Rushmore has a Legacy

Cinephilic teenagers of the 1960s had The 400 Blows, Breathless, Dr. Strangelove; cinephilic teenagers of the 1970s had Harold and Maude, Chinatown, Taxi Driver; cinephilic teenagers of the 1980s had Repo Man, Blue Velvet, Stranger than Paradise; cinephilic teenagers of the 1990s had Rushmore.

I enjoyed reading Colin Marshall explanation of what Wes Anderson’s Rushmore meant/means for film .

Eleven years on from Rushmore‘s release, Anderson’s detractors have unfairly (but not wholly groundlessly) labeled him a shallow, finicky production design fetishist fatally attached to a dwindling stable of pet themes; a 2007 Onion headline sardonically heralds that a new Wes Anderson film features “Deadpan Delivery, Meticulous Art Direction, Characters With Father Issues”. He has defended himself, and articulately so, as merely a craftsman who understands and accepts what he wants to make and thus looks to improve with each iteration rather than to diversify for the sake of diversification, much as a cabinetmaker seeks to produce a superior cabinet on each job instead of, say, a shoe rack just for the hell of it. (In this, he’s very much the artistic cousin of the criminally under-recognized Sang-soo Hong.) Should he deny the accusations of deadpan delivery, meticulous art direction and characters with father issues? He shouldn’t, and in any case probably couldn’t. Admirably, he owns them.


Rushmore has, after countless viewings over more than a decade, revealed its imperfections: it gets too plotty, especially around the Max-Blume rivalry; the ending’s a bit neat; many sequences use thirty shots where one would have done. But time has not diminished its aesthetic and human richness, nor the refreshing boldness of its willingness to simply be itself, a work that exists on its own terms without dictating them to the audience. Walter Benjamin once wrote that all great works of literature dissolve a genre or found a new one. Though of a different medium, Rushmore is indeed a great work and thus does the former, the latter or quite possibly both. But, much more importantly, it was the first film ever to feel as if it were made for me. And I’m hardly alone in the sentiment.


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