Adolescent Love and Rebellion Alive in Moonrise Kingdom

Victor Dos Santos, Assistant A&E Editor

Wes Anderson’s latest film, Moonrise Kingdom, may well be the epitome of all masterpieces. This film is a composite of shots designed to stylistically represent an era of rebellion.

Moonrise Kingdom is set in the 1960s on an isolated island off the coast of Rhode Island. It centers on two kids, Sam (Jared Gilman) and Suzy (Kara Hayward), who run away from their respective “regimes” (Sam from his khaki scout troupe, and Suzy from her parents and siblings) to be with each other. The two run away to the far end of the island to create a kingdom of their own where they are in charge, and they are not even restricted by the rules of traditional time-keeping.

All Wes Anderson films tell stories that reflect a recurring theme. Moonrise Kingdom is all about rebelling against conformity, hence its 60s setting, why the kids run away from adult figures, and why they are set on an isolated island. Top-tier Hollywood actors Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Bruce Willis and Edward Norton play the film’s adult characters whose lives tie into this theme. McDormand and Murray play Suzy’s parents, characters who are in a marriage that they acknowledge is crumbling. Yet, as much as they both want to separate, the fact that they do not also ties in the theme of the desire to rebel. The island on which they live is possibly symbolic of this feeling of constraint of the parents, and what is keeping them from leaving one another. In other words, marriage is the “regime” under which they fall.

Several other characters fall under different “regimes.” Bruce Willis plays a stereotypical police officer, destined to be alone and only do his job, as his character blatantly states. Edward Norton’s character is a scout master, under the “regime” of the khaki scout troupe.

Anderson tells a story with this theme and with creative direction that consists of shots reminiscent of still portraits. Shots like these are used to tell everything there is to know about a character. It is in this way that Anderson embraces the familiar phrase, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” It is fascinating to see how much precision and detail was put into making each shot as beautiful as it was. He also makes the film visually appealing through the juxtaposition of surreal and realistic imagery. So, if for some strange reason you happen to lose interest in the story, the imaginative cinematography will still captivate you.

Anderson co-wrote the film with Roman Coppola, who collaborated on previous Anderson films such as The Darjeeling Limited, and together the two have written a film that delivers a message that says to live your life as much as you can before you eventually fall under your own respective “regime”. That “regime” might be marriage, a demanding career, or something else. While it is a cynical message, it is beautifully told through this strikingly original story, creative direction, and amazing performances from its talented leads.