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How Stanley Kubrick inspired the films of Wes Anderson

When Stanley Kubrick was making movies, he was in his own league. None of the works made by his contemporaries resembled his unique style of filmmaking and very few came close to capturing the essence of the cinematic medium as he did. The same can be said of Wes Anderson, whose distinct artistic sensibilities are unlike any other in the current landscape of cinema.

This unique nature isn’t just a coincidence, but a direct result of Anderson’s respect for Kubrick. “Kubrick is one of my favourites,” Anderson claimed. “Usually, by the time I’m making the movie, I don’t really know where I’m stealing everything from. By the time it’s a movie, I think it’s my thing, and I forget where I took it all — but I think I’m always pretty influenced by Kubrick”.

This can be observed in the visual narratives of Anderson’s films which are highly symmetrical and presented as completely artificial images manufactured for aesthetic purposes. Although Anderson is more direct in attacking the artifice of the medium, his tendency to go down that road is definitely inspired by Kubrick’s explorations of the visual power of cinema and the voyeuristic expectations of the audience.

In an interview with Charlie Rose, Anderson’s frequent collaborator Bill Murray confirmed that Anderson was obsessed with Kubrick. The actor revealed that Anderson had the impressive ability to repurpose iconic shots from old films and he realised this while the filmmaker was describing one particular shot in Rushmore which made Murray think that he had seen it in Barry Lyndon.

According to Murray, Anderson possesses “an enormous film culture” and knows exactly what he wants from cinema. The actor explained this statement by commenting that he could understand Anderson better by watching him work on set: “The way you shoot it, too, shows how you want to impact things on an audience”.

Murray added that “it always gets perverted when people say, ‘Oh, the good ones copy, the great ones steal.'” However, Murray insisted that Anderson was different because he knew how “to get these things together in one place” because he was well-versed in the language of cinema and the vocabulary of great films.

Watch the video essay which compares Kubrick’s work to Wes Anderson’s cinema below.