This is about a movie that has been out for a while now but comes from one of my favourite directors, Wes Anderson. His first children's movie, The Fantastic Mr. Fox, came out in 2009. I only realized after the fact that this director created The Royal Tenenbaums, another favourite of mine. I had felt that same joy I had during The Tenenbaums as I did in Mr. Fox. Then a wondrous friend connected the two together and I became instantly an auteur fan. For indeed, Wes Anderson is an auteur.
Mr. Fox is a film about self realization. Each character is a wild animal with a unique personality. The narrative blooms into a story about individual discovery and character development. All the animals at times fight domesticity. They are bound my moral code. The conflict arises when Mr. Fox breaks from the mold, upsetting the entire community structure.
Mrs. Fox asks why Mr. Fox robbed Boggis, Bunce, & Beans. He reluctantly admits, "I am a wild animal." We know he is a fox from the beginning, even if he wears a domesticated suit and lives in a domesticated "human" environment. He hunts chickens, inhales his food savagely, and lives in a burrow.
Ash knows he is different but doesn't want to admit it. He wants everyone to see that he is an athlete. He has to convince his dad and mom that he has what it takes to uphold the family name. He is able to change Mr. Fox's opinion during the Kristofferson rescue. Mr. Fox says "you are an athlete. Here put on this bandit hat." What Ash originally lacked was the authorial voice (Mr. Fox) to authenticate his character. Ash had to believe he was an athlete before he could become one.
The action is predicated on the characters discovering who they are and finding the words to describe their characters (or in the case of Kylie, he decides to express himself in gestures at the end). Mr. Fox intelligently refers to each of his community friends by their Latin name: vulpes vulpes, meles meles, lepus europaeus, etc. This is the major signifying moment in the film. They become wild animals with distinctive characteristics. Okay, maybe not the pyrotechnics and blowing up things (cough Badger). The characters are both familiar and unfamiliar. They are wild but tame. They cohabitate and think individually.
The brilliant banter between characters and the all to familiar voices behind the puppets gives this Roald Dahl classic new breath and meaning. Truly a brilliant film filled with brilliant sounds:
Mr. Fox: Pete's Song
Everything in the miniature world seems believable. In The Wes Anderson Collection, a book by Matt Zoller Seitz, Wes talks about using Rahl Dahl's actual house as a model for Mr. Fox's tree home, bringing the outside non-fictional world into the fictional world itself - linking author and character together.
The major narrative conflicts are tired neatly together at the end, the pinnacle moment being a silent encounter between a lone Wolf and the Fox rescue team.
A brilliant film. In case I didn't say it before.