Cinema and Media Studies Wes Anderson
Peter Kunze
  • LAST MODIFIED: 23 March 2022
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199791286-0353


Raised in Houston and educated at the University of Texas at Austin, Wes Anderson (b. 1969) is an incredibly eclectic filmmaker whose work demonstrates a range of US and international influences, including global art cinema, 1960s British rock music, the films of the Hollywood Renaissance, television animation, even children’s literature. In 1992 he made his first movie, a short film entitled Bottle Rocket. He expanded it four years later into a film of the same name with his college classmate and frequent collaborator Owen Wilson. His sophomore effort, Rushmore, was co-produced by Anderson’s own American Empirical Pictures and Disney’s Touchstone Pictures, and it established Anderson as a leading “Indiewood” filmmaker. His distinctive style—meticulously controlled mise-en-scène, deadpan humor, flat affect, distinctive color palettes—has made his work almost instantly recognizable and widely imitated. So, too, have his themes: traumatic loss and the resulting grief, the tenuous distinction between childhood and adulthood, illicit desire and failed romances, fractured families and the alternative configurations that emerge in their wake. Wes Anderson stands as one of the most influential writer-directors working today, and his oeuvre has already inspired a robust—and growing—body of film scholarship and criticism. The bibliography presents seven interrelated bodies of work on Anderson’s scholarship to map out the major interventions thus far.

General Overviews

This section details both popular and academic surveys of Anderson’s work. Browning 2011 was the first scholarly monograph, followed by Dilley 2017, which covered Anderson’s career through The Grand Budapest Hotel. Kunze 2014 was the first edited collection, bookended by special issues of academic journals edited by Warren Buckland and Donna Kornhaber (see Buckland 2012, cited under Style and Authorship, and Kornhaber 2018). Seitz 2013 offers extended interviews with the director alongside extensive illustrations and photographs. Collectively, these works provide an overview of the writer-director’s career and the general approaches taken to interpreting and criticizing it.

  • Browning, Mark. Wes Anderson: Why His Movies Matter. Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger, 2011.

    The first monograph on Anderson’s work; Browning’s accessible introduction covers major influences, themes, and stylistic choices in the director’s first six films.

  • Dilley, Whitney Crothers. The Cinema of Wes Anderson: Bringing Nostalgia to Life. New York: Wallflower, 2017.

    DOI: 10.7312/dill18068

    Distilling many of the major interviews with and scholarship on Anderson, Dilley’s volume is a user-friendly overview of his work through The Grand Budapest Hotel.

  • Kornhaber, Donna. “Wes Anderson, Austin Auteur.” Texas Studies in Literature and Language 60.2 (2018): 125–128.

    DOI: 10.7560/TSLL60201

    In the brief introduction to her special issue of Texas Studies in Literature and Language on the director, Kornhaber reflects on Anderson as a Texas filmmaker who studied and came of age, in part, in Austin.

  • Kunze, Peter C., ed. The Films of Wes Anderson: Critical Essays on an Indiewood Icon. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014.

    An edited collection examining major themes, stylistic traits, influences, and interpretations of Anderson’s oeuvre from Bottle Rocket to Moonrise Kingdom.

  • Seitz, Matt Zoller. The Wes Anderson Collection. New York: Abrams Books, 2013.

    This beautifully illustrated coffee table book offers criticism by Seitz as well as in-depth interviews between Seitz and Anderson about each of the director’s films through Moonrise Kingdom.

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