The French Dispatch: the Art of Journalism

The Hallmark of Wes Anderson

As a film about the art of journalism, the crowd fulfills the first minutes of The French Dispatch. However, the introduction of so many journalists working in a fictional magazine titled the film’s title based on The New Yorker magazine stifled it. The film itself turns out to be a magazine, regardless of the audience trying to understand and swallow all the information delivered repeatedly. It is also the hallmark of Wes Anderson, easy to recognize, and likes to capture images that he has arranged to fill the frame. His films have always been like paintings, less precise, but more like dioramas of miniature buildings or scenes that Anderson pulled straight from the fantasy in his head.

He then fills his world with so many characters to load into a no less unusual structure. The charm of Wes Anderson’s films is that it is difficult to imitate the unique perfection. However, even though his visuals are good and fun for the audience to see, often his films are difficult for the audience to follow. Many characters have various backstories; they all talk fast without much time for the audience to digest. He was leaving the audience in a hurry to “pick up” various materials, figure out the structure, and find out what happened to the story and behind it.

The Rubrics of The French Dispatch

Such hardship is an experiential art of journalism from watching The French Dispatch. Several short stories split the film. However, that does not necessarily make it an ordinary anthology because the rubric or article in the magazine refers to the short story. Complete with the title, article’s author, and other information that the audience usually encounters on magazine pages. The rubrics can be in the form of culinary, politics, art, and local cultural travel.

The context of the narrative in the film is that the French Dispatch magazine is in mourning. Their editor died suddenly. They were leaving a will that this magazine will be closed. So, the journalists gathered for the last issue of the magazine. The article, which later became the film, was the last writing of several journalists prepared to be published. At the end of the film, the audience will see them all conferring to write an obituary for the editor.

The Definition of Clickbait

The common thread of stories is simply that the character is an article visualized for the audience to watch. It is an article from a magazine that will no longer be published. Therefore, watching the film will feel discontinuous. There is no prize as well. Apart from watching how the writings of “fictitious” journalists are read to the audience, however, that does not mean that the film will be empty. Wes Anderson rarely does work that is not personally related to him. With The French Dispatch, it is clear that the director’s respect and passion flow, not only for the art of journalism, which is fading away in the modern world, but also for French culture. Online media have replaced magazines: the process method and writing, even a completely different concept.

In the modern era, articles and news are more concerned with speed. Publishing first means the possibility of many views being bigger and more concerned with heading titles from the articles and news. Therefore, it is no longer surprising that now, people see bombastic titles which, when clicked on, the contents are only five lines at most, broken down into various pages, with the content in the form of information that does not contain anything other than an outline of events and the date of the incident. The film shows that writing articles used to be not that simple. Reporting something is also an art, and that the most important thing should be to produce something that can be read, followed, and contains important but detailed information.

The Art of Storytelling

The definition of storytelling as art is when such art can make anything easy to reach the audience, readers, listeners, and viewers. When journalism meets these aspects, the article being reported becomes more immersive. The world of journalism and its society understands this very well, and The French Dispatch brings audiences to that world. Personally, the film is very relatable in changing a mindset to try to be in line with the understanding carried by the film. When conveying something, it must tell a story but do not escape the rules of writing, which depend on various writers.

Later, it will become a trademark of an article itself. Wes Anderson writes a storytelling article. It looks easy to do. However, it is not. People would still do it if it were easy, and modern journalism will not turn into gossip. The film is enjoyable; it is interesting to see how the director visualizes magazine rubrics into an anthology. He makes the article’s author the main point of view and makes the subject of the article the main character.

The Exhibition

Apart from the role of a journalist (in other words, a vlogger for millennial languages) who is the central character of short stories about local culture articles, Owen Wilson is the unique star of all articles. From his bicycle, he visited places while telling stories directly to the audience, speaking directly to film cameras. Audiences can see him traveling articles whose authors will “move around” places, narrating them one by one. Therefore, film critics often say that Anderson’s approach to French antiquity is this. He plays around so that the visuals are beautiful but comical to the audience. Apart from being placed at the beginning, it is also used to explain later where the film is, namely the fictional city of Ennui-sur-Blasé, which means “boredom-on-apathy.”

The second article tells the story of Benicio del Toro, who became a convicted murderer with an extraordinary talent for painting. His muse or model is a female warden who, at the same time, also becomes his lover. The story ended coolly when one of the characters asked to paint for an exhibition does something surprising to his paintings. It is easiest to enjoy where its happenings and motivations are clear. The part that comes from the art exhibition article alludes to many things, about the exploitation in art and the hidden talent hidden by one small thing.

The Chairman of Manifesto and the Chef

The third article is one of the hilarious articles. The article deals with political records which reference real journalistic reports in the history of The New Yorker. When outsider writers get into trouble so that their writing may not be as neutral as it should be, the part starring Timothée Chalamet and Frances McDormand is presented humorously but not seriously. For example, the political case was made as a protest by students who wanted boys to go to girls’ dormitories.

The later negotiations involved Chalamet as chairman of the manifesto playing chess with the government separately. However, as comedy functions, this section includes a lot of symbolism and sarcasm. The last article is an interview by Jeffrey Wright with a chef who chose to work in prison until he later became involved in handling a kidnapping case. The audience watched the article in the form of a talk show with snippets of scenes told by the chef, being the part that had the most action, difficult to digest, and took time to become an animation in specific parts.

A Love Letter to Journalism

Anderson brewed scene after scene unmitigated. He also uses color to differentiate perspective further. The audience will see the same scene; the film will change color from black and white to colorful, adding visual uniqueness. Regardless of which, the audience becomes difficult to follow the film with various characters, colors, and absurd humor. However, there should be no reason to be sleepy or bored when watching the film, even with that many creations.

The French Dispatch and the art of journalism do not care if it is easy to digest or not. It is to be its love letter to the art journal that has disappeared. All of its attention is devoted to creating a world that is boredom on apathy. The characters and comedy will not directly connect with the audience; they are mobilized to make the film a visual magazine with a barrage of stories.


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