Viewings of trailers, synopses and screenshots have already driven most to dub the film a “love letter to journalists,” and it’s clear to see why — Anderson’s film is set at an outpost of an American newspaper in a fictional 20th-century French city. The film brings to life three stories published in the eponymous The French Dispatch inspired by real stories Anderson read from The New Yorker, a magazine Anderson’s said to love.
“It’s about an American journalist based in France [who] creates [a] magazine. It’s more of a portrait of this man, of this journalist, who fights to write what he wants to write,” Anderson said when describing the plot of the film in an interview with a French publication. “It is not a film about freedom of the press, but when you talk about reporters, you also talk about what’s going on in the real world.”
One of the three storylines centers on the May ’68 student occupation protests, inspired by Mavis Gallant’s two-part article “The Events in May: A Paris Notebook.” Another storyline featuring Adrien Brody’s character of Julien Cadazio is based on “The Days of Duveen,” a six-part feature in The New Yorker on art dealer Lord Duveen.
As a journalism major, I’ve spent time dissecting pieces of influential journalism. In class, we break down these pieces and talk about what did and did not work and disseminating that with what was and was not written to fulfill the needs required to ethically complete the act of journalism: being a storyteller, poised on shining a light on the truth and doing so in a way that can, to a certain degree, spotlight, empower communities who have otherwise not been represented justly.
All this is what Anderson is setting out to do in “The French Dispatch,” he’s casting a light on the actual work done by real journalists with the intent of spotlighting the very people those real-life journalists aimed to report on in the first place.
The fact that the film’s three stories are inspired by actual events/stories published by a real magazine shows Anderson’s love for the medium. And because it’s Wes Anderson, you can already expect his signature framing, set design and color scheme to make the film that much more aesthetic and marvelous to watch.
These past couple of years have genuinely been most harmful to journalists. With their work labeled as bias or “fake news,” it’s been challenging for most of them to do their jobs. It is especially true when what they say is constantly being scrutinized and delegitimized, which is particularly harmful when most of them are simply trying to carry out their duties.
Point being, we need more films to bolster the work being done by journalists, as they deserve their fair share of recognition after years of misrepresentation and politicization. With his signature auteur style and a stellar cast, Wes Anderson has notably signed up to attempt to carry out this task. Now, it’s our turn to see if we can appreciate the same love for journalism that he’s already shown to have.
Wes Anderson’s “The French Dispatch” will star Benicio del Toro, Adrien Brody, Tilda Swinton, Léa Seydoux, Frances McDormand, Timothée Chalamet, Lyna Khoudri, Jeffrey Wright, Mathieu Amalric, Stephen Park, Bill Murray and Owen Wilson.
It will arrive in theatres on October 22, 2021, following a premiere screening at the 59th New York Film Festival.