Wes Anderson gets all the symmetry credit in modern cinema, mainly because nearly every shot he takes can be folded on its central vertical axis and have both sides mostly reflect the same image. But Wes isn’t the only Anderson who likes his frames nice and symmetrical, because Paul Thomas (no relation, but man wouldn’t that be cool?) has been known to set a frame on that same central axis, and in none of his stellar movies is this technique more apparent than it is in MAGNOLIA, PTA’s modern fable of love, family, success and other disasters.
In this quick snippet of brilliance from editor Candice Drouet, the centered shots from MAGNOLIA are stitched together with the addition of a visible central axis to show just how exact PTA lines things up. In a film like MAGNOLIA, where pretty much every relationship is dysfunctional and struggling to find a balance between extremes, this kind of framing becomes a positive opposing force to the story that creates a calmness among all the interpersonal turmoil, and acts as a visual equalizer among the narrative chaos.
Magnolia Centered / Candice drouet from Really Dim on Vimeo.