How Wes Anderson’s symmetry extends to editing

Perfectly balanced, as all things should be.

Youtube screenshot

By Meg Shields Published May 16, 2022

Welcome to The Queue – your daily distraction from curated video content from across the web. Today we’re watching a video essay that explores how (and why) director Wes Anderson uses symmetry in everything from cross-sections to compositions.

We are lucky to have filmmakers like wes anderson. You know, directors who take bold stylistic shifts and kick the current plague of documentary realism to the limit. There is never any doubt that you are watching a Wes Anderson movie. And while there’s certainly a time and place for a middleman like Ron Howard or Joe Johnston (no shades!), it’s refreshing that we get a more expressionistic captain behind the wheel from time to time.

And one of the most recognizable moves in Anderson’s toolbox is his love of compositional symmetry; frames where the subjects are visually balanced.

But if you’re a fan of Anderson’s work, you may have noticed that the director’s interest in mirror-like images extends beyond still frames. As shown in the video essay below, the director’s focus on symmetry is also a key part of how his films are edited. The video focuses on three techniques Anderson uses to imbue his film edits with a sense of balance: (1) identical shot types; (2) blocking and staging, and (3) rhythm and timing.

It can be tempting to dismiss bold aesthetic choices for style’s sake. And Anderson has certainly been accused of being unnecessarily corny. But dissecting the way you mobilize symmetric editing really underscores the method behind the mirroring. From implying deep connections to evoking unique moments of comedy and tension, Wes Anderson’s symmetrical editing is much more than an aesthetic choice. (Although we’d be lying if we said it wasn’t pretty to look at.)

Watch “Wes Anderson Symmetry & Editing Techniques”:

Who did this?

This video essay on mirror editing by Wes Anderson was created by StudyBinder, a creator of production management software that also produces highly informative video essays. They tend to focus on the mechanics of the film itself, from staging to plots and directing techniques. You can check his YouTube account here.

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Related Topics: Cinematography, The Tail

Meg Shields is the humble farmer of your dreams and a main contributor to Film School Rejects. She currently runs three columns at FSR: The Queue, How’d They Do That? and Horrorscope. She is also the curator of One Perfect Shot and a freelance writer for hire. Meg can be found yelling about John Boorman’s ‘Excalibur’ on Twitter here: @TheWorstMonja. (She she).

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