Wes Anderson’s Softbank Commercial (2008)

There’s a curious phenomenon within the international world of commercials whereby hyper-famous American celebrities appear in spots that only air in foreign markets.  Sofia Coppola’s 2003 film LOST IN TRANSLATION shed a little light on this phenomenon, basing a major plot point on Bill Murray travelling to Tokyo to pose for a series of whiskey advertisements.  The appeal of doing foreign spots is understandable– celebrities get a huge payday for a small amount of work, they get to travel to exotic locales, and, perhaps best of all, nobody they know will ever see it!  One of the best instances of this real-life phenomenon is a campaign that Japanese telecommunications giant Softbank created in 2008.  I use the word “campaign” loosely, as I’m really only aware of two spots within this idea, and even then the only connecting tissue between them is the presence of Brad Pitt.  David Fincher directed one spot, while Wes Anderson directed the spot embedded above.  The general idea behind these two spots seems to be a bizarro, highly-exaggerated rendition of what Japanese culture perceives these two auteurs’ visual styles to be.

Anderson’s spot pays homage to the films of Jacques Tati, and features Brad Pitt bouncing around a series of vignettes outside of a small French town.  The piece is executed in one continuous shot, with the camera whip-panning and dollying around to unveil each successive tableau.  This approach is consistent with Anderson’s history of using camera movement instead of editing to change perspectives within his scenes.  His tendency to create eccentrically-dressed characters is evidenced in Brad Pitt’s canary-yellow outfit.  Anderson’s Europhilic affectations are present in the trappings of a rustic French village while the timeless quality of his work is reflected in the various props, costumes and vehicles that belong to no specific era in particular.

While the presence of a troop of boy scouts foreshadows his 2012 feature MOONRISE KINGDOM, the cartoonish exaggeration of Anderson’s aesthetic here predicts a much more imminent project:  the stop-motion animated FANTASTIC MR. FOX (2009).