Before Wes Anderson made his first full-length film, Bottle Rocket, the quirky auteur’s plot-line was auditioned in a short he directed in 1992. Co-written with Owen Wilson (the two shared a play-writing class at UT Austin), the earlier film, also called Bottle Rocket, was a skeleton of their later feature. It’s a heist film, of sorts, but with low-stakes and an offhand narrative styling that keeps it comic and fun. Brothers Owen and Luke Wilson star as partners in crime, and their on-screen sibling chemistry is recognizable from the get-go.
The original Bottle Rocket is more Woody Allen or Jim Jarmusch than anything current fans would recognize as Anderson’s trademark style. His characteristic austere, lyrical dialogue is absent, opting here instead for clamoring and conversational. The high contrast black and white feels about as alien as possible from the warm, golden tones we now associate with his work. And while the short makes ready use of good music, it’s all cool jazz, as opposed to the exotica Bowie covers, Nico and 60’s mod rockers.
Supposedly, Anderson can’t stand to watch the short (even though it was screened at Sundance), but aside from the fact that I think it’s a good little film, it’s fascinating to see someone’s work develop and bloom into something so richly different. Anyway, I like it way better than his Prada perfume commercials.