Following the 2009 release of Fantastic Mr Fox, Wes Anderson opted to release four more Roald Dahl adaptations, this time in the format of short films. The swan is the second instalment to this quartet, following the release of The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar on September 27th.
This short is narrated almost entirely by Rupert Friend, who plays an older version of the story’s main character, Peter Watson. This is much darker adaptation than the other Roald Dahl’s that most audiences will have watched, or remember from their childhoods.
It tells the tale of Peter, a young and caring boy who is bullied by two older men, one of which has recently obtained a rifle for his birthday. The story focuses on the need to stay strong and use intuition and instinct in dangerous times.
The fast pace of the film makes it more captivating, and audiences are encouraged to listen closely to Peter as he recalls the events from his childhood.
It is often quite chilling, making us fear for Peter’s life at points throughout the film, with multiple edge-of-your-seat scenes, and a very heartbreaking ending.
Wes Anderson’s techniques
The Swan is instantly recognisable as a Wes Anderson film, as we open to Rupert Friend facing the camera, almost stiffly, and beginning to narrate. The first minute or so is shot in one take, as Friend delivers the dialogue in a quick but intense manner, switching accent and tone to differentiate between characters.
The aesthetic is very easily that of the auteur’s, with the yellow gradient reminiscent of his earlier film Moonrise Kingdom. The set design, also a very important factor of any Wes Anderson film, is meticulously crafted. We can see how important set design is from a story telling point of view in this film.
Although only 17 minutes, The Swan is a very powerful story, with the familiar feeling of earlier Wes Anderson films. It is very easy to watch and a story worth knowing, as it is based off of a newspaper account of a real event.
Feature Image credit: Netflix