THE FRENCH DISPATCH, the new film from Oscar nominee and visionary filmmaker Wes Anderson, brings to life a collection of stories from the last issue of an American magazine of the same name published in a fictional 20th-century French town. The storyline unfolds in the imaginary town of Ennui-sur-Blasé, evocative of France through the years.
Wes Anderson: “The visual base of the film, the costumes, the sets, everything… it’s all informed by research. Even though it’s a kind of confection and it’s sort of invented stuff with a fantasy element to it, it is basically all grounded by reference.”
An artistic collaboration with Citroën is clear throughout the film. Visiting the Citroën Conservatoire before filming began helped to identify which models would best suit the story, mainly with Traction and Type H. Other Citroën models are also featured in the streets of the typically French town: 2 CV, Ami 6, DS and GS.
ANIMATED CAR CHASE IN A TRACTION
Following the death of the editor of The French Dispatch, a widely distributed American magazine based in the French town of Ennui-sur-Blasé, the team of writers all gather to write his obituary. Memories of the beloved boss flow into four stories making up the film, including “The Private Dining Room of the Police Commissioner”. This part of the film carries overtones of French crime dramas from the 30s, 40s and 50s. At a crucial moment, the real-life images are replaced with an animation reminiscent of French comic books and the town where it was shot, Angoulême, known as the Cartoon Capital of France. The car chase takes place in the symbolic car of that period: the Traction!
CITROËN AND CINEMA
A popular brand for more than a century, Citroën has always had a presence in cinema, with all models of its historic vehicles starring in many a famous scene. The list is long, and these are just some of the ones that have featured in worldwide blockbusters: the 2 CV 007 (For Your Eyes Only, 1981), a special edition produced for the film that celebrated its 40th anniversary this year; the DS from Back to the Future Part II (1989), and the animated film Cars 2 (2011) where DS and 2 CV are reunited and kiss above the Seine! In his film “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou” (2004), Wes Anderson pays homage to Citroën twice: when Professor Zissou’s crew goes to rescue hostages at the Hotel Citroën and when driving around their island base in a Yellow Méhari.