Film

Here's How Wes Anderson Built the World in 'Isle of Dogs'

"We had to design every little piece of trash on the island."

by Beckett Mufson
04 April 2018, 10:55pm

Screenshot via YouTube

Wes Anderson's latest feature film, Isle of Dogs, is a love letter to Japanese cinema and man's best friend. It's also a hugely ambitious stop-motion behemoth that required 2,200 puppets and 250 hand-crafted miniature sets to bring to life. A new video featurette, premiering exclusively below, documents the gargantuan artistic effort that went into the film's production design. An example: the team made 150 scale models of skyscrapers to create a picturesque cityscape that Anderson only used for two shots, according to producer Jeremy Dawson.

There are two stunning world divided between the hundreds of sets created for Isle of Dogs. Megasaki City is filled with fantastical Japanese architecture worthy of a Hayao Miyazaki film, while Trash Island's wasteland recalls the samurai Westerns of Akira Kurosawa. Anderson clearly asserts himself in details like the urban metropolis' retro communication technology and the meticulously-organized garbage explored by the titular dogs. "Parts of it are bright white paper. Parts of it are rusted cars. Parts of it are black TV screens," said director of photography Tristan Oliver. All the different pieces of trash are organized, in typical Anderson style, like different types of pieces in an erector set.

Image courtesy Fox Searchlight Pictures

The Fantastic Mr. Fox and Grand Budapest Hotel director is known for his distinctive cinematic style, and Isle of Dogs has gotten largely positive reviews for its artistic merit. But the film has garnered some controversy for Anderson's treatment of Japanese culture and largely white cast. The flick has also spurred a long-running conspiracy theory that Anderson actually hates dogs, exacerbated by the fact that he doesn't have one. Instead, he calls a pygmy goat his best friend.

But Isle of Dogs pushes stop-motion animation to exciting, ambitious new heights, and this behind-the-scenes look at how the film was made makes it abundantly clear how impressive Anderson's artistry really is.

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This article originally appeared on VICE US.