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The Most Emotional Moments in Wes Anderson’s Movies, Ranked

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Wes Anderson, iconic and unique among directors today, is not known for being explicit with emotion in his movies. The dialogue is often understated and deadpan; the acting can feel overly strict or confined, and the effect can come off as too rigid – but this is deliberate, and has a purpose.

Anderson himself grew up in a wealthier family, and the practice of putting up a wall of social routines between people in life, especially in certain cultural circles, is something he reflects upon, often with his films. So, when these movies do get emotional, it hits especially hard because of that contrast – like the way that light appears brighter when in a very dark room.

Though Anderson has been accused of a lack of emotion in his movies at all, this is simply not the case. His touch is soft and subtle; with such scenes – there are rarely any signs of tears, powerful music, or exuberant displays of emotions. Most of his characters hide how they feel behind rigid, artificial exteriors, masking their feelings with the familiar customs and social norms they surround themselves with.

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Anderson’s emotional scenes hit in a quiet, but unmistakable way that often leaves fans not just emotionally wrecked, but psychologically reflective and deeply moved. The powerful moments he has created in his extensive career linger in the mind long after they are watched, and his movies are some of the most rich and rewarding to re-watch because of this. We pick up on more little things each time, as the beauty and tragedy of the human experience unfolds before us.

So nuanced and understated as they may be, what are the most emotional moments in Wes Anderson’s movies?

Moonrise Kingdom is an epic and beautiful story of young love, which culminates in a foreshadowed storm of the century that strikes a tiny New England island. This movie is one of Anderson’s most ambitious, and is thoroughly praised, coming in as his highest-rated film on Rotten Tomatoes. The sweeping and mighty classical music, combined with the rebellious and heart-warming love story between Sam and Suzy, make it an unforgettable experience.

A powerful storm has been alluded to and predicted throughout the movie. Haunting, orchestral music begins to build along with the beginning of the torrential gale, as Sam and Suzy struggle to escape the adults pursuing them. The climax of the events happens at the same time as the apex of the storm, when both kids climb out onto the roof of a church, desperately trying to escape. The police captain of the island, played by Bruce Willis, follows them out as they climb up to the bell tower. They hold hands and prepare to jump into a raging flood, unsure if they will survive, while Willis ties a rope around his waist and climbs after them. Just as they are about to jump, Willis appears, and offers to let Sam stay in foster care with him personally. Sam looks at Suzy, who nods in approval, and he accepts Willis’ hand.

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