Beautiful And Barking Mad: Wes Anderson's 'Isle of Dogs' Is the Tonic the World Needs
Tons of rubbish dumped offshore, children standing up to adults in power, political corruption, the scapegoating of society's most vulnerable and even a suspicious poisoning: the metaphors for modern day come thick and fast in Wes Anderson’s new film Isle of Dogs.
But just as you sit back in your seat and brace yourself for some heavy-handed allegories, a fortune telling pug named Oracle reminds you this is a film primarily out to delight and entertain—and all the better for it.
In the director's second stop-animation feature after 2009's Fantastic Mr. Fox, we're airdropped into the fictional Japanese city of Megasaki 20 years in the future, where the dog population has become infected with an epidemic of snout fever. The corrupt Mayor Kobayashi exiles all canines to the garbage-filled Trash Island where they roam in packs, fight over maggot-infested food and lament the glory days of sleeping on lamb's wool beanbags and chowing down on Puppy Snaps.
One such hound is Spots, the guard dog of 12-year-old Atari who is left in the care of his uncle— the aforementioned Mayor—after his parents died in a bullet train accident. In keeping with Anderson’s love of dysfunctional families and their adventures, Atari sets off for Trash Island in a tiny plane and enlists the help of a pack of pooches to help him find his best friend.
As ever with Anderson, it’s an A-list cast that makes up the human and dog populations. The barks, rendered into English, come from the likes of Bryan Cranston, Liev Schrieber, Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson, Edward Norton, Greta Gerwig and (a somewhat underused) Harvey Keitel.
It’s also a return to puppetry, the instruments Anderson used for his Roald Dahl adaptation. This production is, somehow, even more meticulous, with 70 of the 670 person crew working on the puppets used to create stop-motion animation, a process which creates the illusion of movement between frames.
This story originally appeared on Esquire.co.uk.
* Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.