​the darkest scenes in wes anderson’s colorful films

Don’t be fooled by the light hearted whimsy and picturesque scenery: there’s depression, violence and suicide underlying Wes Anderson’s cult lead roles.

by i-D Staff
27 April 2015, 7:45pm

Beneath the fantasy settings, the girls wearing eyeshadow, the boys wearing uniforms, the pretty French soundtracks and the totally symmetrical backdrops, the characters in Wes Anderson's whimsical films often deal with the darker side of the human psyche. Depression, suicide, incest (well, adopted-sister), violence, murder, beheadings and dismemberings are disguised with saccharine sweetness and deadpan comedy. Sometimes tragedy has a romantic side, and Wes Anderson hits the nail on this head. One clever Vimeo user, Dávid Velenczei, has montaged together the most gut-wrenching and violent parts of Bottle Rocket, Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou, The Darjeeling Limited, Moonrise Kingdom and The Grand Budapest Hotel to show us the dark side of Wes Anderson's brilliant mind. Here, we count down the saddest and most savage scenes from his films…

"Mmm I'm a little bit lonely these days."
No one plays a depressed, lonely man quite like (or anything like) Bill Murray. One of Anderson's favorite band members, Bill has appeared in seven Anderson productions, from lead roles to cameos. The director said, "I always write with Bill in mind." Don't we all, Wes. Rushmore was Murray's first Anderson film, where he plays a pissed off millionaire whose children are spotty and insufferable. This scene comes quite late in the film, after Bill has had a hard time: his wife has left him, his mistress isn't interested and his son has given him a black eye. The "mmm" at the beginning of the sentence, "mmm I'm a little bit lonely these days" is a prime example of Anderson and Bill's completely unique ability to put sadness in an irreverent context.

"I'm going to kill myself tomorrow."
This is the saddest scene in any Wes Anderson film. The director moves seamlessly from deadpan comedy and colorful whimsy to heart-wrenching despair. Luke Wilson plays Richie Tenenbaum, the favorite child of Royal Tenenbaum, who is in love with his adopted sister, Margo. In this scene, soundtracked by Elliot Smith's Needle in the Hay, Richie sheds himself, cutting off his hair, shaving his beard and then stares at himself in the mirror, declaring in a whisper: "I'm going to kill myself tomorrow." It is, notably, one of the most physically dark scenes in an Anderson film too, with the light turned off and muted colors. You can watch this scene over and over again and it doesn't lose any power.

"He didn't deserve to die."
Everyone knows that you don't kill the dog in a movie. Murder the lover, drown the main character, but never off the dog. There's something innately sad about man's best friend being killed by man, but Wes Anderson does innate sadness very sweetly. As 12-year-old pen pals Sam and Suzy are on the run from their dysfunctional families, Social Services and the Khaki Scouts, the camp dog Snoopy is struck in the neck by a stray arrow. "Was he a good dog?" Suzy asks. "Who's to say, but he didn't deserve to die," Sam replies. The dead dog even gets his own bloody screen time, and was a real terrier who could immobilize himself in one breath.

"Don't point that gun at him, he's an unpaid intern."
Among many of the comically brilliant fight scenes in Wes Anderson's movies, from the three brothers wrestling and macing each other in The Darjeeling Limited to the shootout in the lobby of The Grand Budapest Hotel, there's this one. Steve Zissou (Bill Murray) guns down the pirates who have hijacked his boat, beaten up his long lost son (Owen Wilson) and taken his crew hostage. Whilst still in a blue dressing gown, Steve sees bullets flying left, right and center as he protects the Belafonte.


Text Sarah Raphael and Felicity Kinsella

Wes Anderson