Island Getaway: Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom

In his new film “Moonrise Kingdom,” which kicks off the Cannes film festival on May 16, writer-director Wes Anderson is stepping up the prep.

Anderson has consistently shown a keen eye for style in his films, at times incorporating prep elements, such as the uniform of blazers, blue oxfords and rep ties at the eponymous academy in “Rushmore” (filmed partly at the St. John’s School in Houston, which Anderson attended). In a recent article, the French newspaper Libération referred to Anderson as “le dandy texan.”

But more often than not, those prep elements were part of a more electic whole. In “Rushmore,” for example, the protagonist finishes off his uniform with Rod Lavers with red laces and a red beret. As one of his producers says, Anderson’s “previous movies always existed in a time that you couldn’t quite place, mixing past and present.”

By contrast, in “Moonrise Kingdom” we are very clearly in trad territory. The setting is “an island off the coast of New England in the summer of 1965,” according to the synopsis on the film’s website.

Helping to set the scene are the madras pants, navy cardigan and tortoise-shell P3 glasses worn by Bill Murray, who plays a lawyer and the father of a girl who runs away. In an article on the website about the costumes, Murray describes the madras pants as being “made out of separate squares of loud material sewn together.” He also laments that “they’re so short.”

Bruce Willis, playing the local sheriff, also sports P3s, of the clear-frame variety. And scoutmaster Ed Norton’s robe and tent are a riot of plaids (despite the fact that the name of the troop he leads is the “Khaki Scouts”). Even the narrator, played by Bob Balaban, gets in on the LL Bean act, wearing duck boots in the movie poster.

The film was shot in Rhode Island, and “there is definitely that certain New England feel to it,” the film’s art director says. The set decorator adds, “This movie has a bit of a different aesthetic than Wes’ other movies; it’s a little more rough around the edges, and a little more lived-in.”

Filmgoers and trad aficionados alike can judge for themselves when “Moonrise Kingdom” hits U.S. theaters on May 26. — MATTHEW BENZ

Matthew Benz is an American writer and lawyer living in Paris.

4 Comments on "Island Getaway: Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom"

  1. I had no clue that Wes Anderson had anything in the pipeline. After watching the trailer, I think I’ll put my money on “Moonrise Kingdom” rather than “Damsels in Distress”. I can’t put my finger on it, but the “DiD” trailer just looked like 90+ minutes of squirming in my seat and checking my watch waiting for it to end.

  2. I can’t wait to see it. I love the whole Wes esthetic.

  3. Mitch McDonald | July 3, 2012 at 7:19 am |

    If I were an older gent, I’d wear madras and oxfords every day. They would got well with the P3’s and antique Cartier. Great look.

  4. Mitch, we older gentlemen don’t wear expensive watches, we have a tendency to fall down a lot and misplace things.

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