An Auteurist Critique of The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

985 words 4 pages
An Auteurist Critique of The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

Wes Anderson is a world-renowned filmmaker known for creating vividly colorful films that are consistent with his auteur signature. Though he has only directed 7 films (not including his upcoming film and two short films), he is a perfect example of how even a small body of work can demonstrate auteur theory. Anderson’s films have frequent themes, visual and methodological style and he even uses a lot of the same actors in most of his films. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004) is a great example to demonstrate Wes Anderson’s stylistic use of pastel color schemes, symmetrical shot composition, and thematic use of story elements such as trust, acceptance, child-like
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Anderson also uses an ample amount of tracking shots throughout his films. The most notable scene that takes advantage of the tracking shot is the scene where Steve and Ned argue while walking about the ship. The camera follows the characters as they go through rooms, doors, climb ladders and stairs until they end up on the top deck. Anderson also tries to fit as many people into frame as possible in every film. Near the end of The Life Aquatic is a medium shot of 11 people sitting in Steve Zissou’s tiny submarine. These shots are a trademark of any Anderson film. In fact, he uses this framing at least 5 other times in the film. These types of shots often have a lot going on inside of them. The foreground is usually where the key action takes place but Anderson takes full advantage of his framing. Often times there are minor characters interacting with the scene elements behind them. For example, in the scene where Steve is talking to his producer, one of the crewmembers in the background is tinkering with an electrical box and causes a blackout on the ship. Behind the producer a child is reaching his hand inside a fish tank and antagonizing Steve’s pet fish. Lastly, Anderson uses over-the-head-shot when showing a message or words of importance. This can be seen in Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009), Moonrise