In watching Wes Anderson’s short film, Bottle Rocket, it was interesting to see how it related to the many feature films he would go on to make, as well as how it stood on its own as a short film. Several things stood out as very ‘Wes Anderson’ like, even this early on in his career. Aesthetically, the cinematography, framing, and composition was very similar to his feature work, specifically through symmetrical frames, tracking shots of characters, the strong patterns of things like the wallpaper and the many close ups of objects, like toys and coins. Bottle Rocket also suggested a lot of what Anderson would be interested in thematically throughout his filmography. Some of these themes include dysfunctional families – suggested through Anthony’s conflicted robbing of his own home, and present in countless other Anderson films, perhaps most notably in The Royal Tenenbaums. Another idea that Anderson seems to be interested in is chosen families, as friends, Anthony and Dignan, take on more of a brotherly relationship in the way they seem to not really get along particularly well (possibly heightened by the fact that Luke and Owen are in fact brothers), but are stuck with each other and find some kind of comfortability. This is taken further in films like Rushmore and The Grand Budapest Hotel, where father-son-like relationships are formed between unrelated characters.
Another of Wes Anderson’s films that I was reminded of when watching Bottle Rocket is his debut feature that followed – Bottle Rocket. This film largely follows the story and themes set out in the short film, but also extends on them. The characters of Anthony and Dignan are much explicitly deeper, as is their relationship, and more of the robbery process is shown. While I do find the translation from short to feature to be a success, I still find the short film to be the stronger of the two. I find this idea of turning a short film into a feature interesting. Some of the strong examples I can think of include Mary Last Seen/Martha Marcy May Marlene, and Monster/The Babadook. While these differ the Bottle Rocket example, in that the shorts were made with the intention of getting a feature funded, I still find them to be interesting and ultimately successful. Mary Last Seen was a short film directed by Sean Durkin, with the hope of getting the feature, Martha Marcy May Marlene, funded. Having seen the feature before the short, it is difficult to be completely objective on the short’s ability to stand alone, but I do feel that it does. Rather than just filming a shortened version of Martha Marcy May Marlene, they chose to tell a separate story about the same cult that appears in the feature. This separation is ultimately what makes it so strong, as it communicates a very disturbing tone (rather than plot) that would carry across into the feature. However, I do feel that the short film is made far more worthwhile after seeing the feature film. The idea of making a short with a future feature in mind is not exactly how I’d like to go about the process of finding ideas for short films though, particularly in this course.