×

Wes Anderson on the Politics of ‘Isle of Dogs’ and a Return to Stop-Motion

Wes Anderson and the producers and cast of Berlinale opening movie “Isle of Dogs,” cracked wise through a bubbly press conference Thursday that paid no heed to such weighty matters as the #MeToo movement and whether the Berlin Palast should unfurl a red or black carpet. Three times the film’s assembled cast burst into song, with Bill Murray leading a rendition of Bob Balaban’s name to the tune of the Beach Boys’ “Barbara Ann,” and then happy birthday to Koyu Rankin on his 11th birthday.

Getting to the politics of the movie, which follows events after dogs are exiled from a fictional Japanese metropolis to an island full of garbage and are demonized by politicians and authorities, director Wes Anderson said that they were made up, but that real life started to creep in.

“We knew there was something happening politically [in the film]. It’s where the story came from, and what happens in the movie, it’s our fantasy of the politics in this made-up place,” he said. “But then, because we have been working on this movie for a long time, the world began to change in the movie and we all said it feels right for the moment, so maybe there were tiny places along the way where we were getting new inspiration from real life.”

Anderson talked about the team’s influences for “Isle of Dogs.” “There are two directors who are our inspirations, Kurosawa and Miyazaki. We even have Mari Natsuki who is in [Miyazaki’s] ‘Spirited Away,’” he said. “With Miyazaki you get nature and you get moments of peace and a kind of rhythm that is not in the American, for instance, animation tradition so much.”

The film is Anderson’s return to opening the Berlin Film Festival after “The Grand Budapest Hotel” in 2014 and his return to stop-motion after 2009’s Roald Dahl adaptation “Fantastic Mr. Fox.” He talked about his new film’s animation technique. “If you’re going to do it that way you’re embracing old methods, but we pushed that as far as we could,” he said. “We tried to do everything we can in the camera and I don’t think there is anything in the whole movie that you would call CG.”

Anderson was part of an 11-person panel at the “Isle of Dogs” press conference, with Tilda Swinton and others in the front row. “Most of the actors here are people who I have either worked with before or have loved for years,” Anderson said. “One thing about an animated movie is [talent] can’t really say ‘not available.’”

Asked about being a voice actor rather than appearing on screen, Murray said: “With this movie it is a little bit like in the ‘We Are the World’ video. These are some of the great voices of cinema and I’m very happy to be singing even if I only get one verse.”

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Beyonce Knowles'The Lion King' film premiere,

    ABC Announces Behind-the-Scenes Special for Beyoncé's 'Lion King' LP

    ABC has announced a new behind-the-scenes look into the making of Beyoncé’s “The Lion King: The Gift” LP, which is set to air September 16 on ABC at 10 p.m. EST. Titled “Beyoncé Presents: Making the Gift,” the new hour-long special will allow viewers to “experience the process” behind the “Lion King” companion album, according [...]

  • Jason Lei Howden, Samara Weaving and

    Daniel Radcliffe On Acting With Weapons Nailed To Your Hands

    How did “Guns Akimbo” director and writer Jason Lei Howden convince Daniel Radcliffe to play a character with guns nailed to his hands? Easy, he sent him the script. Radcliffe joined Howden and “Ready or Not’s” breakout star Samara Weaving in the Variety’s Toronto Film Festival studio, presented by AT&T to talk the limits of [...]

  • Box Office: It Chapter Two Maintains

    Box Office: 'It: Chapter Two' Continues International Reign With $47 Million

    Pennywise’s reign of terror hasn’t wavered: Warner Bros.’ “It Chapter Two” maintained first place on box office charts, led by another strong showing overseas. The sequel, based on Stephen King’s horror novel, generated another $47 million at the international box office for a foreign tally of $169 million. After two weeks of release, “It Chapter [...]

  • First still from the set of

    Taika Waititi’s 'Jojo Rabbit' Wins Top Prize at Toronto Film Festival Awards

    Taika Waititi’s “Jojo Rabbit” has won the coveted People’s Choice Award at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival. The honor positions the film for a potential Oscar run and bolsters its awards chances. That’s good news for Fox Searchlight, which must have been disappointed by the lackluster critical reception for the movie, a dark comedy [...]

  • Constance Wu and Jennifer Lopez star

    Box Office: 'Hustlers' Racks Up Solid $33 Million Debut, 'Goldfinch' Bombs

    “Hustlers” rolled in the Benjamins this weekend, collecting $33.2 million when it debuted in 3,250 North American theaters. Boosted by rave reviews and stellar word of mouth, “Hustlers” beat expectations and now ranks as the best start for an STX film, along with the biggest live-action opening weekend for stars Jennifer Lopez and Constance Wu. [...]

  • German Cinema Is Diverse, But Is

    German Cinema Is Varied, But Is It Too Risk Averse?

    One of the strengths of German cinema is its diversity, says Simone Baumann, managing director of the national film promotion agency German Films. As well as the three films at Toronto directed by female German helmers, there was also German filmmaker Thomas Heise’s documentary film essay “Heimat Is a Space in Time.” Then there were [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content