Mark March 23rd on your calendar, because the release of Wes Anderson’s most recent animated film might be exactly what we all need right now.
The beginning of March indicated the awaited Academy Awards, reminding us all of 2018’s undoubtable success in art direction and cinematography. Yet, even though the Oscar nominations are still in the spotlight, a fresh wave of films is already being shown at international film festivals. At the 68th Berlinale, Wes Anderson, director of The Grand Budapest Hotel, opened the festival with his new stop-motion animated film Isle of Dogs.
Festival director Dieter Kosslick said, “I’m most delighted that Wes Anderson will kick off the Berlinale Competition again.” Anderson’s last film, The Grand Budapest Hotel, opened the 64th Berlinale in 2014 and won the Silver Bear Grand Jury Prize. This year, Kosslick believes that “[Isle of Dogs] will capture audiences’ hearts with its Wes Anderson charm.”
The story of Isle of Dogs is set in Megasaki City, a conceptual city based off Japanese landscape and culture. Here, all the canine pets are exiled to Trash Island, a vast garbage-dump, and the main character, Atari Kobayashi, sets off alone in search of his bodyguard-dog, Spots. The adventure of Atari, accompanied by a pack of newly made canine friends, promises “an epic journey that will decide the fate and future of the entire Japan’s Prefecture.”
Anderson’s 2009 animated film Fantastic Mr. Fox brought forward a refreshing perspective on animation and storytelling. The film was different, deploying a simple and straightforward approach to plot, its director wistfully blending his own method of filmmaking with Dahl’s style of storytelling. In addition to its cinematic details, the process of creating a stop-motion is labor intensive work process; puppets have to be moved and photographed continually to produce a scene. Thus, the use of stop-motion differentiates both Fantastic Mr. Fox and Isle of Dogs from other animated films.
Like Fantastic Mr. Fox, Anderson’s new film (though rated PG-13) isn’t only for children. Its cinematography and cultural values can easily be loved and appreciated by older groups of watchers. In Isle of Dogs, we explore societal norms and childhood nostalgia. Anderson’s usual quirkiness and odd characters, backed by an all-star cast—from Bill Murray to Scarlett Johansson to Greta Gerwig—have us rest assured that our expectations will be met.
Isle of Dogs will release in U.S. cinemas on March 23rd. Internationally, the film will open in cinemas in April.
You can watch the trailer here.
Ting Ting Chen