Wes Anderson’s films are preoccupied with his characters’ and their postmodern cultures’ vexing relations to the material world and nonhuman animals. So clearly central to The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004), these concerns remain a thoroughgoing component of Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009) and Moonrise Kingdom (2012). The films confront us with the question of where and how we draw or unwittingly run up against these boundaries between our fictions, our significantly fictive selves and forms of social life, and the material and nonhuman worlds against and through which they unfold. As characters self-consciously negotiate tenuous, shifting distinctions between the natural, cultural, and technological, they reveal the boundaries between natural and cultural or human and nonhuman domains in contemporary, technologically dense lifeworlds are far from absolute, contrary to what humanism inculcates. Instead, it is through discrepant modes of observing, identifying, and disidentifying with, adhering to, and renegotiating such contingent boundaries between human selves, social systems, and their nonhuman animal and material environments that characters’ life trajectories and social interactions emerge.
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