Review by C.J. Bunce
In The Oliver Stone Experience, writer Matt Zoller Seitz provided fans of Oliver Stone with an incredibly immersive deep-dive into the thought process of the acclaimed and sometimes controversial director. Spending five years with Stone debating and analyzing the auteur’s films and influences was the stuff for the ultimate fan of his films, bordering on containing too much information–mostly insightful, but sometimes trivial and the stuff of information overload. But can you really have too much information when you’re talking about your favorite creator? Probably not, and it’s with the same gusto that Seitz digs into Wes Anderson–the man, the mind, the films. Seitz admittedly is a fan of Anderson and it shows as he chronicles the writer/director’s life and career in his massive work of essays and photographs, The Wes Anderson Collection, a coffee table hardcover and collectible for every Anderson fan.
In a series of interviews about his films Bottle Rocket, Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, The Darjeeling Limited, Fantastic Mr. Fox, and Moonrise Kingdom, with two supplemental books available covering The Grand Budapest Hotel and Isle of Dogs (more on those below), Anderson becomes more accessible, and his films more understandable–even for those who aren’t fans of his work. With original illustrations and production images, Seitz also makes a statement with the design of the book, incorporating the film frames, the quirky nostalgia, and the memory box-like set-ups seen in Anderson films, to highlight and explore the journey the filmmaker has taken with each new film. The distinct tracking shots and color palettes that define Anderson’s films are featured in shots from the films and in behind the camera images of props, sets, and actors that come together to form these distinct stories.
Readers will find some overload of data here, but it’s also fun to watch a fan who has done his research interviewing a filmmaker. Equally fun are Anderson’s reactions to complex questions the writer-director never himself pondered about his own work. Yes, expect plenty of “Hmmm” responses, but much more content of the thought-provoking variety. Every fan should have a book like this to go to for his/her favorite creator–the closest I’ve seen like this is surprisingly James Cameron’s interviews of directors in his Story of Science Fiction (reviewed here), and the James Bond books Bond on Bond (reviewed here), and The Many Lives of Bond (reviewed here), and the above-mentioned book on Oliver Stone.
Most interesting is Anderson’s planning and coordination discussed with the films Fantastic Mr. Fox and Moonrise Kingdom. Readers will see Anderson move from film student to established award winner through this handful of films. Seitz includes mock-ups of documents and books from inside the worlds of these movies as a fun effect, like postcards and stamps from screen captures, and the books created for Moonrise Kingdom that Suzy carried in her suitcase.
Here is a look inside The Wes Anderson Collection, courtesy of the publisher:
Star Trek: Picard’s Michael Chabon provides a foreword. Note the essays in the basic volume end with Moonrise Kingdom, and so readers will find coverage of The Grand Budapest Hotel in a series supplement book The Wes Anderson Collection: The Grand Budapest Hotel, available at Amazon here and his most recent work, Isle of Dogs covered in The Wes Anderson Collection: Isle of Dogs, available here.
If you’re a fan of Wes Anderson, this is for you. And anyone wanting to get an inside look at the writing and directing process from someone who stands alone in his art form will get some education here, too. Matt Seitz’s The Wes Anderson Collection is available here at Amazon.