Wes Anderson’s newest film “The Grand Budapest Hotel” opens today. Anderson’s films are undeniably unique in both their narrative and visual style. Common threads run through each of his films, including distinctive soundtracks and recurring actors and actresses (Bill Murray, Angelica Houston and Owen Wilson, just to name a few). But, an aspect that might be overlooked is the prevalence of dogs.
While there are certainly numerous theories as to why Anderson includes dogs in his films (Did he have a beloved childhood dog? Is it because dogs immediately create a sentimental bond with many audience members?), this post considers the rather simple and timeless idea that dogs represent loyalty and innocence. Although there might be evil or sadness in his stories, dogs serve as a type of balancing factor. Their goodness is consistent and unwavering. Regardless of the backdrop of the movie – from aboard a vessel at sea to a park in Manhattan – these dogs are present to teach the viewers a lesson.
As we look forward to Wes Anderson’s new film, let’s reminisce on his previous projects and the roles of pups in each.
1.Buckley from The Royal Tennenbaums
In “The Royal Tenenbaums,” Buckley survives a plane crash and lives on to comfort his family with his loyalty, calm demeanor and those adorable velvety ears. Towards the end of the film Owen Wilson’s character, Eli, is high on mescaline and crashes into the Tennenbaum house– killing Buckley. Although it’s a horrible thing to happen, Anderson uses Buckley’s death to fill your stomach with a pit of sadness, making Eli’s spiral out-of-control all the more visceral and emotionally powerful.
2. Snoopy from Moonrise Kingdom
Snoopy is quite the trooper and outstanding pup scout. Snoopy is loyal, brave and calm amidst plenty of chaos. His sudden passing presents the viewer with a tragic loss. Further, Sam and Suzy’s unsentimental eulogy (reprinted below) represents their inability to confront reality and the loss of an innocent life.
Sam Shakusky: Who’s to say? But he didn’t deserve to die.
3. Spitz from The Fantastic Mr. Fox
Spitz is one of 14 beagles owned by Mr. Boggis in “Fantastic Mr. Fox.” The beagles are steadfast in their role as protectors of Mr. Boggis’ chickens from the foxes. Mr. Fox laces blueberries with sleeping pills and shoots them spitball-style at the beagles so that Mr. Fox and his friends can steal from the farmers. (Beagles. Love. Blueberries.) While Spitz might appear evil to Mr. Fox, he is simply remaining true to his job. Anderson uses dogs in this film as comedic derpy foils to the farmers’ all-out villainous representations.
4. Cody, from The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
Cody is a three-legged labrador mix who is buds with Steve (Bill Murray). If you’ve seen this movie, you might remember that Alistair Hennessey (Steve’s nemesis) hits sweet Cody with a newspaper. While it is tough to watch, it underscores the meanness present in Hennessey. By inflicting pain on an innocent, harmless being, depth is added to Hennessey’s characterization as the villian.
Here’s hoping Wes Anderson’s newest project “The Grand Budapest Hotel” gives us another dog character… But rumor is there’s a CAT. Say it ain’t so, Wes! Say it ain’t so!