Two years before Wes Anderson made his feature debut in 1996 with “Bottle Rocket,” the writer/director and frequent collaborator Owen Wilson teamed up on their first short film together. It was about two friends in Texas training to become burglars. They enlist a third companion for a big score and come away from every exploit perpetually pleased with themselves. The film was called “Bottle Rocket.”
Watching this film, it’s hard to believe this is a Wes Anderson production. Shot entirely in black and white, the short features a jazzy score and none of the surreal oddities that have since become Anderson’s trademark. Sure, Owen and Luke Wilson star, as they do in many of the director’s films since—and man, they look young—but this isn’t the Wes Anderson voice audiences have become accustomed to over the past two decades.
None of this is to say that “Bottle Rocket” is an unentertaining short. Don’t get us wrong. It’s incredible how, in the span of just a few years, though, and with the freedom of a feature, Anderson’s aesthetic evolved over the remainder of the 1990s. Four years after this short was made, Anderson hit cinephiles with “Rushmore” and followed that up in 2001 with “The Royal Tenenbaums.” If you look closely, you can spot the seeds of his modern voice in “Bottle Rocket,” but flip it on for a friend and remove the credits, and they might be hard pressed to tell you who the director is.
Watch Anderson’s first short below. [via Open Culture].