Entertainment & Arts

Wes Anderson returns with Moonrise Kingdom

Kara Hayward and Jared Gilman in a scene from Moonrise Kingdom
Image caption Neither of the young actors at the centre of the story has acted before

Cult director Wes Anderson returns with a new movie Moonrise Kingdom, a tale of childhood romance set against the backdrop of a scouting camp. The film has been selected to open this year's Cannes Film Festival.

Movie hardcase Harvey Keitel was an "avid boy scout", Edward Norton is a "particularly skilled outdoorsman" and Bill Murray is the kind of person who could calm an angry mob from indulging in wanton destruction.

These are just some of the random kind of facts dished out by quirky US film director Wes Anderson as he talks about his latest film which tells the 1960s set tale of two 12-year-olds who fall in love and run away from a peaceful island community in New England.

Anderson is best known for his off-kilter comedy dramas such The Royal Tenenbaums and The Life Aquatic. Anderson directed the stop-motion animated adaptation of Fantastic Mr Fox in 2009.

Moonrise Kingdom is the 43-year-old's seventh full-length feature and his first set amid the ranks of the scouting world.

Something of which he admits to having had very little personal experience.

"I tried but I didn't really make much of a success of it," he admits while perusing the room service menu at a pricey central London hotel. "I think I did about four months or something. I didn't accomplish any rank or anything like that but I tried.

"You don't associate James Dean with scouting, it's not the coolest thing you can do. But you can't help but be impressed if someone becomes an eagle scout," he adds.

The film casts film newcomers Kara Hayward and Jared Gilman as youthful lovers Suzy and Sam and reunites Anderson with comic Bill Murray for their sixth film.

Regular cast member Jason Schwartzman also makes an appearance among the cast of Anderson's usual oddballs and outcasts.

A cast-against-type Bruce Willis stars as a less than-impressive -ocal lawman while Edward Norton and Harvey Keitel don full uniforms as scout masters.

Image caption Norton, as a scout leader, is described as a 'skilled outdoorsman'

"Harvey Keitel was an avid scout and Ed Norton does embody a lot of the scouting principles," says Anderson, recounting Norton's impressive naturalist CV.

"He is a particularly knowledgeable, skilled outdoorsman, he's a pilot and he does river rafting."

It is Anderson's first project with Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction star Keitel who, the director admits, he has wanted to work with "for many years".

"Harvey would say, 'I appreciate the suggestion but I don't want to play this little tiny cameo'.

"I think the reason he agreed to it, one because I was pleading that he would bring something special to the movie as this kind of legendary commander of the whole troop but I think part of why he said yes was nostalgia.

"He was in the marines but before that he was a scout."

The film follows the young couple as they embark on their voyage of discovery, as preternaturally sober and mature as the adults searching for them are neurotic and dysfunctional.

"For many years I'd wanted to do a story about a romance between two children where they take it so seriously that the adults don't know what to make of it," explains Anderson. "Everybody becomes a bit disturbed, a bit shocked by what's going on as these kids leave their control."

Image caption The film is Anderson's first to be shown at the Cannes Film Festival

Anderson enthusiasts will recognise the film for more than its whimsical nature. Imbued with the filmmaker's trademarks, every shot is deliberately framed with a single, central focal point.

Camera tracking shots do not swoop but rather move in direct lines forwards and back and side to side. The colours too, are in a primary palette with a bright yellow appearing in nearly every single shot.

Music plays a large part in the film, inspired by English composer Benjamin Britten - in particular his 1946 piece The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra.

"My reason for setting it in the 60s was not really a conceptual choice, I had these pieces of music, these Benjamin Britten pieces that were part of the inspiration for the story.

"They were the first things I had in mind. I wrote the year 1965 without having any particular intention of doing that."

The casting process for the young protagonists "started very early" with schoolchilden, most of whom had little or no acting experience "except the school play".

"Looking at little recordings of more than one thousand kids saying the same thing over and over and over," says Anderson, "You can get to the point where you hate the scene. With Kara's audition, it seemed like she was making up the words herself."

Image caption The adult characters are largely dysfunctional in the film

The role of Sam went to 12-year-old Gilman, "not for the the way he played the scene but mainly the way he looked and sounded. He was so charismatic and funny," says Anderson.

Moonrise Kingdom has been selected to open the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. Film aficionados may be surprised the director has never shown any of his previous movies at the festival on the French Riviera.

"Yeah, first time I've shown a film in Cannes and the first time I've been. I've never gone to even watch a movie there so, yeah, its very exciting," he says.

Last year, Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris had the honour, the year prior to that it was Sir Ridley Scott's turn with Robin Hood.

Anderson admits it is a daunting prospect joining their ranks.

"A little, when you finish the movie and have to show it to everybody, that's scary under any circumstances and in this case with so much focus on it," he says.

Image caption The film sees Anderson reunited with cast regulars including Bill Murray

"On the other hand, its not like we're putting on a play, they just flip a switch, then it starts and there's nothing that anybody can do about it.

"It's gonna be the same movie, more or less, every time and even though every audience reacts differently, there isn't any pressure on me to do anything, I already did it."

He adds: "Hopefully it's just a place for the people who made it to celebrate the movie together."

Anderson will at least have his good luck charm, Bill Murray, alongside him.

"He's just about the best person you could ever hope to have on a set with you," says Anderson.

"He's a great ally, in my experience anyway, he's someone you can rely on. You can say, 'There's a problem. Can you deal with this?'. And he'll think of a way and go and handle it.

"Because he's so funny, he's the kind of person, if there was a mob that was going to try and destroy something, he's one of the few people you could send to stop the mob and, depending on the circumstances, he'd have a very good shot."

Murray could yet prove handy dealing with unruly critics and journalists on the Cannes Croisette's red carpet come premiere time.

Moonrise Kingdom will be released in the UK on 25 May.

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