Hi. I’m Michael. This is Lessons from the Screenplay. Some people consider Wes Anderson a genius,
subverting conventional film language while creating his own dialect. Others consider his films artfulness mistaken
for art, devoid of meaning. While I am a fan of most Wes Anderson films,
I think Moonrise Kingdom is the best example of story matching style. The color palette and storybook-like presentation
create a world similar to the fantasy novels Suzy carries with her. But today I want to glimpse past his visual
style and look at other elements. To examine how the screenplay sets the stage
for the story, And how it uses details to create the fantastical
and dangerous world of Moonrise Kingdom. We all know what a Wes Anderson movie looks
like, but what does a Wes Anderson screenplay look like? Here are a few things I thought were
noteworthy. In the scene headers, Anderson and co-writer
Roman Coppola chose to use a second period instead of the traditional dash. When there is information relevant to the
story world, but not inherently obvious in the screenplay, it is noted in parentheses. There are very few specific mentions of the
camera. The narrator directly address it. Insert shots are noted. Split-screen is described. Any other camera visuals are implied by the
mention of elements in the foreground or background. Lastly, many of the visual details Anderson
is known for can be found in the screenplay as well. The action lines note specific decorations,
placements of objects, and costume details. But besides painting a picture for the reader,
what do these details actually add to the narrative? From the lining of the tent, to the color
of the paper on the bulletin board, the screenplay is full of detailed descriptions of the world. But what I found most interesting were the
details describing the lives of the characters. Each character is doing something else when
we meet them, going about their normal routines before getting roped-in to the story. This is true not only of the main characters,
but of the smaller ones, like Becky the switchboard operator. “A young woman with her hair in a bun sits
at an operator’s switchboard eating a sandwich wrapped in wax-paper.” “She is Becky.” So why is Becky eating a sandwich? I have no idea. Other than it sets up an association with
her and food, which comes in to play again in a later scene: “Becky opens a tin of home-made lemon bars. Captain Sharp declines one.” “Scout Master Ward tries one.” “He looks completely enchanted.” Becky could have simply been a generic switchboard
operator. But instead she’s given these tiny moments
that hint at her life outside her function in the story. These cookie-sharing moments even begin a
love story between her and Scout Master Ward that happens in the very, very background
of the movie. —”You?”
—”Are you alright?” “Of course I am.” This is a small, quirky thing. But the accumulation of all these tiny details
helps fill out the world and make it feel believable. Lived-in. Like it existed before the movie began and
will persist after it ends. And this is important because it makes the
audience feel like the characters’ actions will have repercussions on the world. That their choices matter. These details also help the audience become
familiar with the setting of the film. As Screenwriter William Goldman wrote in his
book, “Adventures in the Screen Trade”: “Every movie sets it’s own special reality.” “And once those limits are established, they
may not be broken without the risk of fragmenting…” “…the entire picture.” This is why it’s necessary to set the stage
for your story. The first fifteen pages of the film are dedicated
to setting the stage. The narrator gives us a tour of the island,
and foreshadows the coming storm, establishing the time frame of the story. “We are on the far edge of Black Beacon
Sound…” “…famous for the ferocious and well-documented
storm which will strike from the east…” “…on the fifth of September — in three
day’s time.” We meet the Khaki scouts and see their potential
for violence as they search for Sam while carrying very large, very dangerous weapons. “What if he resists?” “Who?” “Shakusky. Are we allowed to use force on him?” “No, you’re not. This is a non-violent rescue operation.” By the time Suzy and Sam meet in the field
on page seventeen, we know the cast of characters, the scope of the world, and the threats that
are coming their way. These threats are realized in my favorite
example of establishing the rules of the world, when Suzy and Sam encounter the Khaki Scouts. “You’re doomed, Shakusky.” Their fight is not without casualties. One of the scouts is stabbed by Suzy… “Oh no!” …and the dog is killed. Obviously, I’m sad the dog dies, but
it raises the stakes for the world. If the film is willing to kill the dog, it
removes a layer of safety. This is an attribute of Moonrise Kingdom that
Wes Anderson is very conscious of. “Owen and I used to always discuss whether or not—
‘can anyone die in our movies?'” “Is it conceivable that someone can die?” “I think this movie, I think, is one of the ones
where they could die.” This especially serves the final act of the
film when the storm hits. In the last moments when Suzy and Sam climb
to the roof to try to escape, there is a real sense of danger. This is important because their willingness
to die for their love is only impactful if you think they could actually die. This demonstrates the importance of establishing
the boundaries of what can and can’t happen in your story. The last thing I want to talk about is how
the world of Moonrise Kingdom is presented to the audience. In short, the style. In their book “Notes on Directing,” Frank
Hauser and Russell Reich write: “Elements of style are best applied with
intention, purpose, and meaning…” “…not as ends in themselves.” The elements of Wes Anderson’s style are well-documented, but what is their purpose? Most films want you to disappear into the
narrative and forget that you’re watching a movie. They use conventional cinematic language that
doesn’t draw attention to itself. Wes Anderson is the complete opposite. From a narrator who addresses the audience
and interacts with the camera… …to Suzy’s books updating the audience on where they are in the story… “Part Two” …the style of Moonrise Kingdom is a constant
reminder you are watching a movie. Perhaps the most distancing element of the
style is the dialogue. The characters are very direct, sometimes
to the point of being harsh. “I have to do better.” “For everybody.” “Except me.” “Except you.” They almost never lie, instead speaking aloud
precisely what they’re thinking or feeling. “I hope the roof flies off and I get sucked
up into space.” “You’ll be better off without me.” So the dialogue of Moonrise Kingdom shirks
realism in pursuit of something else. But what? On one hand, the dialogue provides the audience
with direct access to the thoughts and feelings of the characters. A connection. But on the other hand, the lines are so plain
and performed with such little affect, that hardly any emotional meaning is conveyed in
the delivery. A distance. This creates a dissonance, where the audience
is exposed to intense emotions but also held at arm’s length, unable to be fully immersed in the experience. Rather than having the meaning delivered to
us, we the audience have to actively engage and discern the emotional life of the characters
ourselves. “I’ll be out back.” “I’m going to find a tree to chop down.” This Brechtian approach to storytelling can
make Wes Anderson’s films more of an intellectual exercise than escapist entertainment. But it’s also why I think his style supports the theme and story of Moonrise Kingdom particularly well. Because Suzy and Sam are trying understand
their world too. They’re both troubled children who have
finally found a person and a place that makes them happy, but all the adults are trying to keep them
apart. “We’re in love.” “We just want to be together.” “What’s wrong with that?” The presentation of the story mimics the innocent
earnestness of childhood clashing with the emotional barriers we construct in adulthood. All while telling the story of two kids who
are undergoing the frustrating transition from one to the other. In Moonrise Kingdom, the beach that Suzy and
Sam claim as their own is wiped off the map during the storm. For me, this is a metaphor for the end of
childhood. A time of intense emotion and innocence that
must be destroyed in order to grow up. But this film, both because of the content
of the story and the way it’s told, briefly recreates this bittersweet period of transition. It’s a piece of art that lets me return
to Moonrise Kingdom whenever I want. Let me show you my end-card graphic. This is the subscribe button. You click this if you want more videos on
great screenplays. Here’s a link to my Patreon. This is if you want to support the channel
and help me make more videos. Here you can watch my previous videos. There are several. Finally, down here is social media information. This is if you want to say “hi.” I hope you enjoyed my video on Moonrise Kingdom. Which of Wes Anderson’s films is your favorite? Let me know in the comments below. And thank you for watching.

Author Since: Mar 11, 2019

  1. the use of the music from Moonrise Kingdom in the background plus the analysis of childhood made me tear up a little bit

  2. Great video. I loved Moonrise Kingdom. I'm glad Wes Anderson's films stand alone from other films. "Isle of Dogs" was another excellent film. I think Wes Anderson is a genius. He creates worlds of his own, yet, I always find a way to relate to them and/or enjoy them. I appreciate his films for their individuality. I think he represents the epitome of a great film maker. He doesn't sacrifice his voice for the sake of ticket sales. Personally, I'm looking forward to the next Wes Anderson film.

  3. Very nicely and intelligently done. Solild insights.

    I wouldn't have watched the movie but for stumbling upon this analysis. I wanted to see it before watching this.

    Thanks!

  4. +Lessons: Have you done a video on any of Wm. Goldman's screenplays?

    My favorite is one of his early ones, if not his first: "Harper."

  5. No matter how hard i try, i can never watch this movie. I love Wes and i love murray and i love the plot and i love the look and the setting but it doesn't want me to watch it. I swear to god of seen fantastic mister fox 50 times but whenever i get a hold of this film i lose it somehowe Please send one copy of moonrise Kingodm to me please anyone

  6. This movir gets me every time i watch it. Even when i see things related to it it pulls on my hear strings in a way nothing else ever has.

  7. when someone can make you remember a shot. when Suzie looks at Sam as a raven, vs when Suzie looks at Sam in the tent. shows how she has been saved from death (common metaphor in a raven) by sam. these sorts of things I wouldn't pick out in a Nolan movie. Wes Anderson is untouchable. he is my favourite for sure. and although his movies use similar techniques, is inconsistent casts makes each one so different from the last. since when have animations been cinematic genius. uncomparable in so many respects…

  8. I enjoy his movies but, the Dialoge has always struck me as stale and it always takes me out of the movie. I’m always hoping that they’ll have a long intellectual conversation that develops the themes. And yet, I’m always met with Kurt talks that feel so awkward. Furthermore, all of Wes Anderson’s characters feel the same.

  9. Is it just me or is Moonrise Kingdom just like Peter Pan? Suzy is Wendy Darling, Suzy's brothers are John and Michael, Sam is Peter Pan (they're also both orphans) Captain Sharp is Captain Hook, the khaki scouts are the lost boys, Suzy's parents are Wendy's parents, the girls at Suzy's church are the mermaids, Scout Master Ward is Mr. Smee, and the scouts from other troops are the indians.. Both feature two kids who run away from home to an island and never want to grow up.

  10. I think Rushmore is my favorite now I have to go watch the others so that probably will change. But they are all looking so cool and unique! Thank you for the immersive look at moonrise kingdom!

  11. Thank you for making me realize why Moonrise Kingdom is my favorite Wes Anderson film…The story and characters really do better match his style

  12. Loved this, really enjoy so much of your essays…but this was quite beautiful and evocative of my experience with Moonrise. There can’t be a favorite Wes Anderson film, there can only be the one I’m watching now.

  13. Every time I see a LFTS video, I'm just regretting that I don't have any money to give.
    But when I do, if I do, LFTS is getting a few bucks cuz this s*** is fantastic.
    Seriously, LFTS is one of the best screenplay analysis around, and my other big channels, like Wisecrack and Now You See It are great, but they are incomplete without the contributions of LFTS.
    LFTS is a bit of creative help that is simply wonderful in it's literal sense. I wonder about how I could make a better piece because of channels like this.

  14. okay but the composition of this video was so spot on and really lovely, the way you sort of — you know, whimsical elements of the film and just amazing lines you say. the corkboard that held up pieces of wes anderson's screenplay, the very end when you said a piece of art that always lets you go back to moonrise kingdom– as the camera pans to the in-film moonrise kingdom painting. that part especially really got me, it really drove home your point about it being a film about a universal theme we all may have experienced: the dissonance of youth to growing up. that one line (well, not just that one line. that one line plus the rest of the video) somehow made me realize how moonrise kingdom is like a mirror for a lot of the people who watch it, or are fans of it. it's like wes anderson has created a moonrise kingdom for us to return to by watching this film, if that makes sense?

    and i think that's great.

  15. That's the idea… You show that they can die… Then you show that even tho you save them … they can die a little bit after… Then you show that they are actually survive… And there comes the tears of joy.

  16. A truly superb analysis of a movie that holds a special place in my heart, as much of the film was shot at the camp that was my first job! 6:32 was where I worked, and seeing it in film, paralleling the same journey in discovering that people exist who will accept you for your quirkiness, is a gift I can't thank Wes Anderson enough for! Thank you for reminding me of how much I appreciate this film!

  17. Thank you for this video , so good and interesting !
    I’m very much attached to this movie and you helped me understand some things I couldn’t put my finger on 😉

  18. This IS my favourite movie. I fell in love with it because of the way it is narrated, the compositions, the colours, the details as you said makes us feel that the world was there before us watching it and after watching it.

  19. Loved this video! Moonrise Kingdom is his best film in my opinion (even if Royal Tenenbaums will always hold the most special place in my heart) and this video did a lot to illuminate what makes it so special

  20. If anyone else here adores this film I'd highly recommend The End Of The F***ing World. It's an english TV series with a brilliant zany/wes anderson-y sense of humour (even some of the same stylistic elements too) on Netflix. It also happens to be about two rebellious teens who run away from their shitty lives to be together while a group of people frantically search for them.