Before watching The Royal Tenenbaums, I listened to the film soundtrack. I didn’t know who was the director of the movie, and I was surprised that he chose "She smiled sweetly", a very rare Rolling Stones song (from 1967 record Between The Buttons), for that movie.
Some time later, I came up with The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. In fact, I watched it after a friend of mine recommended it to me because it had a weird character called Pelé, who played David Bowie songs in Portuguese. So before watching any of Wes Anderson’s movies, I had already got some kind of connection with the humour that this very particular director uses in his movies.
The Tenenbaum’s are a dysfunctional family. As in other Anderson’s movies, the father is a self-centered and selfish person, and so is the mother, but in a more absent-minded and intellectual style. The selfishness of the paternal figure is more concrete, generally based in a particular interest in some personal objective, like taking revenge from a striped shark, or enjoying the comfort of a good economic situation. While on Life Aquatic we have Pelé, on The Tenenbaums we have Pagoda, a brilliant character, of unknown nationality. He is the Sam Gamyi of Royal Tenenbaum, with the difference that he could get upset so much with his boss that he could even stab him with his little penknife. Pagoda is my favourite character of the movie.The three sons deserve, each, a special paragraph:
Margot Tenenbaum is depressive, argumentative, cold, heavy-smoker, and also she has a finger missing. In her intimate relationship’s mental archive there is a very nice kiss with a girl.
Richie Tenenbaum has been all his life in love with Margot, her step sister. He was a great tennis player whose career came to an end in the final match of a prestigious tournament, after he saw her sister, in the middle of the crowd, accompanied by her brand-new husband, Raleigh St Clair, (performed by Bill Murray, one’s of W.A. favourite actors).
Chas Tenenbaum is a “numbers’ man”, with the skills to be in charge of the account books of the family since he was very young. Obsessed with order and tidiness, he has two children and dresses them exactly like himself. He takes excessive care of both after her mother’s death.
I have always found the movie poster always very interesting. It is a classic family portrait with the characteristic esthetics of W.A.Every picture has a selection of the chromatic palette, which is tightly observed in the costumes, the setting and the plot lines that comes in, explaining certain things. He always uses the same typography.
Here’s my explanation of the creative process of the T-shirt, in four steps:
STEP 1In the first design, I wanted to play with the gym outfit that Chas and his sons wear. That’s why I drawed the collar of the gym jacket over the collar of the T-shirt, and the zip all the way down. On the back side I wrote the name, as it usually appears on sport clothes. Besides, it was a good way to include the name of the movie.
On the front side, where club badges usually are placed, I combined the name of the movie, a “dalmatian mouse”, like the ones Chas raises, and the candelabras, which are very present in the graphic aspects of the movie.
In the second design, I included for the first time the image of the family,that will later evolve even more.
In the second design, I got into the relationship between Richie and Margot Tenenbaum, one of the most eccentric moments of the film. The T-shirt is called Strange Love, like the Depeche Mode song. In both options, the characters are facing each other. Richie has his post-tennis player look, when he still had long hair and beard and used a hairband and glasses. Margot uses her typical coat and hairstyle.
STEP 3Green color takes the stage. In one option, I included the film logo, the mouse and the candelabras over a striped background, which refers to the typical wallpaper of the Tenenbaum’s old house. Pink is a very strong color in the official poster of the film.
In the second option, I wanted to play with the figures of the characters, like in Sgt. Pepper’s booklet, in which every character is pointed with a number, and then you have a list of names to know who’s who. I always compared the poster with the cover of that magical record, and I wanted to reflect it in this T-shirt.
I came up with the final image of the T-shirt when I realized that the characters are the strongest aspect of the movie. I chose to show the family portrait through my own eyes. Even more absurd, and without the need of showing their real faces, but insinuate them. Something important to make this T-shirt is that the characters are very different, not only physically but also in terms of personality. I “dared" to include Pagoda, that is not present in the original picture. I liked the idea of closing the image with the dalmatian mouse, the name of the movie and, in the end, tha names of each character.