Book Review: ‘The Wes Anderson Collection’

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‘Wes Anderson Collection’ by Matt Zoller Seitz

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The Wes Anderson Collection is one hell of an impressive book. Flipping through its first few pages I thought, “this book was meant for my coffee table.” And I don’t mean that because of its hefty size, but rather the way the book is laid out and how it lends itself to multiple readings. It’s a direct reflection of Wes’ movies in the sense that because it is obsessively rich in detail and full of complexities, it’s hard to fully grasp everything your eyeballs see in one sitting.

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The book is dedicated to Wes Anderson’s first seven films starting with 1996’s Bottle Rocket and ending with 2013’s Moonrise Kingdom. Through Matt Zoller Seitz’s personal connection with Wes since meeting him after his Bottle Rocket short film had its debut at Sundance in 1994, we get rare one-on-one in-depth interviews with Wes for each film. It’s intriguing to see how Wes got his start and how his inspiration comes from such diverse and myriad sources. Because Wes makes movies both stylistically and thematically unlike anyone else, it’s a pleasure being invited to glimpse how Wes’ mind spins as he crafts his worlds.

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The Wes Anderson Collection is a marvel because of its depth of material. The large photo spreads with stills from movies, behind the scenes coverage, and quirks such as “fan art” have a definite “wow” factor while staying true to the now iconic “Andersonian” taste. That taste is what makes this book so interesting. If there was ever to be a book dedicated to a director’s body of work, there is no better director that lends him/herself to being visually suitable for print more than Wes Anderson.

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Each film gets its own section of the book, making it easy for a reader to skip ahead to whichever film they are interested in. Each film’s illustrations that introduce a new section might be the highlight of the book for me. It adds a little fun to the book and reminds me of Where’s Waldo? as you search for a specific character or scene from a movie.

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Because of the almost 20 year span this book covers, it can’t help but point out how Wes’ style has changed, yet stayed consistent throughout his filmography. He’s continued to surprise and stretch himself while never becoming predictable. The interviews seem very off-the-cuff and we get to hear a very honest and humble Wes analyze his work and the work of his collaborators.

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Wes Anderson’s body of work speaks for itself and has been endlessly praised by critics and fans alike. But The Wes Anderson Collection is a book not only for the obvious Wes Anderson fans. Anyone who can enjoy learning about the creative process of an artist and American filmmaker, responsible for some of the most recognizable and meticulously crafted characters ever dreamed of, can become wrapped up in the book’s imagery and knowledge.

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Because a Wes Anderson movie can seem repetitive on its surface to non-fans, this book is a great reminder of the depth and dedication Wes has to always make the most interesting choices in his films. It’s this level of artistry that makes each of his films their own separate towers of achievement. It allows new generations of fans the ability to fall in love with a picture of his and begin to appreciate his signature on each of his films.

And what better way to get excited for next year’s The Grand Budapest Hotel than with The Wes Anderson Collection?

If you’re interested in the book you can watch a trailer for the book below or buy from Amazon.

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