Roald Dahl by Wes Anderson: 4 corti e la magia oltre la palette

The recognizability, the blessing and curse of art. For an artist, the moment when their expressive key becomes immediately recognizable to the public triggers an oxymoronic reaction: on one hand, there is satisfaction and fulfillment because their style and intent have achieved the ultimate goal of being understood and embraced; on the other hand, when their works become recognizable, giving birth to a style that often carries their name, temporary glory splits, revealing a dark side where the risk of being prisoners of oneself dominates. Preferring coherence to experimentation, nature to the unknown. And it is this whirlwind of complex lights and shadows that fiercely dominates Wes Anderson’s cinema today.

Wes Anderson’s Netflix shorts in a sublimation of the Wes Andersonian soul

Over the years, Wes Anderson has developed a precise style characterized by a distinctive color palette, composed of retro-inspired pastel colors (so characteristic that it has become viral on social media thanks to some presets that reproduce the iconic style); by the meta-narrative imprint that permeates his stories, which, just like a spiral, fold back on themselves, giving life to an infinite game of Russian dolls; and by the surreal, abstract, and at times fairy-tale-like atmosphere that encompasses the continuous tribute to childhood – always dear to the director. All these peculiarities can be found in Anderson’s four short films, faithfully inspired by the stories of writer Roald Dahl (and available on Netflix), which touch on high, precious notes and sublimate his style. Four unexpectedly engaging and disturbing short films, in which the pettiness of human beings is packaged with colored paper – brutally expanding its power – leaving the audience with an anguishing legacy.

The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar opens the investigation into the relationship between man and animal

Four short stories that come to life, literally animate, through the performances of the director’s fetish actors – Benedict Cumberbatch, Rupert Friend, Ralph Fiennes, Dev Patel recite word for word Dahl’s stories – in a transition from written to audiovisual medium with incredible evocative power. It starts with The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar – the most impactful short film, presented at the 2023 Venice Film Festival – in which Benedict Cumberbatch is the protagonist of an intriguing story that keeps the audience glued to the screen, almost in a state of trance and dizziness caused by the fast pace of the story told by the narrator. The syncopated writing of the texts is faithfully reproduced visually and sonically, in an intoxicating journey that can also be found in the other three short films.

From fairy tale tones, we then move on to a deeper exploration of the human soul with the anxious tale of Poison, the tragic story of bullying inspired by a real-life event in The Swan, and the weird and pulp fairy tale of The Rat Catcher, with dark and brutal twists. The intertwining of the human and the animal, whether due to manifest resemblance in the writer’s description (Fiennes/mouse) or because the man and the creature are somehow deeply connected (the poor Friend/swan).