in all of the characters; a dog gets harmed; and everyone is impeccably dressed and/or has a very precise taste in, say, music. None of those things is reflected in Robert McCloskey's book (which was written eight years before the year that Anderson's film is set in). There are no boy scouts in the book, either (unless they are hiding in the shadows).

It would be interesting to know, wouldn't it, and I suppose it would not be surprising in the slightest, if Anderson had read this book as a child and if, consciously or otherwise, it sparked an idea that evolved into "Moonrise Kingdom". Or maybe it is total coincidence. I was expecting to find that Anderson himself grew up in New England, but this appears not to be the case (Texas, it would seem, which is about as far from New England as you can get while still being a part of the United States), which makes the similarity of the worlds depicted in the film and the book even more intriguing.

Anyway. Read the book. See the film. That's all.