Moonrise Kingdom: A Fantastical Adventure for Children of All Ages

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There’s really nothing to review here because I absolutely loved this film. I really can’t think of anything I didn’t enjoy. Even the “lightning scene” was illuminating to me because it mirrored the fantastical novels Suzy would read throughout the film. The film showed not only the power of children’s imagination, but the power they have when working together.

Of course, my favorite element of Wes Anderson’s films mise-en-scene was impeccable. It was like a slice right out of 1965, and I don’t know about anyone else but now I’d really like to live on Penzance Island… And of course the cinematography was delightful, the acting superb, and the story utterly charming.

(You can watch wonderful clips from the film here: http://movieclips.com/8sNtB-moonrise-kingdom-movie-new-penzance-island/17.195/46.858/)

The film centers around an impossible love story between Sam and Suzy, who run away to be together. On the sidelines lies a broken marriage, an affair, summer camps, and an impending storm. All of these elements come together to both conspire against and eventually support Suzy and Sam’s love story.

Throughout the film Anderson employs many homages to other famous directors such as Jean-Luc Godard (and his famous roll-shots), Peter Greenaway, as well as notible art figures such as Canadian artist (Pride!!) Alex Colville’s famous painting “To Prince Edward Island”:

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What I loved so much about this film in particular was that the action for once centered around children and focused on their innocence and wonderment with the world, rather than aging adult angry and lethargic with how their life turned out. And while that’s not a critique of any of his other films, this film was just a breath of fresh air from some of the conventions we’ve come to expect from his films.

Final verdict? Would watch again. Over and over.

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Mise-en-Scene as an art: Drowning by Numbers

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I love when people talk about Wes Anderson as the king of mise-en-scene. And while he is quite genius in his immaculate sets which often mirror his character’s personas, he is nowhere near the fore-founder of such conventions. Such presision and attention to detail can also be seen in the film Survive Style 5+ (2004, Gen Sekiguchi) which I’ve already mentioned on the site, is a master at the intricate mise-en-scene:

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(An awesome example of sets and costumes within the mise-en-scene)

Peter Greenaway, well known within the filmic community but generally ignored by the general public (unlike Wes Anderson’s films), is the true visionary when it comes to mise-en-scene and cinematography. Greenaway has been making and continues to make films for almost 5 decades, drawing similarities to other visionary directors such as Jean-Luc Godard. Greenaway is a master at telling a story through everything seen on screen (props, sets, lights, actors etc), making the mise-en-scene even stronger sometimes than the actual plot or narrative.

Drowning by Numbers (1988) is absolute visual candy. We watch as Greenaway masterfully weaves the numbers 1 through 100 throughout the film, foreshadowed by the girl playing jump-rope and counting at the beginning of the film. And I mean literally, every number is present somewhere in the film. Such as the rather sneaky number 3:

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Or the more obvious and cheeky number 96:

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This one is particularly humorous in that number 96 and 95 are runners who eventually become characters in the film only referred to by their numbers. Also pay close attention to the car’s license plates. That takes care of 97 and 98 too.

The film follows three Cissies, representing three generations, who all go on to murder their husbands by drowning them. Their husbands are largely adulterous, uninterested men who do not satisfy their wives. The most puzzling murder is that of the youngest Cissie, who generally seems to love her boyfriend, and even sheds tears when he does drown.

This masterful use of mise-en-scene represents a meta-level of film. It is a nod to art and the very way in which filmic art is composed. It challenges us as an audience as well, as we literally engage with the film world in looking for these visual clues, a filmic treasure hunt if you will.

While films like Wes Anderson’s the mise-en-scene is simply a delightful addition to an already engaging plot, Greenaway’s films could not have the power they do without using mise-en-scene as a character within the film itself.

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