No contemporary filmmaker has a more distinctive style than Wes Anderson, and his visual genius goes beyond his signature interiors and detailed prop styling. In fact, his use of color is intrinsic to the storytelling. Anderson’s palettes speak to the characters, the moods, and the themes of the unique, whimsical worlds he creates.
We’ve pulled out the dominant colors from some iconic Wes Anderson scenes. Can you identify the film based on the scene’s color palette?
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Fifty Shades of
The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
That’s right! You can’t miss the oceanography crew’s uniforms—bright blue tops and bottoms, with bold red beanies are everywhere in this film. A little something to think about come Halloween...
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Anchors aweigh! You can’t miss the oceanography crew’s uniforms—bright blue tops and bottoms, with bold red beanies everywhere in this film. (Wes loves a good saturated red.)
Which Wes Anderson movie is this?
Fantastic Mr. Fox
You got it! This is one of Anderson’s two films using stop-motion animation, a common technique from children’s movies of his youth. Its earthy tones fit the subterranean setting, and there’s plenty of yellow and red—two of Wes’ favorite colors.
Precisely! Here, Anderson tells the story of the hotel’s degradation through color. Notice how the colors in the modern version of the Zubrowkan resort pale in comparison to those of its vibrant heyday.
Isle of Dogs
Woof! Isle of Dogs’ Trash Island is appropriately bleak, dominated by dreary grays and rusty browns. Against a boring background, the characters in the foreground provide shocks of color.
The Darjeeling Limited
Nailed it! The contrasting funeral scenes in The Darjeeling Limited are practically a crash course in Andersonian color theory. The first is a bright, floral Indian setting, with an explosion of joyous colors; the second is dominated by somber funereal tones of the American version.
Great job, Khaki Scout! A heavy yellow saturation pervades nearly all of Moonrise Kingdom, giving it a nostalgic feel. It’s shot almost entirely outside at a campsite, so earthy tones of brown and green round out its color palette.
Bingo! The velvety golds in the Tenenbaums’ urban palace exude faded glory, while Ben Stiller’s Chas and his sons literally wear their hearts on their sleeves. Chas’ blood-red Adidas tracksuit conveys his pain over his relationship with his father, Royal.
Correct! Anderson’s latest film is inspired by The New Yorker of the 20th century and includes a number of newsprint black-and-white scenes. The color scenes make heavy use of warm, comforting yellows and blues.
Yes! While the colors of Anderson’s second feature are more muted than in his later works, the soothing blue reinforces Max’s natural intelligence, despite his academic freefall.
Correct! Anderson’s first feature includes uniforms of bold red and warm yellow—Owen Wilson in yellow, Luke in red—to trace criminal transformations. When Luke goes Team Yellow, his corruption is complete.
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