Sunday, May 4, 2014

Moonrise Kingdom: the truth in its absurdity

Wes Anderson, the director of the cult classic, Moonrise Kingdom, makes use of camera shots, lighting, music, and the setting to set the mood and tone for this quirky movie. Set in an older era, the summer of 1965, the story is simplistic. It follows the forbidden love of a young girl and boy as the society around them tries to stop their eloping. While the story mimics Shakespeare’s well known tragedy, Romeo and Juliet, Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom is much more comical. The love between Romeo and Juliet is greatly romanticized and often sought out by popular culture because of the characters’ passion, impulsive, and tragic circumstances. It is not often seen as silly, trivial, or comical even though the story takes place within a time span of approximately four or five days. Moonrise Kingdom’s much younger protagonists, however, are harder to take seriously. To be quite honest, none of the characters can really be taken seriously. But that’s the point of movie. Wes Anderson takes the classic Shakespearean, romantic tragedy and reworks it with a twist. His “Romeo” and “Juliet” are two twelve year olds running away from home for the sake of love, but their youth makes the love between them seem silly and trivial. Their naivety and age makes it easy for the audience to dismiss the love between them as being “child’s play”. However, viewers will realize by the end of the movie that the love between these two twelve year olds cannot be more genuine. In fact, it might be the most genuine and earnest thing in the movie. The time period in which the movie is set, the summer of 1965, is characterized by bright pastel colors, the emerging American nuclear family, and plastic-like artificial perfection. Wes Anderson makes use of the time period and camera shots to flip our perception of what it earnest and what is superficial by illustrating the society around the two characters to be “fake” and “doll-like”. This is captured in the opening scenes of the movie. The shots of the room are taken at a distance so that the room is perfectly square and open to the audience like the room of a doll house. The furniture is impeccably neat as are the children and the clothes, to the point where everything seems slightly unnatural. The makeup of the grown women also reflects this artificial perfection. The doll-like makeup would have been “in style” during this particular period but it’s also purposeful. The sharp, black eyeliner, colorful eye shadow, and pink lipstick are as artificial as the “perfect” relationships that exist between the husbands and wives, parents and children, and teachers and students. The characters within this film have very little (if any) sense of humor and take matters very seriously, but that’s what makes this film a comedy. The unexpected truth and honesty behind this very young love reveals the superficiality of the society around them and evokes humor. It’s a contradiction to our expectation that romantic love belongs the “adult world” and is based on maturity; it’s a situation that is rarely seen in real life, and it’s madness. But there is truth in the oddity of this situation which gives the simplistic and comedic nature of the story depth.

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