Rushmore – A Tale of Two Children

If Bottle Rocket was still a period of evolution for Anderson, then it’s in Rushmore that his vision becomes actualized.  Through Max (played by Jason Schwartzman) and Herman (played by Bill  Murray), Anderson’s stylistic trademarks become clear for the first time.  To a much higher extent than most other directors, Anderson embraces the outward appearance and presentation of his characters to represent who they are as people.  Max, a precocious teenager with an overly strong sense of self, dresses with more formality and personality than his prep school counterparts.  A repp tie and navy blazer is not enough, Max needs a beret, thick glasses, and a full suit to distinguish himself from his peers.  Ignoring the way everyone else appears, Max just dresses as he thinks he is, someone well beyond his physical years.  On the other is Herman, a weathered millionaire, with a general disinterest for everything around him.  Seeming to wear a suit out of habit, it’s Herman’s odd color choices, sunglasses, and dangling cigarette that contextualize him as a person.  Generally defeated at the start of the film, as Herman’s life begins to change direction, he cleans up a bit, but never loses the touches that remind everyone of the jaded man that lies inside.  Both Max and Herman ultimately resort to tactics that make them look like boys dressed as men, helping them fall neatly into the Andersonian world where aesthetic is everything.  The style of both characters is so specific to them, and also to the imagination of Anderson himself, so much of the two men lies in their clothes and what that says about them.

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  1. Can’t help but feel that Max’s character was more or less based on Andrea from Ermanno Olmi’s charming short film La Cotta.

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