Movies & TV

Everything In Wes Anderson's The French Dispatch Poster, Explained

From nods to the New Yorker and Tintin to subplots buried in the background.
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A new Wes Anderson film means a new Wes Anderson film poster, and the illustration for The French Dispatch by artist Javi Aznarez is a thing of typically Andersonian beauty.

It's a lovely little pastiche of a mid-century magazine cover published by the mag at the heart of the film, also called the French Dispatch. But what does it all mean?

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Let's start with the simple stuff. Up in the magazine offices, there's Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, and Jeffrey Wright. Beneath them, there are characters we might reasonably assume will be the subjects of their articles: Adrien Brody's art dealer; Benicio Del Toro's incarcerated artist and Léa Seydoux, his muse and jailer; and Timothée Chalamet, who'll apparently be a student revolutionary.

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On the other side, Stephen Park's chef and the furiously eating Mathieu Amalric look like another subplot waiting to happen.

Whether all the little vignettes in the background—someone hanging out the back of a Citroen, shooting at police, a blood-splattered butcher, and action around the commissariat and le Café le Sans Blague – will have any bearing on the actual plot of the film remains to be seen, but according to Erica Dorn, the graphic designer for The French Dispatch, you should definitely pay attention to them.

"The movie has a really rich cast of characters and is really dense in terms of storytelling, so the poster also has a lot going on to reflect that. It's packed with tons of little references to the people and places that are in the film," Dorn told It's Nice That. "The flashbulb lettering is based on the signage we designed for the outside of the French Dispatch bureaux."

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At the very least, we'd put a hefty wedge on the shifty, craggy-looking fella marching up the hill being played by Willem Dafoe. There are a few ideas baked into the design of the poster itself too. For one thing, it looks a lot like the Paris that Monsieur Hulot lives in Jacques Tati's 1958 film Mon Oncle.

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If you're behind on your post-war French comedy, Mon Oncle sends up modern architecture and the French middle-class obsession with aesthetics at the cost of anything useful or comfortable. Basically, it's about cherishing a quickly retreating age which is being nibbled away by modernity, which seems pretty apt for a film about print journalism.

Given that the film itself is about a magazine in France which seems to share a lot of its bearing with the New Yorker magazine, there are a few nods to the New Yorker itself too. You'll have clocked the masthead details like edition number and price in the top left and right corners, but it also appears to be based on a real New Yorker cover from 1946. Fortuitously, that cover looks like a location from a Wes Anderson film.

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But that just leaves us with one final mystery: if this is the Frenchest American film ever, what business does the famously Belgian boy detective Tintin have sticking his oar in?

This story originally appeared on Esquire.co.uk. Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.

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