Motifs In The Royal Tenenbaums By Wes Anderson

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The Royal Tenenbaums (2001), a comedy-drama directed by Wes Anderson happens to be a very engrossing movie. Not only because it has an amazing plot, cinematography, appealing characters, sound and a host of other stylistic elements but most importantly, the repetition of these elements (such as props, costumes, sound) with some significance which then become motifs. In the words of Bordwell and Thompson (2013, p.63), “a motif is any significant repeated element that contributes to the overall form. It may be an object, a colour, a place, a person, a sound or even a character trait. Motifs are fairly exact repetitions. Motifs often reappear at climaxes or highly emotional moments.” The fact that a certain element is used more than once does…show more content…
Narration on the other hand “is the moment-by-moment process that guides us in building the story out of the plot” (Bordwell and Thompson 2013, p.87). In the cause of understanding the story out of the plot, Motifs help to make it possible. From the movie, there are quite a number of instances props and costumes were used in different variations and became motifs. Sometimes, it could be difficult to tell which props or customs form patterns as, “less obviously, customs can become motifs” (Bordwell and Thompson, 2013, p.119). Thinking of how props can become motifs, Margot Tenenbaum and Richie Tenenbaum once shared a sleeping bag when younger, specifically when they ran away from home at some point during winter and stayed at the African wildlife wing of the City Public Archives. Later on in the movie, just after Richie came home from the hospital and stayed with Margot in his tent, she asked (as we see in a medium close-up shot; to lay emphasis on their conversation), “this is the sleeping bag we took to the museum, isn’t it?” At that moment, it became obvious it was not any other sleeping bag but…show more content…
In the movie, it is understood that Richie had always had a bird and it was called Mordecai. At some point he decided that birds should not be kept in cages and so he fed Mordecai and then set the bird free. In another scene towards the end of the film, we see how the bird suddenly comes back to Richie and Royal Tenenbaum, although it was a little bit different in terms of its looks. The return of the bird, Mordecai did have me thinking and from my point of view, as vacuous as this might sound, Mordecai really loved Richie Tenenbaum and that is why it did return in the end. Considering the fact that there is a saying that goes, “If you love somebody, let them go, for if they return, they were always yours. If they don't, they never were” (Gibran, n.d.), it kind of explains it all. The return of the bird has been justified, besides, there really is no place like home. “Framings may serve the narrative in yet other ways. Across an entire film, the repetitions of certain framings may associate themselves with a character or situation” (Bordwell and Thompson, 2013, p.193). Another motif I find interesting is what I like to call, “the elevator motif”. In the first frame, as seen in the first picture 3.1, the use of cinematography (framing) creates a motif from the first frame and the second

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