Film | Wes Anderson Q&A – "Cannes is a little bit hallucinatory"

Image: Fox Searchlight Pictures

Ahead if the release of his new film The Grand Budapest Hotel we asked director Wes Anderson some of our nagging questions.

Your films seem to be set in worlds just one small step away from reality – is there a reason you turn away from straight realism?
I can’t say I’ve ever consciously turned away from anything in particular! But I’m not so sure I know how to describe what I think I turn “towards”, either.

You once said that you try not to repeat yourself in your work but that it keeps happening; are you able to identify your own tropes?
I think I just want to make the thing as interesting or funny and so on as I can manage to get it. Tropes is not a word I have to worry about much or ever.

There is a visual unity to your films that is uniquely attentive, at times almost theatrical, what drives you to this meticulous construction?
Well, I think you just want to try to get lucky with as many good ideas as you can manage to string together and hope it all adds up. You’re trying to create a world for the characters to live in.

This relates to the nostalgic feel of your films. Do you draw more from experience than you might appear to?
I would say most of my movies come partly from people I know or something that happened along the way. You sort of mix it all together.

Did you enjoy having such a large cast working on The Grand Budapest Hotel?
We had a great cast! Lots of old friends. They tend not to all work together at once, but every now and then you get the whole gang going.

Outside of film are there any authors or artists who have heavily influenced your own creativity? Moonrise kingdom seems very reminiscent of the Swallows and Amazons books.
With that one I think the two biggest inspirations were English movies: Melody, which was directed by Waris Hussein from Alan Parker’s script; and Black Jack, which is a wonderful Ken Loach movie from, I think, 1978 or so.

In a similar vein where did the idea for The Grand Budapest Hotel come from?
The character of M. Gustave is modelled on an old friend of ours and we sort of dropped him into the setting of our own version of what I think of as a Stefan Zweig-esque novel. But it turned into more of a comedy along the way.

Your adult characters often seem to be stuck in a state of arrested development, while the younger players often feel far more emotionally developed – why do you play with characterisation in this way?
This is one of those questions I think we have to throw to a shrink.

Moonrise Kingdom saw your first premiere at the Cannes Film Festival – are there any other big cinematic milestones that you are striving for?
The film festivals are usually a good way to get the thing out there. Some are more fun than others. Cannes is a little bit hallucinatory. It’s what I’d call an Adult Dose.

The Grand Budapest Hotel is at the Hyde Park Picture House from Friday 7 March

Joanna Thompson

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