The place Wes Anderson movies ‘by accident’ come to life | Travel
T.Here’s something about Director Wes Anderson’s style that is instantly recognizable. Flawless composition, symmetrical lines, pastel colors, idiosyncratic and strangely seductive sets are hallmarks of films from The Darjeeling Limited to The Grand Budapest Hotel.
But one new photo travel book, Accidentally Wes Anderson, is full of places in the real world that appear (but aren’t) from one of his films. It’s the latest offer from the guy behind the @accidentallywesanderson Instagram account, Brooklyn-based Wally Koval.
Hotel Opera, Prague. Photo: @valentina_jacks
“It started as a travel basket list for me and my wife Amanda in 2017, inspired by images from places around the world that reminded me of a Wes movie,” said Koval. “We posted pictures of our travels, people started to follow, conversations started, ideas were exchanged – the response was phenomenal.”
Today the Instagram account has more than 1.2 million followers who share discoveries worldwide.
Marfa Central Fire Station, Texas. Photo: @emprestridge
Koval’s love for Anderson’s style started young. “I remember my father watching [1998 Anderson comedy] Rushmore and I were intrigued. I love its aesthetics, the symmetry – there’s something strangely calming about it. Everything fits together like a puzzle, but underneath there is always something darker, a chaos in the characters … “
The book contains 200 colorful pictures (cut out of around 15,000 photos with many “arguments and tears”) and the stories behind them that Koval and his team have researched.
Post Office, Wrangell, Alaska. Photo: @health_travels
From Crawley Edge Boatshed on Australia’s Swan River, which was once threatened with demolition by the government and is now the most photographed place in Perth, to the Marfa Central Fire Station in Texas, which was established as a water stop to refill steam engines on the trains between San Antonia and San Antonia, El Paso, which is now run by 17 volunteers, has a story to tell in every building.
Other images from America include the interior of the post office in Wrangell, Alaska, built as part of Roosevelt’s New Deal public works project and decorated with paintings of the “American scene” to soften the austerity of the architecture.
In Europe there is a pink hotel opera in Prague: the building nationalized by the communist regime was unused for decades, but is now a family-run hotel again. In Lisbon, the bright yellow Ascensor da Bica, a funicular built in 1892, is pleasantly framed in a gap between the buildings. Striking images in Asia are the 16th century Amer Fort overlooking Lake Maota in Rajasthan. Guards in white tunics contrast with the ocher wall.
Amer Fort, Rajasthan, India. Photo: @chrsschlkx
“It’s impossible for me to choose a favorite,” said Koval. “It’s always changing. Each level has so many levels – something about a photo might fascinate you, and then you dive further into the stories behind it and there is always more to discover. We had to dig deep to gather the information – we joined a local historical society, infiltrated private Facebook groups, and spent hours calling and faxing distant places! “
Not only is Koval perfect read for armchair travel and an unusual guide book, but it also hopes AccidentallyWes Anderson will inspire people to open their eyes and see the world differently.
Ascensor da Bica, Lisbon’s 19th century funicular. Photo: @jackspiceradams
“We’ve traveled a lot, but we’ve always found that you don’t have to go far to find interesting places. The pandemic has proven this. We couldn’t go to Scotland or Spain as planned, we went to Delaware, which is where Amanda and I are from, and we were overwhelmed by the things we found. “
The ultimate seal of approval came from Wes Anderson himself, who wrote the foreword to the book. “The photos in this book were taken by people I’ve never met, places and things I’ve never seen almost without exception – but I have to say, I intend to. I now understand what it means to accidentally be myself. I’m still confused about what it means to purposely be me when that is who I am, but it doesn’t matter. “
• • Accidentally, Wes Anderson gets published by Wally Koval on October 29th (Trapeze, £ 25). Visit The Guardian Bookshop to order a copy for £ 21.75 including UK postage