Wes Anderson's Immaculate Composition, Illustrated, In This Short Video

As the aesthete director's latest film, The Grand Budapest Hotel, rolls out in theaters, a new video reveals one of the key ingredients of his visual palette: centering.

Wes Anderson's films look exhaustively fussed over. Every frame is like an album cover—beautiful, richly detailed, and with masterful symmetry. As the aesthete director's latest visual feast, The Grand Budapest Hotel, rolls out in theaters, a new video examines the balance Anderson achieves with nearly every scene through centering.

A filmmaker who goes by Kogonada was working on a featurette for Criterion on the visual cues from Anderson's other films that recur in Fantastic Mr. Fox, when he decided to make a companion video. By adding a white dotted line down the middle of the frame, Kogonada's video "Centered" shows off the immaculate composition in scenes from all across Anderson's filmography. Whether it's a person, a stack of rocks, a tent-zipper, or a building, something is almost always placed dead center, with a comforting cinematic feng shui occurring on either side.

This video is just one of many reasons why Anderson's meticulously appointed films can either by enjoyed at face value, or studied in depth.

H/t to Death and Taxes

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  • James Wallace

    Not one shot from BOTTLE ROCKET?! Anderson's directorial debut is where he first established this style that has come to be known as his own, specifically the centering of framing. Sure, it's rough in BR but you can see the seeds planted for what the auteur he would eventually grow into.

  • Amanda McDaniel

    This helps account for the sometimes startling nature of scenes in Anderson films... most people go for anything but balance these days after unique composition styles were revealed and assumed superior. I knew I liked Royal Tenenbuams and this helped confirm it.

  • Matt Love

    And there might be those that would maintain that no matter how carefully Wes Anderson balances the visual elements in his films, they just aren't nearly as fun and pleasant to watch as some clickbait sites would have you believe.

  • Lee Stokes

    I won't claim to be one, but there are those that would insist that centering the frame isn't the most pleasing method of composition.

  • Jason Epperson

    It's not about pleasing. The strongest position in a composition is just off center. But, when Anderson centers shots perfectly on a division, he gets you to look at everything on the screen at once. He doesn't want you to focus on the subject. This can account for both why his films are incredibly visually appealing, but also why you don't seem to connect as closely with the characters.