Wes Anderson Honors Fellini in a Delightful New Short Film

Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog
Nov. 13 2013 4:01 PM

Wes Anderson Honors Fellini in a Delightful New Short Film

While it’s “presented” by Prada, the new Wes Anderson short is every inch a Wes Anderson film. In fact, just about the only thing that’s “Prada” about it is the insignias on the racing jackets—and if you blink, you’ll miss them.

Starring Anderson favorite Jason Schwartzman, an American who crashes into a piece of his own past, the short is—like so many Wes Anderson ads—also an opportunity for Anderson to pay tribute to his cinematic ancestors. Specifically, Castello Cavalcanti seems to be full of nods to the work of Federico Fellini. (Another director, by the way, who made commercials.) In The Wes Anderson Collection, Anderson cites Fellini as an influence for his work in caricature. Here, the caricatures are all over town, but the Christ statue in the center seems to have been air-lifted from La Dolce Vita, alongside the motorcycle-riding paparazzo, and the car race itself seems to be an homage to the car race in Fellini’s Amarcord. And it’s not just Fellini: The title character seems to be named after Brazilian-born director Alberto Cavalcanti, of whom Anderson is a fan.

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Left: A scene from La Dolce Vita. Right: A scene from Castello Cavalcanti.

Still from YouTube

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But though those names loom large, you don’t need to know their work to appreciate the short, which is also full of the usual Anderson tics, down to even those yellow jump suits. It’s also just plain funny, with the ever-arch Schwartzman, in particular, at the top of his game.

Anderson has done a lot of ads over the years—for Xperia, for Hyundai, and for many, many others—but for my money this, if you want to call it an ad, is one of his best yet, perhaps his best since his spot for American Express (which was itself an homage to Truffaut’s Day for Night). I can’t wait for The Grand Budapest Hotel, but for eight minutes, at least, this helped hold me over.

Forrest Wickman is a Slate staff writer.