Excellence in Direction #2: The Royal Tenenbaums

It took me far too long to discover the wonderful world of Mr. Wes Anderson but once I did I was astonished. Each of his films has emits this radiance that draws you in and allows you to explore this miraculous world that you had never seen before. I’ve seen three of his films: The Royal Tenenbaums, Moonrise Kingdom, and The Darjeeling Limited. All three of which were wonderful experiences. So when I decided to sit down and find my favorite scene of his I was faced with a challenge. After about a half-hour searching through clips on youtube I found two specific scenes that were examples of perfection, and both of them were from The Royal Tenenbaums.

The first scene that I found was the six minute introduction segment of the film set to the song “Hey Jude”. I love the use of music in films which is one of the many reasons why I love Wes Anderson’s style. The songs that he selects always complement his scenes and almost seem to take them to a new level. This is exactly what occurs at the beginning of The Royal Tenenbaums. Not only do you have Alec Baldwin’s narration, Gene Hackman being Gene Hackman, and Anderson’s signature camerawork but also the melody of “Hey Jude” playing in the background. It all just fits together and results in one of my favorite introductions of all time.

The next scene contains spoilers.

The second scene that I found from The Royal Tenenbaums occurs later in the film and is focused on the performance given by Luke Wilson. Again a lot of my praise for this scene revolves around its expert use of music, but rather than repeating myself I am going to focus on the two other aspects of this scene that make it great: Cinematography and Luke Wilson. Luke Wilson is not an actor that gets a lot, or really any praise, but here as Richie he is immaculate. In this scene Richie is deeply depressed about his love of his sister, Margot, and is preparing to commit suicide. Most of the scene is Richie staring into the mirror (the camera) and shaving off all of his facial hair along with his head. This transformation is shown by a series of cuts in time as he is shaving. During this transformation the entire room he is in is dark and the walls are blue as is to represent his depression. There are two master shots in this sequence. First is when Richie finished shaving and the camera changes angles to see him in the mirror as he turns a flickering light on. The other is images of his memories with Margot that quickly changes to a shot of his hands over the sink where all his hair is and blood just pouring from his arms. It is a very dark turn in the film but it is a brilliant scene none-the-less.

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