My blog has moved!

You should be automatically redirected to the new home page in 60 seconds. If not, please visit
and be sure to update your bookmarks. Sorry about the inconvenience.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Shoot the Projectionist has declared September Wes Anderson month, as all months should be. I was all prepared to take issue with his first post when I saw the link from The House Next Door ("Wes Anderson, Nostalgia, and the 11-Year-Old Point of View"), but I wound up mostly agreeing with it, though I would have phrased the central point rather differently. It's not that Wes Anderson chooses to shoot things from the perspective of an eleven-year-old because he's hung up on childhood, but rather that (at least for the characters he's focused on thus far, Bottle Rocket definitely included) there simply is no other perspective from which to film. For Anderson, the same tragicomic feelings of surreality, anxiety, and time-is-running-out impermanence that characterize childhood characterize the entirety of all our lives; the differences between the two states are differences in content, not form.

This is to say that, for Anderson, childhood is the form adult life takes. We never grow up. We can't. There's nothing to grow up into.

Anderson's entire project is predicated on this centrality of entropy, loss, and nostalgia in human life, and the ways in which we learn to live with them. If you don't buy that that's what life is like, you're not going to be a Wes Anderson fan. I buy it, and so I am.

UPDATE: I really like what Ed has to say in his follow-up to my comment:

Those of us that love--and recognize ourselves in--Anderson's movies, are not necessarily obsessed with our childhoods so much as we see no difference between childhood and adulthood. I've been told I was a crotchety old curmudgeon since I was a child, and now, as an adult, I'm often referred to as child-like. This is an element of the Salinger association that I considered bringing up but left out for fluidity's sake. In Salinger, all of the kids act like grown-ups and all of the adults act like children. Think of "Rushmore"'s Dirk Calloway and Mr. Blume.

But, for me, when things start to get really profound is in "Tenenbaums" when these twin impulses are merged into single bodies: each of the Tenenbaum children is a prodigy, the very definition of a precocious child. As an adult, though, each of them is in stasis, and therefore child-like. By the fact of exhibiting the same behavior that once read as "adult," they are now childish.