Home » “The Royal Tenenbaums” at 20: When Wes Anderson Imagined New York

“The Royal Tenenbaums” at 20: When Wes Anderson Imagined New York

by Stewart Cole

Wes Anderson’s great comedy-drama “The Tenenbaum Kings,Released 20 years ago this month, it tells the story of a family of famous genius children, the frustrations and nerves that define their lives as adults and the estranged father whose (pretend) illness brings them back together, down from a roof in Upper Manhattan. It is Anderson’s only film to date, shot entirely in and around New York City, his only entry into Gotham’s cinematic rule, which was so formative for his youth in the Southwest.

“I wanted to live in New York when I was young,” said Houston resident Anderson. confessed in The New York Daily News in 2012. “So many books, plays, and movies that I love have taken place in New York. “It really gave me an idea of ​​the city before I even moved here.”

But this wording – “an idea of ​​the city” – he says. Anderson was not looking for the authenticity and realism of a local New Yorker (a Spike Lee or Martin Scorsese, for example). In fact, although “The Royal Tenenbaums” was filmed on the spot, its settings are unrecognizable and the parts it controls by name let the Gothamites scratch their heads. Most of the action takes place in the dilapidated Tenenbaum house on Archer Avenue, although daughter Margot has “a private studio in Mockingbird Heights” and Patriarch Royal has spent the last few decades at the Lindbergh Palace Hotel. A minor character teaches at Brooks College. Others travel on the Green Line Bus or the 22nd Avenue Express. Reference is made to the “public archives of the city”, “Maddox Hill Cemetery”, “Little Tokyo”, “Kobe General Hospital”, “the Valenzuela Bridge” and, a real achievement of the city’s ingenuity, the 375th St. Υ. “

The result is a New York that blurs events and fiction, an imaginary city vision that reflects less the realities of urban life than the imaginary concepts that are ingrained in Anderson’s sensitivity. Many observers have noticed the similarities between the Tenenbaum offspring and the Glass family of JD Salinger’s short fiction – many of which first appeared in The New Yorker, a post whose tired, busy, detailed covers do not seem to affect the idiosyncrasy at all. Anderson visual style. His most recent film, “The French Dispatch”, gets the influence even more, unobtrusive as a New Yorker magazine issue.) Other literary influences from the city abound, including its colorful personalities. AJ my love‘s profile, his tense family dynamics Short stories by John Cheever, and Kay Thompson’s hotel life Books “Eloise”.. In a way, “The Royal Tenenbaums” is the opposite of many New York films of the 1930s and 1940s – when on-the-spot photography was so rare and filmmaking so concentrated in Hollywood that former New York writers and designers recreated an idealized , Gotham’s fantastic vision in backlots and soundstage clear across the country.

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