The Royal Tenenbaums (2001) – Wes Anderson (Friday’s Finest)

The Royal Tenenbaums is the second Wes Anderson movie to feature here. It is an epic – depressive comedy with lots of sardonic giggles and a humane and rather sad feeling at its core. I was reminded to include this movie when I explored the evocative ballad Fly by Nick Drake on Tuesday. The Royal Tenenbaums contains one of the best film soundtracks I have heard. I couldn’t help but get a kick-out-of Anderson’s quirky inclusions of Dylan’s Wigwam and Billy -Main Title.

Wikipedia Storyline

The Royal Tenenbaums follows the lives of three gifted siblings who experience great success in youth, and even greater disappointment and failure in adulthood. The children’s eccentric father Royal Tenenbaum (Hackman) leaves them in their adolescent years, then returns to them after they have grown, falsely claiming he has a terminal illness. He works on reconciling with his children and ex-wife (Huston).

The Royal Tenenbaums is by no means a perfect film. It’s not as consistently wise or amusing as it wants to be —but it has many prodigious moments. It’s an absurdist and whimsical film that ‘marked’ Wes Anderson as “imaginatively visual” and one of the most original and distinctive storytellers in film. His style was most effectively incorporated in his 2014 masterpiece – The Grand Budapest Hotel.

I haven’t seen The Royal for a long time since I wore out the DVD in the first 5 years after its release, but I’m looking forward to revisit it in the next week or so. My favourite scenes from the movie are: Richie’s tennis meltdown; Chas and his Father’s moving reconciliation “I’ve Had A Rough Year, Dad. after Chas’ dog is run-over; Bill Murray as Raleigh St. Clair analysing Dudley; and Royal Tenenbaum and his grandchildren ‘swinging’ by their late-mother’s grave. Another sequence which I included below is where Royal (Gene Hackman) is taking his grandsons out for some old fashioned fun time. To be honest there are too many great scenes to recall here.

Anderson did such a marvelous job building this odd little world. It’s just one indelible image after another. Gene Hackman is just marvelous and won a Golden Globe for best actor in this. A 2016 poll of international critics assembling BBC’s 100 Greatest Films of the 21st Century also voted it one of the 100 greatest motion pictures since 2000.

Interesting Trivia:

Wes Anderson admitted in interviews that his one regret of his career thus far, was that he could not make the experience more enjoyable for his lead Gene Hackman. Gene Hackman had signed on knowing he only had a few roles left in his career and wanted something “fun” for his last few movies. However, making The Royal Tenenbaums was proving quite grueling for Hackman, which came to a head when in the middle of filming and in front of the crew Hackman shouted out, “Hey Wes, you said this was suppose to be fun and relaxing for me…well I’m not having fun”. Wes Anderson admitted that this comment broke him and that he wished he could have done more for Hackman.

“The more I live, the more I learn. The more I learn, the more I realize, the less I know.”- Michel Legrand

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Posted in Movies and TV

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