In the past several weeks, two bits of Wes Anderson news have surfaced. One is the trailer for the filmmaker's forthcoming cinematic venture, The Grand Budapest Hotel. The second is the release of a new book, The Wes Anderson Collection, which offers a peak into the director's elaborate process for creating his movies' aesthetics.
The Wes Anderson Collection was conceived by Matt Zoller Seitz, critic and longtime acquaintance of the filmmaker. Featuring original illustrations by Max Dalton, the volume charts Anderson’s rise from cinephile to full-fledged auteur over the course of seven films, beginning with Bottle Rocket, and it includes ephemera like still photographs, storyboards, and anecdotes.
The book kicks off with an introduction by novelist Michael Chabon and then each of its seven chapters correspond to one of Anderson’s theatrical releases, up through last year’s Moonrise Kingdom. Seitz’s own interviews with Anderson round out the wealth of visual material.
To leaf through The Wes Anderson Collection is to experience the meticulously constructed celluloid worlds of The Royal Tenenbaums or Fantastic Mr. Fox in graphic form. Seitz’s heartfelt homage to Anderson’s films is evident on the page, both in his text and the book’s layout, which he helped to design. The layout makes inventive use of Anderson’s patented encyclopedia-like process of displaying bricolage sourced from the films. For instance, the laundry list of Max Fischer’s extracurricular activities--which plays at the start of Rushmore--is arrayed in a Jeopardy-square composition spanning a full spread. Elsewhere, the Belafonte, Steve Zissou’s ship from The Life Aquatic, is compartmentalized into a series of stills that reproduce the film’s famous camera pan in piecemeal fashion.
Original cinematic material is supplemented by Dalton’s whimsical drawings, which faithfully depict titular characters and iconic scenes from the Anderson canon. The illustrations are very much in the spirit of the doodles and figural wallpaper littered throughout the films, which heavily influenced Dalton’s own work. “The first Wes Anderson movie I saw was The Royal Tenenbaums--that was in 2001--and it completely blew my mind,” says the illustrator, who had previously produced a series of posters dedicated to 111 Archer Avenue and the Belafonte. “I felt strongly connected to that movie.”