You’re all probably sick of me posting about Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs by now, and to that I say ‘Sorry, not sorry.’ It’s just so cool at the moment, people are INTERESTED in seeing how puppets are made, what goes on behind the scenes of a stop motion set. And this news, hearing people talking about animation like this, wanting to see the sets and the puppets on display in an exhibition, pushing the release date of the film forward so it came out a week earlier, this positive energy towards a stop motion film, it thrills me!
So you’re probably thinking something along the lines of:
Sinéad you’ve already posted about the exhibition and the film what more could you possibly post about?
Well today I’m going to talk about the script and how it compares to the movie. I bought a hardback copy of the screenplay which was exclusively sold at the exhibition when I went up to London a couple of weeks back. I decided to watch the film first and then read the screen play as I didn’t want to read any spoilers. Knowing I would end up seeing the film more than once anyway – due to the gorgeousness of the puppets and I hoped a thrilling narrative – I didn’t see the harm in waiting to enjoy the screenplay during a day off from work.
What I thought was rather lovely about the screen play is that before the script actually begins there is a short interview between the creators of the story: Roman Coppola, Jason Schwwartzman, Kunichi Nomura and Wes Anderson.
Having this interview was a nice way for the reader to get into the mindset of the film, why it was created and the atmosphere in which the film blossomed. It seems a lot of the initial forming of the narrative was actually created over several phone calls rather than face to face discussions. This book also revealed that to begin with Isle of Dogs was a project that was just about dogs abandoned in a wasteland, not set in Japan at all. It was only decided to be set in Japan after Wes Anderson emailed Kunichi Nomura saying that he wanted to make an animation set in Japan. And suddenly the two ideas rolled into one. This decision however, provided an environment which helped to create an animation with roots embedded deeply into Japanese sci-fi genre. It is because of this that the film is meant to look as if it has been set in the future but as if it was made a couple of decades before. Originally the team had planned to set the story in 2007, with aspects to make you think the movie supposedly had been made in 1962 – similar to films such as Blade Runner. This thought process can be seen in the Little Pilot’s flight suit and style of aircraft.
I also loved that they had included some concept design sketches of characters and scene development concept art too, giving the reader another way to look into the history of making this film.
I have to admit that I was a little disappointed in the screen play when I started reading. After seeing the film first time round and noticing that some scenes were Japanese audio with minimal english subtitles or clipped english dubbing, I had hoped that there would be more explanation to some of the scenes in the screenplay. However this was not really the case. Although it did have character movements, body language and emotional cues, there where points where I had hoped that the screenplay would reveal a small nugget of insight into what a character was saying. For the majority of the film, the audience does not need to know the word for word goings on, they get the idea from the flow of the film, but there is the odd occasion here it would be nice to know a little more detail.
Now don’t get me wrong I don’t regret buying the screenplay at all, I love it. A screenplay is like seeing the film all over again but better as your imagination brings forth the parts you loved from the depths of your mind no matter how long it has been since you last saw the movie on screen and makes it a new as if you watched it yesterday.
Reading the screenplay also made the second viewing of Isle Of Dogs slightly easier too. Part of this was because I understood the narrative and dialogue better, which meant I could focus more on the physical demonstration in front of me. I could recline in my seat and enjoy watching the sets, the fuzzing of wool as dust, the puppets, the movement of fur as an animator slowly adjusts the placement of a paw on garbage.
And I thought I would include an image of my favourite scene from the film with Oracle the all knowing Pug as she delivers a ‘vision’ about the weather:
So yeah, sorry if I’ve bored anyone with yet another Isle of Dogs post. But clearly I’m as obsessed as a dog with a bone! I promise my next post isn’t going to be Wes Anderson related…or dog related for that matter…I hope!