(press kit): The Royal Tenenbaums press kit - (c)
2001 Touchstone Pictures.
(commentary): The Royal Tenenbaums Criterion
Collection DVD commentary track by director Wes Anderson - (c)
2001-2001 Criterion Collection and Touchstone Home Video.
The entire film is steeped in some kind of
New York literary history,” Anderson explains, noting that many of the characters in the movie,
their personalities, temperaments, habits, and emotional exploits, could have easily come off
the pages of the New Yorker magazine as it existed in a bygone
era (press kit).
like Joseph Mitchell, A. J. Liebling, Lillian Ross, J. D. Salinger,
John O’ Hara, E. B. White, James Thurber, all of them provided
inspiration for the film in ways I’m not completely conscious of. In
recent years, I’ve read in backdated New Yorkers various profiles of people you
never heard of -- intelligent, eccentric, unconventional personalities,
the kind of profiles they don’t write anymore -- and these profiles and
personalities have also influenced me." In fact, Anderson grew up
reading the New Yorker, and has every issue of the magazine from the past 40 years in his
office (press kit).
But the New Yorker and its world is not the only source of inspiration for the new film. "I also
read a lot of Kaufman and Hart," Anderson says, referring to playwrights George S. Kaufman and
Moss Hart, "including their play, ‘You Can’t Take It With
You’" (press kit).
Hart’s autobiography Act One,
as well as Hart and Kaufman themselves are also influences, as are
stories by F. Scott Fitzgerald, plays and journalism by S.N. Berhman,
and Louis Malle’s "The Fire Within." As well as literary inspirations,
there were a number of personal inspirations that Anderson drew on in
creating the world of the Tenenbaums (press kit).
idea of living in a museum (Margot and Richie camped out in the
African wing of the Public Archives, surviving on crackers and
root beer) is from The
Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E Frankweiler (commentary).
Eli Cash is specifically referred to as the "James Joyce of
the West" in the film, he is inspired, in many ways, by Cormac
McCarthy and Jay
MacInerney (commentary). “Eli is this Cormac McCarthy knockoff,” he
says, “A guy who grows up in the city and writes novels about the west - what if Custer hadn’t died
at Little Big Horn, that kind of thing. And for him, just like for the Tenenbaums, success doesn’t
necessarily translate into happiness. Having a hit novel doesn’t make him a
Tenenbaum” (press kit).
St. Clair is partially inspired by Oliver W. Sacks, who wrote
the book Awakenings
has commented that the New York of The Royal Tenenbaums is
one where profiles of ordinary people are published in the New
and Margot's love story is largely based on Jean-Pierre
Melville's film Les
Enfants Terrible. The idea for the yellow tent inside
the Tenenbaum house is also inspired partially by this film.
asserts that the "blood and guts" realism of Richie's
suicide (attempted, anyway) was influenced by Robert Altman's
extraordinarily film M*A*S*H, in which the director
refused to "sugar coat" the gore of the Korean War
(cough, cough, Vietnam) despite the nature of the film (comedy,
Tenenbaum's "uniform" is based on that of Bjorn Borg.
The "look" of the tennis match between Richie and
Gandhi is based on the 1977 U.S. Open finals, in which Guillermo
Vilas defeated Jimmy Connors (commentary). They filmed the scene
at Forest Hills Stadium, where the U.S. Open was held.
The picture of
Eli on the cover of the Sunday Magazine Section was
inspired by Richard Avedon's "In the American West."
Parodied in The
Eli exits the Tenenbaum home by means of Margot's window, Royal
shouts, "I know you, asshole!" This line is
"borrowed" from the film Witness, as Harrison
Ford confronts Danny Glover (Henry Sherman in The Royal
Tenenbaums) after being shot (commentary).
scene in which Henry walks up the stairs to confront Pagoda is
modeled on a similar scene from Suspicion, in which Cary
Grant marches up a staircase (Wes Anderson notes that the Tenenbaum
staircase was too short) (commentary).
the epilogue, Owen Wilson (Eli Cash) improvised: "The
wind's blowin' up a gale today." Wes Anderson notes that he
"improvised" the same line in Behind Enemy Lines (in
which he, incidentally, co-stars with Gene Hackman)
Anderson has cited the work of Michael Powell and Emeric
Pressburger, particularly in The
Red Shoes, in inspiring the title sequence (commentary).
Royal Tenenbaums was greatly influenced by The
Magnificent Ambersons, Orson Welles' second film. As the
opening sequence of the Anderson film (featuring the muzak cover
of "Hey Jude") features a narrator telling the history
of the Tenenbaum family, a narrator relays the history of a town
and then of the Amberson clan in Welles' film (commentary).
Wes Anderson has cited "old movies" as his inspiration
for displaying the Tenenbaum players names on the screen, he has
specifically cited Death
Takes a Holiday as his primary inspiration
Rachael Tenenbaum only appears briefly (and early) in the film,
director Wes Anderson has indicted the necessity of her image
remaining strong in the viewer's mind. He has cited the film Paris,
Texas and the appearance of Nastassja Kinski in a
similar manner (commentary).
The scene where Royal informs Ethyl "I'm
dying" is partially inspired by an episode of The
Rockford Files (according to Wes Anderson) (commentary).
Sherman is the name of Wes Anderson's landlord (c. 2002)
going to kill myself tomorrow" is a line from Louis Malle's
Le Feu Follet.
Suite," the original score song by Mark Mothersbaugh that
plays as each of the adult children are introduced, is based on
a piece by George Enescu (commentary).