Wes Anderson talks ‘Moonrise Kingdom’
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Deconstructing ‘Moonrise Kingdom’

Wes Anderson talks ‘Moonrise Kingdom’
Wes Anderson’s rapturous story of young love, “Moonrise Kingdom,” won raves from critics and audiences alike, making it the filmmaker’s most successful movie since “The Royal Tenenbaums.” We spoke to Anderson recently about the film, which is just out on home video and square in the awards-season conversation. Click through the gallery to learn his inspirations for this magical movie. (Focus Features)
40 days and 40 nights
“When I was in fourth grade or so, my older brother and I were in a school production of Benjamin Britten’s opera, ‘Noah’s Flood.’ It was a giant thing. They even brought in a ringer from Rice University to run the show.” ()
Grand plans
“I was an otter, and my costume was exactly what the kids wore in the movie. That wasn’t the original plan, though. I had planned to model the production on the original, Britten-directed production. The rehearsals were fully covered by Life magazine, and that’s what I wanted to be our inspiration.” ()
Plan B: Recreating Wes’ history
“But we ended up without enough time or money. So my mother went to the school library and got photographs of the production my brother and I had been in. Originally, I was going to have the kids -- or their parents -- make them, like you do in school. But the costume department didn’t feel comfortable with that. They’re still felt, though, just like the school costumes.” ()
Forget arrows -- Cupid shoots thunderbolts
“Falling in love at that age is like a thunderbolt. It’s about as strong a feeling as you can have. That’s what I wanted the movie to be about. You end up feeling a spell has been cast over you and the whole world has been transformed. It’s like a suspended state. I remember that very clearly from that time.” (Focus Features)
Memory of a fantasy
“Was there a specific girl that I remember? Yes. But it was all in my mind. We had conversations, but I doubt they amounted to more than 30 words over the course of several years.” ()
The real deal
“I wanted to find kids who were going to be interesting, but also feel like the real thing. And you have that nice contrast between them in the way she’s taller and more mature. It’s not automatic that they’ll be authentic when you put them in this fictional world, and I thought they did have that.” (Focus Features)
Homework assignment
“Yes, I did give Jared (Gilman) a copy of ‘Escape From Alcatraz’ to watch. Who knows what the idea was behind that? Toughen him up a little bit. I don’t know why we had to go to the criminal world to get that point across, but that seemed to be the thing that jumped in my mind.” (UCLA Arts Library Special Collection)
‘Try a little Clint’
“This is probably not considered good directing, but I do find every now and then that I’ll say to somebody on take seven, ‘Maybe try a little Clint (Eastwood) in it and see what that’s like.’ Everybody interprets it in a different way. But usually you get something a little gravely.” (Focus Features)
Reading list
“Kara (Hayward) is a big reader. I suggested some books that relates to her character, books like ‘Bridge to Terabithia’ and Madeleine L’Engle, but she’d already read them. There was one that she hadn’t read -- ‘Over Sea, Under Stone’ by Susan Cooper. They’re all fantasy books like her character reads in the movie.” ()
If you build it ...
“We built the interior of the family’s house in an abandoned Linens ‘n Things. Before ‘Fantastic Mr. Fox,’ it wouldn’t have occurred to me to envision something I’m never going to find anywhere. On that movie, we had to make everything. So, now, I feel a little more free to say, ‘I have an idea and we’re not going to find it. Let’s build it ourselves.’” ()
I don’t want to grow up
“The grown-ups, there’s a sadness about all those characters. The children don’t have the ability to envision things not working out. They’ve never had the disappointment. So they’re much more open to being surprised and optimistic and bold. They’re very bold.” (Focus Features)
The kids (might) be all right
“I think the kids might turn out better than the adults. They put themselves way out there. And it sort of works out for them. Maybe that will bolster them. Maybe that will strengthen them.” (Focus Features)