We find post-modern traits in the works of many of today’s filmmakers such as Quentin Tarantino, David Lynch, and the great, oh powerful god that is, Joss Whedon. Another filmmaker to be included in this category is Wes Anderson. His quirky style of filmmaking, which seems to follow him no matter how hard he tries to get away from it, follows him in Moonrise Kingdom. Though masked as a coming of age movie, the film hones into all the usual bright colours, awkward personalities, face-directly-on-camera medium shots, and one word dialogues that make a Wes Anderson movie a Wes Anderson movie. His sense of irony and campiness definitely fits him into this post-modern category (though, I think calling anything “Post” is unnecessary. Why not just come up with a more original name? The genre is original enough. The people that are part of the genre could easily come up with a better name in seconds, especially given the oceans of creativity that these guys and gals possess. The term is also incredibly pessimistic, “oh hey, we think what you modern guys are doing is dumb, so we’re gonna take your thing and flip it on it’s head. HA HA.” Instead of what probably really happened which was a bunch of nerds who like a bunch of different nerdy stuff wanted to bring all that stuff together and create a giant community of nerdiness and awesome – and maybe include a social statement or two, whilst still making sure the focal point was on something nerdy, like Captain America or slaying Vampires. But of coarse, the academics couldn’t figure out all this nerd, so they labeled it something dumb like “post-modern.” But I digress…) Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom contains all these levels of ‘nerd,’ sorry, Post-Modernism, through:
- hyperealistic sets and costumes that look like paintings from the 1960’s
- a huge sense ironic self-awareness to it’s ridiculousness, such as the kids being pen pals, running away from home, their rescue team being a bunch of campers, and a deadbeat cop who’s in love with the run away girl’s mother. I mean, common, that’s just funny.
- And greatly blurring many genres such as coming of age (the main plot), dark humour (the woodland fight between the girl and campers), thriller (the Noah’s ark finale), military (the boy’s camp), and rural drama (with it being a small town and all.)
To relate the ideals brought up by Žižeck, Moonrise Kingdom mainly looks at
realism and the nuclear family. Realism is challenged by the ridiculous characters and plot events, such as the Sam and Suzy speaking and acting as if they were in their 40s, the social services woman who wants to bring Sam back for electro-shock therapy, the cop who is essentially homeless, and the campers who could easily have been in Full Metal Jacket. The idea of a Nuclear Family is seen 3 ways. The first is Suzy’s family, your standard 1960’s mom, pop, and 4 kids, all snug in their house listening to classical music. The kids do what their told, and everyone is happy. Except, not everyone was happy. Suzy ran away partial because of this and the mother was sleeping with the homeless cop. The second challenge to the nuclear family can be seen with Sam and his newly legal guardian, Captain Duffy, at the end of the film. They live in a run down trailer, they basically mind their own business between each other, and both are basically using each other to save themselves from the hardships of their current lives. For Sam, it’s the orphanage, for Duffy it’s his lonesome. The final ‘family,’ could be seen as the Boy scouts camp. Lead by Scout Master Randy, who, let’s face it, isn’t really the father figure they are looking for, the camp tries it’s hardest to feel like a true family. The boys look out for each other, they care about each other, and they’ll go to great ends to save the one another from harm. Actually, the camp is probably the closest to the standard concept of the Nuclear Family in this regard, though this could easily be over looked due to it being a boy scout camp and not a “perfect family” with Mom, Pop, and 4 joy filled kids, 2 boys, 2 girls.
In all, Moonrise Kingdom’s captures the perfect essence of celebration for past and present styles (nerding out) to fit it perfectly in the category of Post-Modernism.