Wes Anderson’s “The French Dispatch” is four months away from opening in theaters, but moviegoers can start preparing now by viewing the five French movies the director had his cast and crew watch before the start of production. Robert Yeoman, Anderson’s longtime cinematographer who has shot all of his live-action directorial efforts, shared in a statement that Anderson’s prep work for “The French Dispatch” included putting together “an extensive library of DVDs, books, and magazine articles” for the cast and crew to check out in order to help them “assimilate” into the film’s period setting. “The French Dispatch” cast includes Benicio del Toro, Adrien Brody, Tilda Swinton, Léa Seydoux, Frances McDormand, Timothée Chalamet, and Bill Murray.
Yeoman said Anderson’s film list featured Jean-Luc Godard’s 1962 drama “My Life to Live,” Henri-Georges Clouzot’s 1955 suspense movie “Diabolique,” Clouzot’s 1947 procedural “Quay of the Goldsmiths,” Max Ophüls’ anthology film “Le Plaisir,” and Truffaut’s 1959 French New Wave classic “The 400 Blows.” Anderson often cites “The 400 Blows” as one of the greatest movies ever made, sharing in an interview, “This movie in particular I think was one of the reasons I started thinking I would like to try to make movies.” Yeoman said in a statement these five movies “gave us all the feeling of the French movies of the period, both thematically and stylistically.”
“The French Dispatch” marks the seventh collaboration between Anderson and Yeoman. The cinematographer said he was drawn to Anderson’s new film because of its anthology storytelling. “The French Dispatch” brings to life three different stories, all framed around the staff of an American news outpost in France selecting which stories to republish in their magazine as a tribute to their late editor in chief. “I was immediately drawn to the various stories, each original in its tone and style,” Yeoman said. “The characters and situations held great creative possibilities and I was ready for another adventure.”
Yeoman continued, “Working on a film with Wes is not just limited to what transpires on the set, you are signing up for a life adventure. Whether on a boat in Italy, a train in India, or a small city in France, the experience is all encompassing. Wes has his own unique way of working and often challenges us all to ‘think outside the box.’ Many times he will describe what he wants to shoot and I will think “that’s going to be really difficult,” but somehow we always pull it off. The shooting process itself is rarely easy, but I think that everyone feels that they are part of something special.”
Searchlight Pictures is set to release “The French Dispatch” in theaters July 24.