November 29, 2021

“The French Dispatch” and Wes Anderson as seen by Alexandre Desplat

CINEMA – Wes Anderson does nothing like the others. This Wednesday, October 27, the new film by the director of The Grand Budapest Hotel and Fantastic Mr. Fox, film for which he arrived with fanfare with all of his cast aboard a van at the foot of the red carpet of the last Cannes Film Festival.

It’s called The French Dispatch and, as its name suggests, blows an amusing declaration of love to France, but also to journalism. The pitch? When their editor-in-chief dies, the employees of a newspaper located in the fictitious town of Ennui-sur-Blasé meet. Now is the time to write the fateful obituary, but also to remember some of the most thrilling stories they have written under the authority of their former boss during their career.

Four stories are retained. The first follows a reporter on a bicycle, played by Owen Wilson. The second features a prison guard (Léa Seydoux), also the muse of a prisoner whose abstract paintings fly like hot cakes.

While we witness, in the third, the birth of a romance between two young revolutionaries (Timothée Chalamet and Lyna Khoudri), the fourth sends us on a mad chase with the cook of the police station (Stephen Park) to find the beloved son of his boss.

A meticulous and meticulous man

The actors follow one another. The decorations, in color or black and white, too. The musical theme remains. It was written by Alexandre Desplat, French music composer who has worked with big names in cinema, such as Jacques Audiard, Stephen Frears or Guillermo Del Toro, but also with Wes Anderson on several occasions (Isle of Dogs, Moonrise Kingdom). “I think I can say today that I am lucky to be part of this bunch of wonderful artists [qui collaborent avec lui]”, He comments to the HuffPost.

For The French Dispatch, he reduced the number of instruments so that the music is unlike any of the American filmmaker’s other films. “Little by little, around the piano, we put together combinations with the harpsichord and recorders, that is to say unexpected things in terms of sonorities ”, explains the musician, who says he was very inspired by the Dada movement. Something mocking, glittering and melancholy.

Alexandre Desplat is a big fan of Wes Anderson’s cinema, especially for his tongue-in-cheek, ironic, but never mean humor. Working with him is a special experience. “He is very meticulous and very meticulous,” says the composer. And at the same time, in this meticulousness, he invites his collaborators, whether they are technicians or actors, in an extravagance that he will put in a frame. ”

“What I like are the images”

The 60-year-old music lover never reads the script beforehand. “What I like about cinema are the images,” he tells us. Once toured, this is where the writing can begin. “Next, [Wes Anderson] quickly gives me the corrections and directions he would like me to choose ”, continues the composer.

And to add: “He also has this very singular thing which is to take the music, take it to the editing, readjust it in order to make a little Swiss clock. This mechanism, I must say, is quite rare. It’s very important for him because the music becomes a rhythmic process that will really bring all the energy of the film to life. ”

Symmetry, panoramic sweeps, zooms. Today, Wes Anderson’s style is very recognizable. “As he has gained confidence, and as he has also directed animated films, he allows himself more extrapolations, making his cinema even more unique and personal”, notes Alexandre Desplat.

Poetry and melancholy

Like each of the directors with whom he has collaborated, Wes Anderson revealed something special about him, “a musical approach touched upon very early in his career”, notably in short films, commercials or sketches. “It’s light, melodic music, tinged with somewhat unusual instrumentations that I lost afterwards,” says the musician. It is a territory that I really like. Not only because there is this fantasy, but also this very beautiful poetry and melancholy. ”

Their story is not going to end there. They have already started working on their next feature film together, titled Asteroid City. As the shoot, starring Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson and Tom Hanks among others, has just ended, the time has soon come to focus on the musical notes.

See also on The HuffPost: Why Hans Zimmer almost refused to compose the soundtrack of “The Lion King”