BIBLIOGRAPHIC ESSAYThomas, Deborah J. “Framing the ‘Melancomic’: Character, Aesthetics and Affect in Wes Anderson’s Rushmore.” New Review of Film and Television Studies, vol. 10, no. 1, 2012.When researching as to why ‘Wes Anderson’s aesthetic is charming but his stories so melancholy?’, I came across Deborah Thomas’ essay where she uses the term ‘melancomic’ in relation to Rushmore, a film Anderson made in 1998. The use of this term fascinated me because it made me realise that one reason I enjoy his films so much, was partly to do with the relationship between their cheerful aesthetic allure against themes and tones of dejection. Within his films I feel a certain tone of sadness, which is gently explored throughout his narratives and characters, however there are also moments of intense grief or sudden conflict which burst into the films stories. I enjoy seeing characters breaking any illusion of conformity and order which comes from his calculated aesthetic. What I like about Thomas’ essay is that it made me think more deeply about what effect contrasting the relationship between aesthetic and narrative has on the audience’s perception of the film. Does exploring themes such as sadness or conflict within a diegesis which is very organised change the way in which the audience feels about the sadness? Thomas suggests the result of this contrast, is where the tone of the ‘melancomic’ is felt. She indicates it creates a ‘weird awkwardness’, which creates a world which is not too unrecognisable from our own for Anderson’s self-deprecating characters to explore their own journeys of emotions, within the a place which initially displays beauty and order. It allowed me to think of questions such as why ‘melancomic’ is a tone which is appropriated by audiences. I began thinking about how often I hear people portray their attitude or emotions in a way which comes across as quite blase, casually using sarcasm to communicate their feelings in a way which is true, but said in an ironic or sarcastic way, distanced through the humour of double meanings. Thomas suggests that it is developments in the way we communicate with each other which leads to contemporary film styles such as ‘smart films’ which are “particularly attached to the trope of irony” being enjoyed.Kagan, Norman. The Cinema of Stanley Kubrick. The Continuum Publishing Company, New York, 1994.After establishing that I was interested in investigating why Kubrick and Anderson juxtapose aesthetic with tone, I wanted to read analysis and criticisms of Kubrick’s work so that I could begin validating concepts and connections I was making with more confidence. I chose to use The Cinema of Stanley Kubrick as it has a good overview his work ranging from the very beginning of his career starting in Look magazine as a photographer, right to Full Metal Jacket (1987) discussing important parts in each of the films and offering critical analysis alongside explanations of the development of the narrative. I enjoyed reading this book, my only criticism that there was a lot of focus on describing the main plots of the films. However, in a chapter analysing A Clockwork Orange (1971) Kagan discusses how Kubrick plays with his audience’s perception of the films message saying firstly ACO could be seen as a social satire, secondly as “a fairytale of retribution” or lastly as a “psychological myth” (p. 181) a story constructed around truths and human nature. Kagan discusses how combing these theories of the film creates a “three-fold manner” of meaning about social structure, violence and political authority. This then creates an overarching way of understanding not only the society in which the characters in the film live, but also how we do and what effect having societal structures has on individuals who are born into a society we have constructed “the fault is in the very imperfect nature of man himself” (p. 181). What this shows me is the importance of thinking about what a director means when presenting semiotics for an audience to decode, and considering that there may be more than one answer. This was an important moment for me as I realised that decoding meaning when there is more than one option was an important aspect of obtaining certain messages from the film.. Browning, Mark. Wes Anderson: Why His Movies Matter (Modern Filmmakers). Praeger, 2011. I wanted to read this as initially I thought this book would provide good insight into some technicalities and theories behind Wes Anderson’s films, suggesting reasoning behind his choices as a director, but I was disappointed with it. Browning suggests some good ideas about why he thinks Anderson has made certain cinematic choices, however his interpretive ideas are written with an element of uncertainty about them. From what I gathered from the title of the book, Browning would be appreciating Anderson by exploring every inch of detailed relevance and meaning that can be found. Sadly, sometimes I felt as if he didn’t actually like his films, making mistakes such as calling Mr. Fox in Fantastic Mr Fox (2009) ‘Wolf’, or the character Peter from The Darjeeling Limited (2007) as ‘Paul’ which made me very confused initially, but then I realised there were consistent errors, making me question his knowledge on the films or of Anderson at all. Browning makes a lot of mistakes and often offers little explanations of his ideas, quickly jumping from idea to idea. I will not be using this book as guide to adding depth to knowledge about Anderson, however I would like to investigate into one idea concerning how the characters in The Royal Tenenbaums (2009) each have their own coping mechanisms which they use “as a reaction to society” (p. 38) but I would argue that they may, however it is mainly to protect themselves from the world outside their family unit. There are other points like this that could have been explored further by Browning, but I will consider them to see if I can develop this into a valid point with evidence.Ryan, Michael, and Douglas Kellner. Camera Politica: the Politics and Ideology of Contemporary Hollywood Film. Indiana Univ. Press, 2007. I came to this book next because I wanted improve my knowledge of film theory with particular reference to American politics. I wanted to learn more about how major events in American history and politics influenced what people watched within mainstream cinema, and how contemporary cinema may have offered alternative ideas to the ones offered by people in power. I picked Camera Politica because it explores the relationship between film and a good range of events that had an effect society in Hollywood around 1967 to the mid-eighties. This period is particularly interesting to me because if this was also a “time characterised by a major swing in dominant social movements from Left to Right” (p. xi). This suggests this period was a time when war and conflict meant that politicians wanted to strengthen the country’s sense of patriotism, and one way they may have done this would have been through the medium of cinema. Within this book there is a chapter that focuses on ‘Vietnam and the New Militarism’, discussing how there was tensions between what was suggested about war, soldiers and the ‘enemy’ in popular films such as Rambo (1982) and alternative (more harrowing) truths presented in films such as Full Metal Jacket (1987) “you’d better flush out your head, new guy. This isn’t about freedom; this is a slaughter”.This book allowed me to ask questions about how contemporary cinema is one way alternate ideas can be presented, and how important it is especially when dealing with history that unorthodox ideas are represented and explored through mediums such as film. It meant that I could begin thinking about what Kubrick’s films such as FML can suggest about conflict, directly challenging patriotic messages implied in other cinema. From here I can begin researching what his adaption of A Clockwork Orange (1972) offers conceptually, as it is a film which raises multiple moral and ethical debates.Kornhaber, Donna. Wes Anderson. Marston Book Services Ltd, Oxfordshire 2017.Donna Kornhaber’s book is perhaps the most recent of studies about Wes Anderson, coming out last year in 2017. I read this book as, like Deborah Thomas, she discusses the relationship between an aesthetic identity with the films narrative, but she also theories about the meaning behind the character’s collectiveness inside the Andersonian worlds.Interestingly Kornhaber discusses the significance of the “visual and thematic attention on the nature of their Andersons and his characters collections”, adding she believes “the impulse to collect is always a response to trauma” (p. 9). I found this statement incredibly fascinating, as it made me make connections between how contrasting aesthetics with tone can be used as a tool or platform to explore themes which are difficult, such as conflict. Both Kubrick and Anderson’s narratives are often violent and dark, dealing with themes such as suicide, depression, mania and isolation however they are also presented through diegesis which consist of  “brightly coloured and well ordered images” (p.7). I began thinking about whether Anderson or Kubrick’s organised aesthetic was a way of zoning in and presenting the conflict within the narrative, or whether it was an attempt to make sense of it.Ultimately this book added depth to Thomas ideas about combining attractive aesthetics with sinister narratives, but instead of ‘melancomic’ Kornhaber calls the effect of this a sense of “traumatized melancholy” (p. 6). I realised that both Kubrick and Anderson’s combination of geometric, idiosyncratic, organised aesthetics against dark themes of conflict, chaos can present an initially confusing array of meaning, but it is a way to present messages and ideas within their films that invites the audience to scratch beneath the surface, work out the puzzle and find their own meaning from the film. And that could be what audiences enjoy so much about their films, that amongst the chaos there is an order, or a meaning which can be decoded and solved like a puzzle, and that what the audiences discover is unique to themselves.Word count: 1500


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