An interesting thought and a diverting question for Wes Anderson came to me during this afternoon’s Fantastic Mr. Fox press conference (held inside the Dorchester Hotel’s grand ballroom) but moderator Dave Gritten shut things down before I had a chance to ask it. So I followed the talent — Anderson and voice actors George Clooney, Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman, etc. — into a reception room and popped it straight to Wes.
“The great malady or affliction of modern cinema,” I said, “is conspicuous CG because all conspicuous CG, in the end, is essentially the same visual effect. The ultimate example of this today is Roland Emmerich‘s forthcoming 2012. Emmerich-styled CG distracts and dazzles, but it’s finally monotonous because it’s all one big digital maul, and so your eyes can’t trust it and in fact immediately reject it, resulting in a certain kind of emotional removal and cynicism.” (Inconspicuous or invisible CG is another matter entirely, and is often glorious.) “Werner Herzog has said the same thing, that perhaps the biggest challenge facing filmmakers today is to persuade audiences to trust their eyes again.
“And the thing I like the most about Fantastic Mr. Fox,” I continued, “is that even though it’s fanciful fakery, it’s fakery you can trust because it was made the old-fashioned organic way with stop-motion photography — the same technique that was used by Willis O’Brien and Merian C. Cooper in the making of the original King Kong — and is therefore, in the realm of movies about unreal things, selling something that is totally and honorably divorced from the 2012 aesthetic. So it’s entirely true and fair to call Fantastic Mr. Fox the anti-2012.”
Wes’s first response was, “What’s 2012?” Oh, you know…it’s that Roland Emmerich end-of-the-world movie, I said. Worldwide destruction, CG up the wazoo, coming out next month. “Gee, I haven’t heard of that one,” he said. “But yeah…it sounds like we’re the anti-2012.”