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30 Things We Learned From ‘The Royal Tenenbaums’ Commentary

Wes Anderson tells us all about his movie, The Royal Tenenbaums.
Royal Tenenbaums
By  · Published on May 24th, 2012

Wes Anderson loves family dramas dressed as fantasies, and this notion is no less palpable with The Royal Tenenbaums, the film that essentially set him on the map. A lot of us remember finding Bottle Rocket in video stores or trekking out with friends to see Rushmore, but that was mostly because of Bill Murray. The Royal Tenenbaums was the movie that made people realize this voice in the world of independent film making had arrived.

11 years later, and Anderson’s latest, Moonrise Kingdom, another light-hearted drama made to look like a fable, is upon us. However, we felt it was time to go back and see exactly what the writer/director had to say about his pinnacle film, The Royal Tenenbaums. There’s sure to be references of French movies and anecdotes about writing with Owen Wilson, but that’s the obvious stuff. We’ve got 28 more items beyond that. So help yourselves with what we learned from the commentary for The Royal Tenenbaums.

Cue the Elliott Smith.

The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)

commentators: Wes Anderson (co-writer/director)

Best in Commentary

“The movie was always meant to be a New York movie, but, somewhere along the way, it became, as I feel everything I’ve done, a fable.”

“I think, among other themes, one of the big ones in the movie has to do with failure, and the effect it has on people. In the case of this family, all these children…I got this expression from Bob Wilson, which is they peaked early.”

“I’d quit smoking. This movie ended that.”

Final Thoughts

Remember what we said last week – and the week before – about director flying solo on these commentary tracks? Scratch that, because Wes Anderson knows exactly how to deliver ample amounts of insight and anecdotes about The Royal Tenenbaums here. Granted, this is a Criterion Collection disc, and if there’s anyone who won’t stand for 10 minutes of silence in a commentary track, it’s the people at Criterion. Once again they prove their worth, and, once again, Anderson makes it clear how incredibly talented and full of knowledge he is.

There are several references brought up in the commentary, most of them being relayed by Anderson brushing on what inspired certain sections of the film. There is a definite passion for films of old, outside-the-box music, and left-of-center artists he is fascinated by. All of that comes through on the commentary, and it’s one that anyone, not just fans of the man’s work, should seek out and listen to.

Now if only Criterion would be us a Fantastic Mr. Fox Blu, we could all die happy.

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