Shot by Shot with ‘The French Dispatch’ Trailer

Wes Anderson is back with an ode to journalism, and it looks fantastic.
By  · Published on February 13th, 2020

Wes Anderson is back in the live-action fold, and he may have made his most Wes Anderson movie yet. The bright colors, symmetrical compositions, quirky humor, fashionable outfits, and whimsy that’s defined his work for decades are on full display in The French Dispatch, and it looks like another winning outing for the director.

The French Dispatch was inspired by the director’s love of journalism, and the story revolves around a team of editors and writers as they work on a special issue chronicling some of the publication’s best stories from throughout its history. That said, this is a Wes Anderson movie, which means the stories are quite weird.

Bringing these tales to life is a star-studded cast that includes Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, Frances McDormand, Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody, Léa Seydoux, Willem Dafoe, Saoirse Ronan, Timothée Chalamet, Elizabeth Moss, Christoph Waltz, Benicio Del Toro and many more.

Check out the trailer below, then join me as I break down some fun moments.

The French Dispatch

The trailer opens with an establishing shot of the magazine’s headquarters, as evidenced by the loud sign at the top of the building. The flat composition, perfect symmetry, and vibrant colors are classic Anderson traits, and it’s clear from the get-go that this is a trailer for one of his movies.

French Dispatch

Cut to the magazine’s office, where a team of journalists and a waiter are gathered around Arthur Howitzer Jr. (Bill Murray). The trailer reveals that Howitzer is a pioneer in his field, a legend who started out writing travelogue columns only to eventually turn them into an esteemed magazine that focuses on everything from politics to the arts. Murray’s character was inspired by Harold Ross, the founding editor of The New Yorker.

French Dispatch

In this scene, Owen Wilson’s character rocks a beret in front of a building site. It’s another perfectly composed frame that showcases cinematographer Robert D. Yeoman’s eye for a visual while revealing Wes Anderson’s quirky sense of humor and love of outlandish fashion. This scene is oddly dreary, but Wes Anderson’s fingerprints are still all over it.

French D

Chalamet plays a student revolutionary, and in this scene, he’s locked in a game of chess. However, this scene contrasts the other moments in the trailer involving the students, which tend to revolve around rioting. It’s also clear from the signs in the background that some of these youngsters are part of a boy’s club, but their main goal is causing anarchy and gaining freedom.

French Id

Here, Howitzer questions the tastefulness of a story written by Wilson’s character. The latter also just so happens to be playing with a bicycle in a library. Why is there a bicycle in the library? Who knows. Still, this scene reveals a little about Wilson’s role: he takes on the risky stories. The character was inspired by Joseph Mitchell, a legendary journalist who was known for writing character studies of underdogs and undesirables. Elsewhere in the scene, Wally Wolodarsky‘s character casually reads a book without a care in the world.


One of the stories covered in the movie pertains to a chef (played by Stephen Park) who specializes in “police cooking.” In this scene, he is whisking away while flames roar around him, presumably because he’s so used to this routine.


The trailer ends with an employee getting fired, but he isn’t allowed to cry because the boss doesn’t like people’s tears. Judging by the instructional sign above the door, it would seem that lots of writers have lost their jobs at this magazine in the past. But that’s just the cut-throat industry that is journalism for you.

The French Dispatch will be released in theaters on July 24th.

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Kieran is a Contributor to the website you're currently reading. He also loves the movie Varsity Blues.