Wes Anderson Surrealism on an Italian Ferry

Wes Anderson’s movies have such a unique and recognisable aesthetic that some landscapes, people or even moments have the perfect Wes Anderson ratio of ingredients to propel you into thinking you might actually be in one of his movies. The Guardian describes this ‘look’ as Anderson’s ‘precise composition, use of symmetry and detailed colour palette… matching a dedication to, and perhaps even preoccupation with, meticulously selected costumes, sets, locations and soundtracks’. When these things come together in reality, as they did on our journey from the Croatian city of Split to Ancona in Italy, you almost feel a need to pinch yourself.

Firstly, our ferry was delayed in almost comical style, with hoards of queues and people arranging themselves into their nationalities, all huffing impatiently to sit down. We finally made it on to the boat itself: a huge passenger ferry complete with winding stairwells, deep red carpets and a smooth bar/lounge area and roof deck, with just a small barrier between you and the open sea. The fight for available seats soon began, and T and I set up camp on the edge of the lounge.

As time passed, the staff in little burgundy waistcoats began pouring drinks and setting up the stage, because if we had looked closer, a microphone and glittery booth held the clues of our oncoming torture. For the next 4 hours we listened as Italians took turns at Europop karaoke, warbling their hearts out. While everyone else looked on in complete normalcy, we struggled to conceal our peals of laughter.

the burgundy horror downstairs was a direct mashup of Life Aquatic and The Grand Budapest Hotel

Taking turns to break, we found the piece-de-resistance on the top-deck, painted bright blue and complimenting the perfect sky. The juxtaposition between this serene scene: the blue-ness for miles around and the few carefully selected characters (a sunbathing Italian Stallion, a sheepdog and old lady with large sunglasses), and the burgundy horror downstairs was a direct mashup of Life Aquatic and The Grand Budapest Hotel.

The contrasting pallets, dated décor, Italian narration, staff outfits and echo of Europop, with Anderson’s classic branch of subtle humour, poking fun at human nature, our 12 hours on the Ancona ferry felt like an eternity in an Anderson universe. It was a true experience of Anderson’s ‘extraordinary, immersive worlds at once impossibly surreal and yet deeply human’ (The Guardian).


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