Moonlight with a Wes Anderson Twist

By Joseph and TK

For our project, we decided to recreate scenes from the movie “Moonlight” using the film and style techniques of director, Wes Anderson. Anderson is an indie movie director who’s most well known movies include “Isle of Dogs”, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”, “The Fantastic Mr. Fox” and “Moonrise Kingdom”. Throughout all of his movies, Anderson’s directing style stands out very vibrantly in tone and theatrics. Some recurring cinematographic elements of Anderson’s style include tracking shots, zoom, profile shots, symmetrical framing, overhead shots and whip pans. Some of Anderson’s theatrical elements include warm and cool color palettes, non-diegetic plinking harpsichord music, one or more childish adult characters, smoking, characters explaining elaborate plans, action, violence, stylish attire, foreigners, a vintage/ old timey aesthetic, shots of writing, and an assortment of recurring actors and actresses. We chose to incorporate Anderson’s style to “Moonlight” because we loved the concept of revamping a dark toned movie into something more vibrant and lighthearted. To accomplish this goal, we chose some scenes from “Moonlight” that we thought had potential to be reiterated through Anderson’s directing style. We then looked at Then we drew these scenes and placed them in a storyboard panel. We also were deliberate in our camera angles and essentially eliminate dimensions to give our scenes a very “flat look”.

These cinematography decisions echo Wes Anderson’s emphasis on aesthetic rather than the actual plot. Since Moonlight deals with a lot of important and heavy topics, changing the scenes to make it seem as if they are right out of a coloring book definitely in some ways dilutes the message. The overall design of his shots, including bright color palettes and fixed camera angles helps readers to disassociate from the societal context and instead pay close attention to the story unfolding between the main characters and everything that surrounds their situation. For instance, during the Grand Budapest, the audience was oftentimes too distracted by the bright colors and whimsical characters to remember a war being the backdrop. Even though the storyline was nothing spectacular or ground breaking, the attention to detail truly compensated for a somewhat lackluster plot. At the time of the creation of the  Grand Budapest, Wes Anderson utilized the advent of the anamorphic lenses to capture wide scenes within a single camera frame.

With Moonlight, we decided to use Wes Anderson’s style of directing to take the audience’s attention away from the harsh backdrop that is Chyron’s neighborhood, school, and home life, and instead focus the attention on the better parts of Chyron’s coming of age story. Through color and framing, we used our storyboard to communicate just that. In each panel, we drew pictures that involved vibrant colors and our desired camera angles. We drew a lot of wide/ medium shots, zoom, and made the backdrops pop with warm and cool colors. In terms of positioning characters, such as Kevin, Juan, or Chyron, we drew them face to face to highlight whatever intimacy they may have. Through these changes, we hope to help audiences remember the better and pure parts of “Moonlight” rather than just the harsh backdrop of Chyron’s life.