Watch the five French films that inspired Wes Anderson’s French Dispatch
The king of quirky comedy, A.K.A Wes Anderson, is back with his latest feature film The French Dispatch. A five-star cast (Owen Wilson, Frances McDormand, Bill Murray, Timothée Chalet, Tilda Swinton...), an imaginary French town (Ennui-sur-Blasé) : this could well be Anderson’s finest work to date. Although his universe is unique, he sent critics a list of 32 films that inspired the world of The French Dispatch. Here are five of the most striking titles from this list.
1 - Mon Oncle, Jacques Tati (1958)
Before Wes Anderson, there was Jacques Tati. The French director, master of the subtle art of awkward comedy, developed from the 1940s to the 1970s the whimsical character of Monsieur Hulot, the filmmaker's double. A child stuck in an adult body much too big for him. Mon Oncle synthesizes the perfection of Tati's very symmetrical universe. This film will transport you to France in the middle of the post-WWII renaissance. The iconic theme of the film, by the late composer Franck Barcellini, is impossible to forget, with its beautiful, quirky melancholy.
2 - The Red Balloon, Albert Lamorisse (1956)
If you have never seen Albert Lamorisse's films, you are about to discover a colorful, poetic world, far from the violence and the complexity of reality. So many qualifiers that would apply equally well to Wes Anderson's films. The Red Balloon, a delicate story of a child wandering through Paris, takes us through the steep streets of Montmartre. It's a journey into a Paris that no longer exists, and one sees many similarities with Ennui-sur-Blasé. Lamorisse shows the innocence of a long-gone Paris, its suburbs, its working-class neighborhoods, Belleville, Montmartre, Ménilmontant, before their recent gentrification.
3 - Shoot the Piano Player, François Truffaut, 1961
Perhaps more than any other directors, Truffaut has influenced Wes Anderson's cinema since his beginnings. The 400 Blows was the direct inspiration for Rushmore, the second feature film of the Texas director. Many critics have seen in Jason Schwartzman an alter ego of Anderson, as Jean-Pierre Léaud could have been the double of the Parisian director. In The French Dispatch, Wes Anderson borrows from Truffaut's love of crime films, which the French director has tackled in several films, including Shoot the Piano player. In this lesser-known film from the early 60s, a romance is thwarted by a criminal plot, echoing some scenes from Anderson's last film.
4 & 5 - Masculin-Féminin (1966) and La Chinoise (1967), Jean-Luc Godard
Who other than Godard could have inspired a political comedy, with scenes of rebellion, wise puns and students’ protests? When one thinks of 1960s France and its counter-culture, Godard comes to mind immediately. If the films of the New Wave director have become iconic objects of a certain idea of mid-20th century pop culture, both titles chosen by Wes Anderson in his list of inspirations show Jean-Pierre Léaud confronting the reality of his world. Just like the characters played by Lyna Khoudri and Timothée Chalamet, tormented idealists ready to fight for the ideals.