You know it when you see it. Films such as The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Darjeeling Limited and Moonrise Kingdom all seem to look at life through a similar whimsical, nostalgic, pastel-hued lens. Evolved from a growing fan base of a million followers on Instagram, a new photobook—Accidentally Wes Anderson (AWA)—celebrates the beloved filmmaker’s signature quirky aesthetic with a collection of 200 images from around the world of real-life places that look like scenes straight out of one of Anderson’s films—all captured by a community of his fans.
“There is always something you can’t really put your finger on, but you know it fits perfectly when you see it,” says Wally Koval, the curator and author of AWA. “This is not just a travel book, it is a mood board, an escape hatch from the day-to-day, a moment of delight— and hopefully it inspires adventure and exploration all the same.”
How does the man himself feel about fans accidentally stealing his unique aesthetic? “When he gave us his blessing to move ahead with the project, we were thrilled, but when he saw the finished piece and agreed to pen a few words— reading those few short paragraphs was the perfect stamp of approval,” says Koval about Wes Anderson’s forward in AWA.
“I now understand what it means to be accidentally myself,” says Anderson in the foreword, adding, “I am still confused what it means to be deliberately me, if that is even what I am…”
Step into a world reminiscent of Wes Anderson’s films with these accidentally, or maybe deliberately, taken photos.
Crawley Edge Boatshed, Perth, Western Australia
This The Life Aquatic–inspired blue boatshed is stranger-than-fiction: It’s become the most photographed travel attraction in Perth, with so many selfie-obsessed queuing tourists that in 2019, the city decided to spend $400,000 on a solar-powered toilet facility to serve them.
Hotel Opera, Prague, Czech Republic
You can’t book a room in the Grand Budapest Hotel, a WWII-era Eastern European grand dame from Anderson’s imagination, but you can stay in this close look-alike hotel in Prague. Standing in the “New Town” quarter of Prague, Hotel Opera’s Bohemian Neo-Renaissance facade still welcomes real-life guests today in all its pink-hued glory.
Roberts Cottages, Oceanside, California
Pinks of the past are part of the visual language that Anderson uses to tell his stories in film. This palm-tree lined stretch of rental bungalows evokes the nascent California days when a seaside town enticed visitors with the promise, “Come to Oceanside, where life is worth living.”
Ascensor da Bica, Lisbon, Portugal
While none of Anderson’s movies take place in Lisbon, it is no surprise why this city is reminiscent of the filmmaker’s work, as it feels like a nod to another time. There are three funicular railway cars still used in Lisbon that sit along a backdrop of pastel-colored homes and cobblestone streets that could have been taken from a shot in his films.
Amer Fort, Rajasthan, India
A country that’s known for its pops of color and intricate details, India was one of the main characters in ar, shot mostly in Rajasthan, where this real-life scene was also captured. This royal place and military stronghold built in 1592 holds unexpected wonders inside such as a kaleidoscope of cut glass in a Hall of Mirrors.
Wharf Shed, Glenorchy, New Zealand
Glenorchy is an adventurer’s paradise, and its landscapes are featured in non-Anderson films such as the Lord of Rings trilogy and Narnia. But this red shack that tells visitors they’ve made it is more reminiscent of some of your favorite Anderson scenes with its backdrop of snowcapped mountains and a touch of nostalgia.
White Cyclone, Kuwana, Japan
It’s difficult to forget the edge-of-your-seat toboggan chase scene from The Grand Budapest Hotel peering up at Japan’s White Cyclone. We imagine you’ll be going a lot slower on Japan’s oldest wooden coaster, which is rare in a country with strong regulations on tree felling. This coaster was made with enough timber to build nearly a thousand homes.
Post Office, Wrangell, Alaska
While it appears to be straight out of Anderson’s mind, this scene is no film set. Located on the northern tip of an Alaskan island, Wrangell is home to 3,000 people who love visiting their painted post office—also a necessity, as in these parts there’s no home mail delivery.
La Casa Mínima, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Anderson’s signature touch of humor and strangeness is evoked in this photo of the most narrow house in Buenos Aires. At just over 8-feet wide and 40-feet deep, you’ll have to think creatively to see how anyone could live here. Guided tours of the miniature home are offered, but as AWA says, “Though worth the visit, it’s safe to assume it will not be a prolonged one.”
Green Point Lighthouse, Cape Town, South Africa
In Anderson’s ode to getting lost, Moonrise Kingdom, a red-and-white lighthouse stands on the fictional island of New Penzance. You’ll spot a similar striped one on South Africa’s Cape Town coast; it remains the oldest operational lighthouse in the country.
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