Books on Film: Moonrise Kingdom

Moonrise Kingdom: title page

Soo.. I just watched Moonrise Kingdom on Friday night. Directed by Wes Anderson, it centers around two loner preteens who decide to run off into the wilderness together. This sets off a hunt by the local community. Quirkiness abounds, and everything is filmed with deliberation and general loveliness.

Perhaps it’s because the story’s protagonists are twelve, and Moonrise Kingdom is set during a summer in 1965, when kids are at camp or reading books and listening to records at home, but I was stuck by how much this movie evoked a sense of nostalgia. It’s a weird sort of nostalgia though. Everything is made up. Essentially, it’s a nostalgia for something that never existed.

Suzy reads from Shelly and the Secret Universe

My favorite props have to be the books that twelve-year-old Suzy Bishop (Kara Hayward) read. Of course, it would be the fictitious books with titles like Shelly and the Secret Universe and awesome old-style covers that stoked this book nerd’s sense of nostalgia.

Moonrise Kingdom: Suzy's suitcase of books

These are my books. I like stories with magic powers in them. Either in kingdoms on Earth or on foreign planets. Usually I prefer a girl hero, but not always.

Suzy reads The Francine Odysseys by Gertrude Price

Suzy: I always wished I was an orphan. Most of my favorite characters are. I think your lives are more special.
Sam: I love you, but you don’t know what you’re talking about.

There are six books in this movie, and I took screen caps of them all. But did you know, not only did Wes Anderson have artists make book covers, and wrote passages that are attributed to each book, but there are also animations for each book? According to the Internet, Anderson considered putting the animations in the movie, but instead used them in a promotional short. It is quite awesome and worth a watch.

Sam: These are all library books. In my school you’re only allowed to check-out one at a time. Some of these are going to be overdue.

Sam hesitates. He suddenly realizes something. He asks bluntly:

Sam: Do you steal?

Silence. Suzy nods reluctantly. Sam looks confused.

Sam: Why? You’re not poor.

Suzy stares at the books. She absently brushes some dust off them. She rearranges them slightly. She says finally:

Suzy: I might turn some of them back in one day. I haven’t decided yet. I know it’s bad. I think I just took them to have a secret to keep. Anyway, for some reason, it makes me feel in a better mood sometimes.

Suzy reads The Girl From Jupiter by Isaac Clarke

Suzy reads Disappearance of the Sixth Grade by Burris Burris

Suzy reads from The Light of Seven Matchsticks by Virginia Tipton

Suzy reads from The Return of Auntie Lorraine by Miriam Weaver

11 thoughts on “Books on Film: Moonrise Kingdom

    • I’m not sure I loved this one as much as some of Anderson’s other films, but the dreamy look-into-the-past quality I liked quite a bit. Loved the book bits!

    • I am sure that my particular take on Moonrise Kingdom was informed by my suddenly becoming a widower and my difficulty in deciding what is real and what can be imagined away. The film is loaded with brilliant gag sites, and are probably recorded elsewhere, but the copy (narrative) of Suzy’s books, and the brilliant soundtrack selections from Benjamin Britten became a cinematic Rorschach test, suggesting something more profound, at least in the mind of this viewer. I recalled being vexed by a Bruegel painting, “The Village Wedding” back in fifth grade – it was presented as a seen merriment but it had a cast of foreboding. I later learned that the action was course and violent and related a very unhappy time for the Flemish people. That says more about me, I suppose.

  1. Ahh I want to watch this movie!! I hear it is is just beautiful and I missed it while it was in theaters around here. I am definitely going to pick it up now that I see how bookish it is! :]

  2. I’m so glad that you posted about these, Janice!! I loved this movie, and especially her fictional books, but i never saw the previews of them! I would have totally read these books had I found out they were real after watching this movie. I love Wes Anderson, but this one ranks up there with Life Aquatic and Royal Tenenbaums for me, I absolutely adored it.

    • My favorites are The Royal Tanenbaums, and Fantastic Mr. Fox. 🙂 Aren’t the animations cool? I wouldn’t have known about it without googling about the books. Maybe it’s also an extra on the DVD – I couldn’t tell you, I rented and the rental locked off the extras.

      • What?! That seems silly. This was one of the few movies I went and saw in the theater last year. I liked Fantastic Mr. Fox too–the possum always makes me laugh. 😛

        • I don’t know why they do that either. They don’t want you to rent instead of buy? Think renters will pirate and therefore lets give them less to copy? Let me tell you – makes me want to buy the DVD less.

          I own the Fantastic Mr. Fox DVD though!

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