Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dog shines a new light on man’s best friend

Steven Moreno
Technews Writer
Sat Apr 14, 2018

Over the March and April of 2018, Wes Anderson’s newest sleeper hit, "Isle of Dogs" has been slowly gathering the attention of audiences across movie theaters in Chicago. The slow and gradual release of the film was noted by many moviegoers who turned up on the movie’s release day only to learn that the film was not yet being shown. This is not unusual for films made by the acclaimed director, who typically has his films shown at film festivals or contests before being released to chain movie theaters that cater to the public.

Wes Anderson’s newest film is his second to be completely animated after the critically acclaimed "Fantastic Mr. Fox" in 2009 and utilizes several animation techniques that are unique to the director such as stop motion animation which uses highly intricate puppets and detailed backdrops that are not typically seen due to the time-consuming nature of this animation method. It has been reported that the film, with a run time of 101 minutes, took over four years to complete. This run time makes "Isle of Dogs" the longest stop motion film ever made, breaking the record previously held by Henry Selick’s 2009 film "Coraline" by just one minute. One may not assume a minute to be enough of a difference for the film to claim the record but because it takes and entire day of shooting to obtain less than three seconds of usable film, this single minute of extra film time becomes all the more important to determining the record holder.

This extremely long production time, despite being extremely costly, did provide the production crew ample time to get numerous A-list celebrities onto the project. These celebrity voice actors included Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Jeff Goldblum, Greta Gerwig, Frances McDormand, Liev Schriber, Scarlett Johansson, Tilda Swinton, F. Murray Abraham, and Yoko Ono. In addition to these well-known Western celebrities, Wes Anderson also ensured that several Japanese voice actors were also present in the film such as Ken Watanabe, Akira Takayama, Koyu Rankin, and Mari Natsuki to name a few.

"Isle of Dogs" depicts an all too familiar storyline in both a new setting and viewpoint. Because the story takes place in a futuristic Japanese metropolis, a complication arises in telling the story as the director leaves the dialogue of the humans in the movie untranslated and often without obvious subtitling. To get around this obvious language barrier, the director and animators utilize clever methods to get across the point being expressed by those speaking languages other than English, such as having characters who speak fluent English in the film translate verbatim what others say in their native tongue. The only characters who have their voices dubbed over are the dogs themselves, as humans both in the film and in the audience have difficulty understanding the dog’s language of barking.

The work and effort that has been devoted to this film clearly shows as the film has received critical acclaim and is being regarded as one of Wes Anderson’s finest works yet. This film shows just how far some of us will go to save man’s best friend and just how far they are willing to go for us.

Appears in
2018 - Spring - Issue 13