Premièring in competition and as the opening night film of Cannes 2012, Moonrise Kingdom is the latest from Wes Anderson. A tale of a young boy and girl who run away, into the woods, to freedom and to fall in love, Moonrise Kingdom is also coming to UK cinemas in just over a week.
I was lucky enough to get the chance to speak to Director Wes Anderson the day after the première and he spoke at length about a variety of subjects, including working with Bruce Willis, the music in Moonrise Kingdom and the evolution of his filmmaking process. Read on for the interview in full.
Moonrise Kingdom is out in cinemas 25 May
Casting Bruce Willis and whether he experienced any of the same problems that Kevin Smith reportedly did.
Different people have such different experiences with the same person, and my experience is, I think it’s safe to say, the exact polar opposite of Kevin Smith and I don’t know why that would be. I had the idea of casting him because I’ve loved him in so many movies for much of my life and thought that maybe this part could use some of his persona – he’s a policeman in the story – and take it to a different place. I rarely think of an actor in relation to their other work but with this one there’s something he can use to help it. Bruce is very gentle with everyone and he was up for anything. Different people, the chemistry is different.
Choosing the music and the musical ‘themes’ that each character seems to have.
They came at different times in the process, Benjamin Britten’s music was kind of the setting of the whole movie for me. Early on I thought, this is going to filled with Benjamin Britten music. Britten composed music for children and Bernstein conducted several pieces and produced these recordings. So there was that and also it was so much of that period. The scene with the two kids dancing together on the beach to Francoise Hardy, that was kind of the centre of the movie for me. That was something I had very early on and the movie kind of radiated out from that. Whereas the Hank Williams music for Bruce Willis’ character, that was something that when we edited together the first scene with him, my editor and I thought that something needed to be on the radio and our editing room was downstairs from our apartment so I got a few things and tried them. I tried some Hank Williams and that seemed right and next thing we knew we were putting it in every time he appeared and it became his sound.
The central piece of Britten music and its use as a kind of framing device.
That piece I really had at the beginning. Us doing our own version of that [a 'child's instructional piece' about Desplat's music plays over the end credits] came very late in the game and it was because of how we recorded Alexandre Desplat’s music in sections and it just occurred to me to explore taking it apart. I think the orchestra functions as a metaphor for the way a movie works, or something like that. I think it all involved out of Britten’s idea of taking this thing apart this way.
His specific choice of camera movements.
Usually when I’m setting out to make a movie I have an idea of a sort of world that it’s going to take place in and all the details in the design of the movie are me trying to make this world, that’s not really like reality and hopefully not a place you’ve been before. But usually the way I move the camera and the way I stage things is not so much a conscious attempt, it’s more like my handwriting, I feel almost like this is just the way I do it. I’m not happy doing it another way.
Setting the film in such an exact time period (the film has explicit references to being set in 1965).
It seems like the end of, what at least looks like, an innocent period of America. The surface at least seems so. These two kids, twelve in 1965, when they’re eighteen it’ll be a completely different culture. There’s a hint of rock ‘n’ roll in the movie but that’s all there’s going to be in a few years.
Changes to his filmmaking process after making The Fantastic Mr. Fox.
Yeah, there were things I learned. One thing in particular is that on an animated movie the order of events is a bit changed and you end up recording the voices and making a storyboard version that you kind of animate and after you’ve edited that you shoot the movie. Editing before you shoot… And we did that for a number of sequences on this movie. It’s not that unusual, a lot of film directors do pre-vis. Steven Spielberg has been doing that for a number of years but I’ve never really done it. It can help you to do bigger things than you would have been able to do otherwise because you can be so focused and economical and know exactly what you need. It helped me to not make certain mistakes.
This process of ‘debugging’ the movie and whether he showed it to anyone first to get reactions.
It’s a chance to work with my editor before shooting and he’s someone who has a big contribution to make. The ‘debugging’ phrase sounds like a kind of Pixar thing and I know they have a kind of think tank approach, which can be a lot like television where they have a team of writers doing things. You can get a lot out of that kind of work and I know that the Pixar approach involves a lot of reworking and it was the same thing when I was working on The Fantastic Mr. Fox. There’s a lot to be said for it. There’s probably some ways in which it doesn’t entirely translate to [live action] movies. Things that just have to happen on a movie set, you’re waiting for some magic to happen. And that’s a bit different. I certainly got a lot out of it.
His next film.
I know my next film I would like to make in Europe. I’m not sure which country yet. There are a whole range of different places that it could take place. It’ll probably have a lot to do with the tax incentives and that kind of thing when we get down to it. When we need to get financed.
…The script I’m working on now, no-one has a family. And I didn’t think about that until afterwards and I thought, gosh everybody is alone. There are many characters and everyone is alone.