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The French Dispatch - Storytelling by Wes Anderson

Wes Anderson is one of the most popular directors of our time, whose films are watched online and eagerly awaited in theaters. Each of his shots is incredibly rich in detail and information, and often looks like a beautiful photo spread for social media.

In addition, Wes Anderson himself is a great film buff, and his directorial style has been shaped largely by the strata of film history that he has picked up in his lifetime. His film The French Herald: A Supplement to Liberty. Kansas Evening Sun" received very high marks from audiences and critics alike.

On the example of this film, let's look at the basic ways of storytelling that Wes Anderson uses. What is the secret of his visual storytelling?

What kind of movie is this?

The French Herald is a collection of film novellas. A screen adaptation of articles from an issue of the newspaper. And articles that are republished because of the death of the newspaper's editor-in-chief. This is why most of them are in black and white - they tell stories of bygone days.

It is essentially an expression of Wes Anderson's love for The New Yorker, which he read as a child. And journalism itself.

The film is set in the fictional French town of Annuny-sur-Blaize. The cast is very stellar and traditional for the director.

Wes Anderson gives almost no interviews - he says that everything he could, he said with his films. But what techniques does he use to do this?

Techniques of visual and semantic storytelling in Wes Anderson's films

Centering + Symmetry

Despite the popularity of the rule of thirds and the golden ratio, almost all of Anderson's shots are structured so that the main subject/person is located symmetrically in the center. And it is thanks to the large number of such shots that the effect of a special impact on the viewer is achieved.


Almost every frame of Wes Anderson has a lot of homogeneous or, on the contrary, quite diverse subjects. The picture wants to be looked at again and again, it is very eye-catching and creates a feeling of strong visual saturation.


All the objects in the frame have been thought out to the smallest detail. Such strong detail and many small objects enhance the viewer's curiosity.


It's a technique where the camera follows the hero as if passing homogeneous obstacles. First of all, it looks very stylish, and secondly, it makes us feel even more connected to the hero.

Color palette

The bright, saturated colors, perfectly matched together, of course, were not chosen by chance, and they also give the films of Wes Anderson a special charm.

Costumes of the main characters

Wes Anderson's films have costume designers working on them, making the look-and-feel of the characters so juicy and perfectly matched.
The plan from above
Wes Anderson often shoots from above, as if from the hero's point of view. This, too, helps the viewer to associate more strongly with the character in the film. As if he were writing a letter, setting the table, typing.

Sharp approaches and distances. And smooth ones, too.

This is necessary in order to add dynamics to the film. Ten minutes into the film, after the second-to-second changes in shots with sharp zooms and detailed backgrounds, it seems to us that there's just too much to pay more attention to. But not too much.

Fonts and strokes

Stylish and atmospherically appropriate graphic elements complete the picture and make it look lighter.

Slow Mo

One of the director's favorite tricks is to slow down the action. He resorts to this method when he wants to focus our attention on something.

Grotesque and ridiculous

Over-theatrical fights, exaggerated emotions and comical scenes are also an integral element of Wes Anderson's films.

Отсылки и алююзии

Since Wes Anderson is a connoisseur of cinematography and a man with a wealth of observation, many of his films refer to certain directors. For example, he took the same centering from Stephen King. Here is a funny video where you can directly see how the two films "The Shining" and "The Grand Budapest Hotel" could be one film, so similar are the styles of the directors.


Each character in "The French Herald" is an independent, vivid and interesting character. This, too, is one of the features of the film.

Working with the same actors

It is noteworthy that Wes Anderson's favorite actors and friends move with him from one film to another. And many of them have already become stars of the first magnitude, like Bill Murray! Why Wes keeps them - it is unclear, but probably he is a very good man and a professional.
What is Wes Anderson's world like?
Bright, contrasting, a little comical. Very stylish and well thought out in detail. It looks like a collection of beautiful pictures, a little sad, telling of difficulties in family and personal life. Unusual, unlike anything else.
What can we learn for ourselves here?
  • How to take a photo
    We can take any shots from Anderson's films and try to replicate them. As we will have to do a lot of fiddling and detailing, it will definitely turn out cool and not like the original, but it will attract attention!
  • How to shoot video
    You can take all the video techniques I've described and give yourself a training session - practice them one by one as exercises, and then try to shoot straight into a Wes Anderson-esque video. If you practice, these techniques will become commonplace and you'll rise to a new level of quality.
  • How to tell stories
    You can apply all of the points we've covered here when telling your story.
There are many colourful and interesting directors in the art world. For example, Wes Anderson, whose rich and detailed world is now at the peak of popularity.

We can analyse them, identify the main features and principles of storytelling, and then use these principles to create our own story.