It was Moonrise Kingdom, Anderson’s first live action film in five years, that drove me to dedicate this week to the director and his films. Not only because it is a great film (which it certainly is), but more importantly because it feels as if all of Anderson’s previous movies were building up to this one. Set in 1965 on the isolated island of New Penzance off the coast of New England, Moonrise Kingdom is Anderson’s vision perfected. Similarly to Anderson’s earlier works the story has aspects of reality, but in Moonrise Kingdom more than any of his other films, they act only as a launching point into the larger Andersonian universe.
This approach is evident in the character’s costumes, all of which take from familiar influences, but blend them together in a manner that is unique to the film. For example, the fictitious Khaki Scouts sport uniforms that are reminiscent of a common troop uniform, but it’s their specific details-obscure patches, camp mocs, short shorts, carved brooches, and yellow trimmed shirts-that make them so special. The same goes for Walt Bishop (played by Bill Murray) with his patchwork madras pants, the Narrator (played by Bob Ballaban) and his red knee length coat with contrasting neckerchief, and Cousin Ben (played by Jason Schwartzman) in his mirrored Aviators. The characters do not belong to any specific place as we know it, they belong to the world of Moonrise Kingdom, a space entirely of Anderson’s imaging where he is able to tell the story exactly as he wishes.