That Special Sixties Summer
How the filmmakers conveyed MOONRISE KINGDOM’s special nostalgia
From hand-picked wall murals to Texas-sourced trailer homes, Wes Anderson and his design team carefully considered every object to capture the just right sensibility of the early sixties.
Another factor bringing MOONRISE KINGDOM’s cast and crew closer together was the collective make-believe effort; whether they were alive in 1965 or not, each member of the unit had to work together to help the actors slip into their characters and the world they inhabit.
Producer Jeremy Dawson notes, “This story is Wes’ take on 1965. From my perspective, his previous movies always existed in a time that you couldn’t quite place, mixing past and present.
“Wes has always storyboarded in pre-production; something that we had done on Fantastic Mr. Fox, which we also applied here, was to edit the storyboards together with voices and music, pre-testing some of the sequences.”
“Our starting point was visual research,” says costume designer Kasia Walicka Maimone. “That came primarily from photography.”
Art director Gerald Sullivan concurs, saying that “the biggest thing for us in the art department was researching the architecture of the time, and of the area; meaning, both interiors and exteriors. So, we looked at houses on islands, lighthouses, shingled houses – all in constant collaboration with Wes, who had collected reams of research photos for us to make use of in our designs.” So many photos accrued that a private production website had to be set up in order for departmental staffs and crew members to have access to them all.
Set decorator Kris Moran, who had first worked alongside Anderson as “on-set prop” on The Royal Tenenbaums, notes, “Wes cares about every detail so much. We scoured antique shops and borrowed things from crew members and people we met. If Wes had been out walking and seen something on someone’s porch that he liked, we chased it down. When I was dressing a set, it was often with something that wasn’t necessarily iconic of the time, but tertiary and interesting so that it could get more at the characters’ history.
“This movie has a bit of a different aesthetic than Wes’ other movies; it’s a little more rough around the edges, and a little more lived-in.”
Yet there often proved to be little in the way of vintage props, set dressing, or wardrobe that could be found on the scale needed for the production.
One exception was the trailer home for Captain Sharp, Bruce Willis’ character; the desired 1952 Spartanette was found through a dealer in Texas. But for Robert Yeoman’s camera to be able to move around inside, Moran says, “We actually had to cut it apart and then rebuild it. The interior was intact, but we reconfigured it so there could be a 360-degree field of vision inside. We then re-dressed it in full.”