The reason why Wes Anderson loves killing animals in his films

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Courtney Howard // Film Critic

There’s no pussy-footing around the fact that filmmaker Wes Anderson loves including pet deaths in his films. It’s one of the things that drove me crazy about MOONRISE KINGDOM and, alternatively, one of the things that I valued about THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS. You can read my more long-form thoughts on that here. H*ck! The auteur’s practically earned himself a permanent three-alarm alert on DoesTheDogDie.com. Many animal lovers are trepidatious, to say the least, when we sign on to supporting Anderson’s art, buying our tickets and writing our reviews.

Back in 2014, at the press junket for THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL (a comedic farce in which he throws brutal disregard to the “save the cat” trope by killing the cat), I spoke with Anderson about what his reasoning was. Needless to say, he gave me a very Wes Anderson-y type answer as to my question of why.

I was thinking of it in Berlin and I feel like they say, ‘Why do you kill animals?’ Well we don’t kill animals. These are actors. We feel like, well, what actor doesn’t want a death scene anyway? If I was a cat, I would say, ‘I would love it if you kill me in this one.’ I have a great way I’m going to do this. So, I feel like I’m doing a favor to these animals.

Okay. Giving an actor a juicy death scene they can milk is a convincing spin on the argument and does manage to make sense – at least in the case of that particular film. From an actor’s standpoint, there’s dramatic meat there for them to dig into.

Time will tell if Anderson applies this philosophy once again to his new stop-motion animated film, ISLE OF DOGS, which just released their poster.

At least in this medium, any animal deaths won’t be quite as shockingly visceral as in his live-action films. But let’s continue to hope that any death showcased will have narrative impact, because why bother to show it then?

ISLE OF DOGS opens on April 20, 2018.

About author

Courtney Howard

Courtney Howard is a LAFCA, OFCS and AWFJ member, as well as a Rotten Tomatometer-approved film critic. Her work has been published on Variety, She Knows and Awards Circuit.