While the films of Wes Anderson are marked by his impeccable eye for framing and design, but bubbling beneath the surface are a wide variety of influences. From the original stories that emerged during the heyday of 1970s America cinema in pictures by Robert Altman, Hal Ashby and Bob Rafelson, to Francois Truffaut’s tender and emotional films, Anderson works them all into something uniquely his own.
For his upcoming, stop-motion animated “Isle Of Dogs,” the filmmaker credits another director with stoking the fires of inspiration: Hayao Miyazaki. It’s probably not a surprise that the great animator behind countless Studio Ghibli classics would come to bear on a story set in Japan. However, speaking at the Berlin International Film Festival where “Isle Of Dogs” has premiered, Anderson explains the genesis of the movie, and how Miyazaki’s style influenced his movie.
“Jason [Schwartzman], Roman [Coppola], and I started this project with wanting to do a movie about some dogs abandoned on a garbage dump, a pack of dogs who live on garbage,” Anderson said. “But we had also been talking about wanting to do something in Japan, about Japan, something related to our shared love of Japanese cinema, especially [Akira] Kurosawa. The story could’ve taken place anywhere, but it came together when we realized it should take place in a fantasy version of Japan.”
“We started with the dogs. How do we take this dog story that we already want to tell and find where it’s going to lead us? What do the dogs want to do? When you’re working on a script, you don’t necessarily have the whole thing in mind. You’re gathering things and searching for what the movie is going to be,” he added.
The movie turned out to be a story involving dogs in an Anderson-ized version of Japan, which allowed the filmmaker to pay tribute to Japanese filmmaking legends.
“I really got interested in Japanese animation in the time before I did ‘Fantastic Mr. Fox.’ It wasn’t like I was a huge animation guy. This one, there are two directors who are our inspirations: Kurosawa and Miyazaki,” he said. “[Miyazaki] brings the detail and also the silences I think. With Miyazaki you get nature and you get moments of peace, a kind of rhythm that is not in the American animation tradition so much. That inspired us quite a lot. There were times when I worked with [composer] Alexandre Desplat on the score and we found many places where we had to pull back from what we were doing musically because the movie wanted to be quiet. That came from Miyazaki.”
It’s very encouraging words from an animated movie that looks like a refreshing change after a pretty dire year for the form in 2017.
“Isle Of Dogs” opens on March 23rd. [Indiewire]