Wes Anderson is arguably the most distinctive filmmaker on the planet right now, he is the mastermind behind films such as Fantastic Mr. Fox, Moonrise Kingdom and The Grand Budapest Hotel which is a jam-packed CV like no other. His work truly operates in its own lane, his mind always racing at a million miles an hour to meticulously enact his iconic style.
With a vision that is so unique, it makes the mind wander as to what films he takes inspiration from. What are the pictures that have beguiled and entranced Anderson and, in turn, influenced his own filmmaking.
Anderson’s life in the film industry began with the Owen Wilson-collaborated short film developed Bottle Rocket, with the two budding filmmakers famously being roommates at the University of Texas. This would develop a theme in Anderson’s career in which he would continue to keep his friends and colleagues close in the years that followed, building a unique style aesthetic in the process.
Projects such as Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou quickly followed and so did the critical and commercial success. Soon enough, the director had carved out his own perfectly curated niche. Strong relationships with the likes of Owen Wilson, Bill Murray, Luke Wilson and more had been established and the big-name accolades began to roll in. His command of such talent spoke even more highly than his vision.
“I have a way of filming things and staging them and designing sets,” Anderson once said of his style. “There were times when I thought I should change my approach, but in fact, this is what I like to do. It’s sort of like my handwriting as a movie director. And somewhere along the way, I think I’ve made the decision: I’m going to write in my own handwriting.”
He added: “Usually when I’m making a movie, what I have in mind first, for the visuals, is how we can stage the scenes to bring them more to life in the most interesting way, and then how we can make a world for the story that the audience hasn’t quite been in before.”
Fortunately, Wes Anderson discussed his favourite films with Rotten Tomatoes in 2012 and it provides a fascinating insight into his colourful world from which he seeks inspiration. Let’s dive in!
Wes Anderson’s favourite films:
Rosemary’s Baby (Roman Polanski – 1968)
Rosemary’s Baby is a psychological horror film written and directed by Roman Polanski, one which he based on the 1967 novel of the same name by Ira Levin. The film features a star-studded cast of Mia Farrow, John Cassavetes, Ruth Gordon, Sidney Blackmer, Maurice Evans, Ralph Bellamy, Angela Dorian, Clay Tanner, and, in his feature film debut, Charles Grodin. It chronicles the story of a pregnant woman who suspects that an evil cult wants to take her baby for use in their rituals.
“One movie that I often find myself going back to is Rosemary’s Baby,” Wes Anderson said about the film. “This has always been a big influence on me or a source of ideas, and it’s always been one of my favourites. Mia Farrow gives a great, big performance in it, and I’ve read the script and it’s a terrific script. So that’s one I’d say.”
A Clockwork Orange (Stanley Kubrick – 1971)
A Clockwork Orange is Stanley Kubrick’s 1971 dystopian crime film based on Anthony Burgess’s 1962 novel of the same name. Kubrick employs disturbing, violent images to comment on psychiatry, juvenile delinquency, youth gangs, and other social, political, and economic subjects in a dystopian near-future Britain which has made it widely regarded as one of the greatest films of all time.
“I think A Clockwork Orange is one that springs to mind,” Anderson noted before adding. “A fully-formed Stanley Kubrick. It’s a movie that’s very particularly designed and, you know, conjures up this world that you’ve never seen quite this way in a movie before, but at the same time, there’s a great sort of spontaneity to it, and tremendous energy. And both of those are very well adapted, good books.”
Trouble In Paradise (Ernst Lubitsch – 1932)
Trouble in Paradise is a romantic comedy film directed by Ernst Lubitsch, which starred Miriam Hopkins, Kay Francis, and Herbert Marshall. It’s one of the more curious inclusions on Anderson’s list.
The 1932 film was based on the 1931 play The Honest Finder (A Becsületes Megtaláló) by Hungarian playwright László Aladár, the lead characters are a gentleman thief and a lady pickpocket who join forces to con a beautiful woman who is the owner of a perfume company.
“Another one I could say is Trouble in Paradise,” Anderson disclosed. “Yeah, it is. A great Lubitsch movie. Herbert Marshall and Miriam Hopkins. And Samson Raphaelson is the screenwriter; he did several Lubitsch movies. I don’t know if anybody can make a movie like that anymore — that perfect tone, like a ‘soufflé’-type of movie. A confection, I guess.”
Toni (Jean Renoir – 1935)
Toni is a French drama film directed by Jean Renoir in 1935 and stars Charles Blavette, Celia Montalván and Édouard Delmont. Renoir’s masterpiece follows the story of the romantic interactions between a group of immigrants both from abroad and other parts of France who have all found themselves working at the same quarry and farm in Provence.
“There’s one called Toni, that’s Jean Renoir before Grand Illusion, before Rules of the Game, and it’s set in the south of France and they’re Italian immigrants who’re working, who’re labourers working in the South of France. It’s very beautiful, kind of lyrical and very sad; a great Renoir movie. I don’t know if it’s seen that much anymore. It’s great,” the Rushmore director said.
Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? (Mike Nichols – 1966)
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? is a five-time Academy Award-winning black comedy-drama film directed by Mike Nichols in his directorial debut. The screenplay written by Ernest Lehman is an adaptation of Edward Albee’s 1962 play of the same name. It stars Elizabeth Taylor as Martha, Richard Burton as George, George Segal as Nick, and Sandy Dennis as Honey.
“Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, that’s another one I rewatched recently. When I first saw that movie it made me feel bad. I didn’t fall in love with it. I loved The Graduate when I first saw it, but [Virginia Woolf], I wasn’t excited by it, because it seemed like there was negativity about it. But when I watched it more recently I thought it was the most beautiful, inspired, exciting movie. Mike Nichols is one of the most inventive directors that we’ve had, and that’s one of the great, you know, it’s a great movie and a stunning first film,” the iconic director noted.
Wes Anderson’s 5 favourite films:
- Rosemary’s Baby – Roman Polanski
- A Clockwork Orange – Stanley Kubrick
- Trouble in Paradise – Ernst Lubitsch
- Toni – Jean Renoir
- Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? – Mike Nichols