Symbolism in Wes Anderson Movies

Colin Marshall recently commented on about a series of video essays on Wes Anderson films. These are my comments on his comments, but mostly it’s about the symbolism I see in Wes Anderson films.

Wes Anderson Suitcases

  • Suitcases – first few movies they are always silver, last few canvas; they are always matching and of different sizes – like different aged members of a family; they could obviously literally represent emotional baggage, but more likely represent the ties (family) that bind us and that we always carry with us (throughout all films). In the trailer for The Grand Budapest Hotel I noticed the hotel is full of suitcases – as if Wes Anderson is trying to tell us something – like this movie is all of his other movies combined into one hotel full of suitcases.
  • Guns – Bottle Rocket and Life Aquatic both had hand guns, but Mr Fox, Royal Tenenbaums, and Moonrise Kingdom all featured rifles. I think the obvious nod here is to violence, but I almost view it as a contrasting feature to the artistic, loveable characters – it lends to the ironic, comedic tone of the movie underscored by the understating the guns are given in each scene. They serve both as contrast and as comedy.
  • Binoculars – the commentator mentioned this as referencing Star Wars, but I think it’s much more than that. When you look through binoculars, there are many things happening
    • Your power is magnified – you can see farther, which gives you more power
    • You are symbolically looking into the future – children are often seen using binoculars – they want to see what’s coming. Adults do not want to know what’s coming because they are not looking forward to it.
    • You are seeing a mini-movie – what you see through binoculars is like a mini, personal movie inside a movie, which is a metaphor for Wes Anderson films, which are movies about making movies.
  • Trains – trains are featured prominently in Darjeeling Limited and The Grand Budapest Hotel. They are both used to literally move the plot forward and as a way to showcase Wes Anderson’s iconic “dollhouse” sets.