To set the stage for “The French Dispatch,” writer-director Wes Anderson and production designer Adam Stockhausen had to create the entire town of Ennui, the fictional setting where a team of journalists puts together the final issue of the title publication. “We were just looking at a lot of reference and a lot of imagery of what this town could be, how to make it, what the different areas of the town could look like,” explains Stockhausen. We talked with him as part of our “Meet the Experts” Production Designers Panel. Watch our exclusive video interview above.
The film begins with Herbsaint Sazerac (Owen Wilson) introducing us to the town, which was “a great way to kind of get our arms around what this place was going to be.” That’s followed by three other stories set in the offbeat locale. “The Concrete Masterpiece” follows a convicted killer (Benicio Del Toro) who wows the art world from prison. “Revisions to a Manifesto” tells the story of a student uprising led by Timothee Chalamet. And “The Private Dining Room of the Police Commissioner” is supposed to be a profile of a master chef within the police force, but turns into a dangerous kidnapping plot.
“There are different things in each one,” Stockhausen says about the unique elements in each segment, like a tableau against a “painted forced perspective background” in “Masterpiece” and a cell animation chase sequence in “Private Dining Room.” “But overall we kind of dealt with it as consecutive, different, small films, but done with the same team and done with the same style because we really did want it all to feel like stories that take place within the same town that do have a lot in common with each other. So we wanted that commonality.”
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