Sofia Coppola vs. Wes Anderson: Trailers Compared

Published on December 3rd, 2013 by bchristy. Filed under Film & Movies

Sofia Coppola and Wes Anderson are both regarded as auteur filmmakers: that is, their visual styles and themes are so consistent and evident across their bodies of work that their films are easily identifiable. Although many people are responsible for the making of their films, Coppola and Anderson have such distinct artistic control that their names alone serve as brands, each with their own cinematographic and thematic conventions. The trailers for Anderson films (Moonrise Kingdom, The Royal Tenenbaums, and The Grand Budapest Hotel) and Coppola films (Lost in Translation, The Virgin Suicides, and Somewhere) help shed light on the particular characteristics that make up the filmmakers’ respective styles. In particular, Coppola and Anderson trailers utilize color filters, camera movement, and editing in unique ways.

Both sets of trailers use heavy color filtering. For example, shades of blue saturate all three of the Sofia Coppola trailers, evoking a romantic melancholy characteristic of Coppola’s films. After watching the actual films rather than just the trailers, it becomes evident that she uses the blue to highlight the loneliness of her central characters. Charlotte in Lost In Translation, Cleo in Somewhere, and the Lisbon sisters in The Virgin Suicides all seek to define themselves independently of the oppression around them. Literally surrounding the main characters, the hazy, blue filter mimics their desperation. On the other hand, each of the Wes Anderson trailers has a different set of colors rather than just a uniform blue hue. Each of his trailers was shot with a warming filter and then later corrected to saturate certain colors: faded yellows and teals for Moonrise Kingdom, dark pinks and sepias for The Royal Tenenbaums, and bright pinks and purples for The Grand Budapest Hotel. Anderson sets each of his films in a fantasy world, each with its own set of painstaking visual details. The color palettes unique to each film are one facet of that visual profile. Anderson’s trailers focus on heavily color filtered images to draw viewers into the fantasy.

Each set of trailers has a similar structure. For example, all three of Wes Anderson’s trailers begin with a dialogue scene to highlight the deadpan humor of the rest of the film and then move onto shorter cuts introducing the setting and characters. Coppola’s trailers each open with an establishing shot introducing the setting. These long shots also contribute to the overall theme of loneliness and isolation common in Coppola’s films. In Lost In Translation, the opening view of Tokyo’s flashing lights and neon signs in a foreign language hint at the title’s implied theme of missed connections and lost meaning. Similarly, the trailer for The Virgin Suicides begins with a time-lapse shot of the main characters’ house. The trailer for Somewhere opens with a shot of the sign of the hotel where the main characters live, then cuts to one of the characters walking through a hallway. The long shot of the narrow corridor and out-of-focus figures moving in front of him achieve the same dual purpose as the establishing shots in the other two Coppola films—introducing the setting and hinting at the dreamlike pace of the film as a whole. Interestingly, both of the filmmakers end their trailers with montages. In Moonrise Kingdom and The Grand Budapest Hotel, one ridiculous image appears after another as overdramatic classical music booms in the background. The montage at the end of the trailer for The Royal Tenenbaums is set to British punk rock, but achieves the same effect. The montages bring the trailers to a humorous climax and satisfying ending. In Coppola’s case, the montages provide an appropriate ending as well, but do not have the same humorous quality. The images —Charlotte staring silently out of a car window in Lost In Translation, the arm of a Lisbon sister dangling out of a car with a single cigarette still in her hand in The Virgin Suicides—depict intimate moments in the characters’ lives to form an emotional climax.

Coppola’s and Anderson’s trailers differ greatly in camera positioning and movement. Near the beginning of the trailer for The Grand Budapest Hotel, the camera rapidly zooms in on two people standing on the balcony above. Known as a snap zoom, this technique is a signature in Anderson films. In all three trailers the camera is mounted on a tripod or dolly and moves almost solely in precise, smooth right angles. This exaggerated camera movement deliberately calls attention to itself. The effect is an almost farcical feel, a tongue-in-cheek reminder to viewers that they are watching a movie. In stark contrast, the camera in Coppola’s trailers often moves jerkily as if the camera is handheld. In the shots of the party in Lost In Translation and those of the father and daughter being followed by paparazzi in Somewhere, for example, the camera seems to bob and move behind the characters as if attached to the napes of their necks. This does more than make the viewer empathize with the characters—the viewer is inside the action itself.

Before the name “Wes Anderson” appears in familiar calligraphy and before the name “Sofia Coppola” bursts onto the screen accompanied by a blaring pop-rock song, the viewer can already identify the filmmaker. In fact, Wes Anderson previews are so consistent that Saturday Night Live recently parodied his technique in a fake trailer called The Midnight Coterie of Sinister Intruders. However, it is important to note that the methods employed by Coppola and Anderson have a purpose beyond creating a personal brand. Anderson’s carefully curated color schemes, contrived camera movements, and editing techniques reflect the idiosyncrasies of his characters, who are often outsiders in society. The romantic sense of melancholy created by Coppola’s use of color and cinematography emphasizes the dreamy introspection of her characters and allows audiences to project their own feelings of loneliness onto the film. In both cases, though, the trailers are effective examples of the way technical forms translate to theme.

Moonrise Kingdom: httpv://youtu.be/7N8wkVA4_8s

The Grand Budapest Hotel

The Royal Tenenbaums

The Virgin Suicides: httpv://youtu.be/fbz4-du3Ayg

Lost In Translation

Somewhere

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