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Digging: A Case Study

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The first time I bumped into the curious motif of digging in Wes Anderson’s films was in high school, as I researched his film Fantastic Mr. Fox (Anderson, 2009) for my thesis project. Even back then, almost a decade ago, I was struck by Anderson’s own words in an interview when asked why he made the film, for he replied that as a child he had loved to dig. What was it about digging that drew Anderson to it so? This semester, as we dove deep into the intricate filmography of Wes Anderson and his many inspirations, I finally began understood the meaning of kinetic energy in his films and everything began to fall into place. As Mark Olsen writes, “Anderson is interested less in the lack of forward movement than in the kinetic excitement of energy displaced – life as a colorful pinwheel” (13). In other words, for Anderson part of kinetics is the pure enjoyment of them; the pure joy they offer his characters and his audience. Not everything has to have a meaning, and even if it does, that doesn’t mean it can’t be done with joy. It felt natural to display this case study in the form of a video essay, for as a very visual motif in the films, it would be best described and analyzed via visual tools. My aim in this video essay is to introduce the viewer to Anderson’s world of kinetics, and then analyze the case study of digging via three of his films: Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Grand Budapest Hotel (Anderson, 2014), and Isle of Dogs (Anderson, 2018), all while trying to understand what digging, as a kinetic motif, has to offer in Anderson’s cinematic world.

This video essay was made as part of Wes Anderson course taught by Yaron Baruch, as part of the undergraduate studies at the Steve Tisch School of Film and Television, Tel Aviv University, Semester B 2021.

Shira Chait, 2021.

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