Animal Symbolism in The Royal Tenenbaums
It's certainly no secret Wes Anderson films are chock full of symbolism and subtext, as Reddit user Kemlee points out. It appears that a deep dive into The Royal Tenenbaums shows each of the characters was represented by an animal. Kemlee's theory goes like this:
"Just take Royal's prized Havelina Boar's Head. What better symbol for an adulterous man than an old snorting pigs head? When Etheline kicks Royal out of of the house on Archer Avenue, the Havelina comes down off the wall, to symbolize Royal's departure. It is hung again when Royal returns home with 'the cancer.'"
This symbolism even extends to the children:
"Ari and Uzi are the dalmatian-mice; productive, reproductive, and indistinguishable from each other. Chas' psyche is still stuck at the house on Archer Avenue just like the mice that remain there. Chas' wife Rachel who dies in a plane crash is represented by their beagle Buckley, who miraculously survived the disaster. When Buckley is killed at the hands of Eli Cash, Chas is finally able to put the death of his wife behind him. Royal gives Chas a gift - Sparkplug, the fireman's dalmatian dog, a sort of a adult-version of the mice Chas created.
Richie's animal avatar is Mordacai, his faithful boyhood bird. Richie's childhood trauma is wrapped up in the inability to express romantic love towards his sister, Margot. This frustration leads Richie to fly the coop, so to speak. He leaves New York City for a sabbatical at sea, mirroring the action of Mordecai who sails away when Richie sets him free, right before the opening credits. The bird returns when Richie is ready to be honest about his feelings for Margot.Margot's Spirit Animal is the zebra and the reasons for this are both concrete and abstract. Concrete in that the wallpaper in her room is full of zebras, in the play she writes as a child she casts herself as a zebra, and when she spends the night at the museum with Richie they sleep in the Africa wing underneath a zebra. Abstract in that, perhaps the black-and-white stripes of the zebra correspond to the black-and-white spots of Chas' dalmatian mice. The black-and-white colors of the mice and the zebra perhaps link Chas and Margot in their mutual dislike of Royal and the way he treated the two of them as children, they both feel ignored or mistreated by Royal who showered his favorite Richie with attention."
The Grand Budapest Hotel, from the POV of the Reader
According to this theory, from a deleted Reddit account, The Grand Budapest Hotel is told from the point of view of The Reader, a theory supported, in part, by other fan theories. The theory goes like this:
"At the beginning of the film, we see a young girl leaving a key at the grave of the author, she sits down on a park bench and begins to re-read the Grand Budapest Hotel, notice how the first shot before the narrative starts is one from her point of view, looking down at the cover of the book. At that point, the narrative begins with the young author (Jude Law) adding narrative to each of his lines (I said, he said , etc..) Reinforcing the idea that the film is from the reader's point of view. When Zero starts telling his story to the author, we switch to Zero's narrative.
Now this is where it gets interesting, throughout the rest of the film, the camera always gives you the illusion that you are actually there, whether assuming the point of view of a character or a separate entity. Some notable examples are the scene where they are stealing the painting: when Zero mentions the look Serge gave him in Madame D's estate: Serge looks directly at the camera, representing that you are looking from Zero's POV, or when Gustave and Zero are returning to the hotel, painting in hand, the camera follows them from behind creating the illusion that you are walking right behind them. When they turn to look in this scene the camera turns as wall, mimicking head movement of somebody actually walking behind them. Another example is in Kovac's death scene, right before he dies, he looks directly at the camera, making eye contact. All of these interactions are deliberate, as they are meant to represent the felling of presence the reader has when reading the book, often assuming the POV of multiple characters.Finally, the art style of the film is also centered around how a reader would imagine the setting. The film consists of many small sets with some exceptions. These sets often capture very picturesque and unrealistic scenarios: such as when Jopling is attempting to kill Gustave and the ice breaks. Scenes like this represent the reader's imagining of the scenario unfolding before her. Other examples include the simplicity and symmetry of the sets: they are simple because the reader only imagines the setting as far as the author exposes it. For example: if the author mentions the elevator being red: the reader imagines the entire elevator being the same shade of red, rather than a more likely mixture of different shades of red. A more notable example of this is Agatha's birthmark: it is only mentioned once by Gustave and otherwise bears no significance. In reality (if the events that unfolded were true) the birthmark would have probably been vaguely shaped like Mexico. But since Gustave mentions that her birthmark is shaped like Mexico, the reader imagines a birthmark very distinctively shaped like Mexico."
Fantastic Mr. Fox, Uncomfortably Aware of His Anthropomorphic Self
There is whole lot of meta that makes a ton of sense in Reddit user Faeriestories Fantastic Mr. Fox theory:
"The theme that most people pick up on in Wes Anderson's film 'Fantastic Mr. Fox' is of Mr. Fox struggling with the conflict between his wild 'natural' fox-self (the sort that would rather be out hunting chickens) and the domesticated newspaper columnist he has essentially been forced to become.
But I think Wes Anderson goes further than that. Anderson makes films that flaunt their artificiality - the viewer never forgets that they are watching a work of fiction. Likewise, I think some of that lucidity towards the artificiality of it all has rubbed off on Mr. Fox. I think he's not just uncomfortable about the idea of being a domesticated fox, but he's mentally conflicted about the prospect of being an anthropomorphic one. He can't quite seem to come to terms with the ridiculousness of being the standard anthropomorphic animal children's character, and as a result he is completely emotionally torn between the human world and the animal one. This disparity between human/beast is captured nicely in various places - such as when he sits down at the table in a civilised manner but then eats his food in about 3 seconds like a ravenous beast. That occurs early in the film and he seems content with life at that point - though even then we get a sense of confusion and indecision about who he is and what sort of creature he's meant to be. He's unable to give an answer to his wife when she says: 'foxes live in holes, right?'The chinks in his composure come later, and this is largely where the wolf motif comes into play. Mr. Fox claims twice to have a 'phobia of wolves', but when he actually meets one he does not appear scared, but instead completely awestruck, and remarks - oddly - that the wolf is a 'beautiful creature'. I think that before this scene Mr. Fox was absolutely eaten up with envy at the wolves for having neatly contained identities - not torn between the human and animal worlds. He has a love of categories (as shown in the 'latin names' scene) and he knows that he straddles the boundary between the fox and human worlds, so he pretends to be phobic of wolves because he does not like to be reminded about the unpleasant truth that he has such a bizarre hybrid identity (which the wolves don't have). However, upon actually seeing a wolf in the flesh, he has some sort of epiphany (the music cue in this scene seems to suggest this I feel) that he is comfortable with his self after all. I'm going to end this post rather lamely by saying that I'm not really sure why this is."
Eli Cash, Illegitimate Son of Royal Tenenbaum
Reddit user Warvanov has an interesting theory about the basis of the relationship between Royal Tenenbaum and Eli Cash in The Royal Tenenbaums.
"Royal had an affair and got a woman pregnant. Either that woman was already his neighbor, or he used his wealth at the time to move her close to him so that he could remain in contact with his illegitimate son. Eli is a near constant presence at the Tenenbaum household, and Etheline merely tolerates him. Either she knows or she suspects that Eli is Royal’s son. That stress, among many of Royal’s other failings, contributes to their eventual separation. Meanwhile, Eli feels like an inadequate second-class Tenenbaum and throughout his life is driven to compete with the success of his half-brothers and adopted half-sister.The basis for the theory is of course that Eli bears a striking resemblance to Richie Tenenbaum. It’s also worth noting that in Anderson’s next film, Owen Wilson plays Ned Plimpton, who believes himself to be the illegitimate son of Steve Zissou."