Moonrise Kingdom: Children Tale (Part One)

“Moonrise Kingdom,” directed by Wes Anderson, is this year’s opening night of the Cannes Film Fest. Focus Features releases the film May 25, 2012.

The title references the cove that the two kids run away to. It has the technical name of Mile 3.25 Tidal Inlet on the map, but for them it’s a secret, magical place, so they re-name it: Moonrise Kingdom.”

Wes Anderson collaborated with his fellow filmmaker Roman Coppola in writing the script for “Moonrise Kingdom,” marking the second time that the two have scripted Anderson’s ideas into the road map of a movie, following “The Darjeeling Limited” (2007).

Bob Balaban notes that he was struck by how “Wes makes movies according to his own particular sensibilities. His is not just a talented mind; it is an organized and kind one. He makes movies like nobody else, and he’s not trying to do it to be different; he’s doing it because that’s who he is.”

What is evident to any and all working with Anderson is how precise his directing style is; he knows exactly what he wants, and how he will proceed to get it, before arriving on set each day. This, however, only makes him relish the process even more; he exhibits a sense of pure joy through his direction. Actors and crew alike are invited to share in, and contribute to, his vision.

“He has a firm hand, yet things are very relaxed on the set,” reports Balaban. “Actors love him. He’ll let you alone if things are going well; if he has something to talk to you about, he’ll be very articulate.”

“As a writer, a producer, and the director, Wes is involved in every element of the film, from clothing design to casting,” adds Dawson. “All of it contributes to the world that he wants to create.”

Anderson’s enthusiasm spreads to cast and artisans, many of whom will collaborate with him on more than one project. As one such returnee, Dawson notes, “He wants the movie to be an adventure for all the people involved in making it, whether it’s getting on a train in India or traveling on a boat in the Mediterranean. Making this movie definitely lived up to that tradition.

“He is always trying to evolve as a director, trying new things and learning from his experiences on previous movies.”

“Wes cares about the process,” says set decorator Kris Moran. “But he also cares about everybody around him, about the on-set environment; it brings out the best in you. When you’re making a movie, that’s a creative place you want to be in.”

Even when calling for multiple takes to get a scene exactly the way he’s envisioned it, Anderson remains calm and won’t press to “make the day.” This would serve him particularly well on Moonrise Kingdom since key members of the cast, and most of the extras, were children.

Dealing with Children

“Wes deals with children so well–in much the same way that Steven Spielberg does. He’s encouraging to them,” observes Balaban.

Anderson was able to relate to the youngsters in part because his films combine a grown-up seriousness with pure make-believe; Moonrise Kingdom directly accesses children’s worlds of secrets and the convergence of magical moments one associates with youthful summers.

“Wes had this concept for some time,” reveals Coppola. “He had the world and the characters and this feeling, and we spent some time together discussing it. We discovered a banter, and a manner of inquiry, between the two of us that seemed to gel and unlock all these ideas. After we had engaged in that dialogue, the writing process happened very quickly. It’s always mysterious how that all happens.

“My role in writing was to draw out some of the ideas and to help define them. When you have a sounding board, it helps unlock things. That was sort of my main function; sounding board, shaper, editor.”

Together, Anderson and Coppola created a rich tapestry of colorful characters with overlapping connections that draw us into the realm of the movie’s island community, New Penzance. The community is a richly realized place populated by rounded and complex denizens.

Accordingly, actors were captivated by the story immediately. “It takes you into a completely new world from the first page,” says Tilda Swinton. “A world that is as beautifully designed and completely conceived as this one is always going to be a thrill in cinema.”

Murray, who also appeared in The Darjeeling Limited, adds, “It’s a really fine script. There is an electricity that moves through it; Roman and Wes are really wonderful together.”