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The Student News Site of Capital City High School

The Plume

The Student News Site of Capital City High School

The Plume

Wes Anderson’s Newest Movie: Asteroid City(Spoilers)

I review and summarize the movie, going into depth about the director’s symbolism.

Wes Anderson’s Newest Movie: Asteroid City(SPOILERS)

Asteroid City is the newest Wes Anderson movie which debuted in June 2023. This movie is a perfect example of a classic Wes Anderson film. Bold color schemes, we got them, troubled men with family issues, we got that too. Underlying symbolism throughout the whole movie concerning important issues in the world, yes, absolutely. 

Director Wes Anderson has invented a unique style of filmmaking. Some people love it, some people hate it. This includes his use of bright colors, perfect symmetry and unforgettable characters.  His preference for long takes and descriptive dialogue sets him apart from other directors. You may know his other movies ranging from live action and stop-motion such as: Fantastic Mr. Fox, Rushmore, Grand Budapest Hotel, and many more. 



The film takes place in a small town called, you guessed it, Asteroid City, in 1955, where a meteor impact is the town’s unusual landmark. With the occasional atom bomb tests and numerous vending machines, the city hosts the Junior Stargazer/Space Cadet Convention. 

Asteroid City, Wes Anderson affronta di petto le sue paure, i limiti della sua arte e i tormenti della creazione -
After they broke down. Three daughters(left), Woodrow(middle), and Augie(right).

Our main family, the Steenbecks, are traveling to this convention. The father, Augie Steenbeck(Jason Schwartzman), the son, Woodrow Steenbeck(Jake Ryan), three daughters, and of course, the grandfather, Stanley Zak(Tom Hanks) have all just lost an important family member: Augie’s wife. But of course, he doesn’t tell the children until two weeks after they break down in a desert city in the middle of nowhere.

The rest of the cast is noteworthy as Wes Anderson shows us the people attending the Convention, and some who are not. This includes: Midge Cambell (Scarlett Johnasnson), her daughter Dinah (Grace Edwards), Motel Manager (Steve Carell), three cowboys (Montana), Dr. Hickenlooper (Tilda Swinton), space cadet contestants, elementary school teacher and students, and an alien

The characters meet for the declaration of the winner of the Junior Stargazer/Space Cadet convention. Under the night sky, the crowd comes to experience the alien who takes the meteor. A partially confused stop motion figure who climbs down from his green spaceship. Augie, who is a war photographer, takes a quick photo of the alien as it poses with the meteor. 


Well…the alien came, now what? 



Asteroid City' review: Wes Anderson has outdone himself : NPR
The narrator of the play

I should mention that this whole movie is a play. Wes Anderson cuts back and forth between the “real-world” and the play using black and white colors. He takes this different approach to show us what his movie really means. Not the animated alien with googly eyes but what the alien and the rest of the play embodies.

The alien symbolizes the literal meaning of the struggles of grief and death. Our family in the play has been impacted by the mother’s loss and the alien is the literal meaning of that. The death has turned Augie’s world upside down and he doesn’t know what to do anymore. The alien(death) is not a threat. It takes something, then leaves, and now the world is different, but eventually life proceeds like normal, like it never happened.  Wes Anderson does an actuate job showing us the processes of grief through this alien figure. 

Review: Wes Anderson's new movie Asteroid City is a meditation on fiction and fear - Vox
A Native American army guard and one of the Contestant’s parents about to have a showdown

The film continues, our characters are now contained in the city, protected by the government. What does this alien want? Guards are put up around the town, all communication has been cut off, the government grows strict and paranoid. Anderson uses this to show how the world reacts to new things. This including more symbolism through this government take over(See photo on right).

On the other hand, the school children make songs and art about the alien while the adults fear what this could lead to. Remember, the alien is death, children don’t understand what’s happening, but they accept it with art and songs, while the adults know what the alien’s visit really means and they have to find a right time to say it, but there’s never a right time to tell someone about a loss. 



Asteroid City (+ een introductie tot Wes Anderson) > Slieker
The fair after the alien was confirmed

What happens then? Well word gets out through the cleverness of the Space Cadets. Asertroid City becomes the attraction site of the alien sighting. A fair sets up and people from all over gather to witness the place where an actual alien was confirmed.

Our characters are back at the meteor sight, where they saw the alien the first time. The government is just about to announce the lift of the lockdown they were under when… the alien arrives again. In doing so, he drops the meteor on the ground, then leaves. Everybody goes crazy. 


In real-time, Augie, or the actor that’s acting him, Jones Hall, can’t tell if he’s playing Augie right. The fourth wall breaks and Jones leaves the stage while the rest of the actors flail around him almost like it is the end of the world. He’s concerned. Is Jones, Augie, or is Augie, Jones? 

Asteroid City: Wes Anderson e un incontro ravvicinato di sogno e vita
The writer, Earp(left. The narrator of the play(right)

Earlier in the film, Jones had a romance between the writer of the play, Earp.(This relationship between Earp and Jones can be a whole other story) The writer ends up dying and Jones is left with his written character Augie. Jones is at a loss just as Augie is, but he still can’t understand why. Augie and Jones both lost someone, throughout the movie they deal with their grief in numerous ways. Both peoples have repressed this losses down into their core where there are no words left to be spoken. No script for them to read. There’s never a right time to tell someone about a loss, or maybe it’s yourself as well? 



Wes Anderson has always had deep symbolism in his films, but this one is something conflicting, tragic, and unforgettable. 


“You can’t wake up if you don’t fall asleep.” 


Our characters repeatedly chant that one sentence as the alien comes forth as a dark figure. As I sat in the audience, I felt chills throughout the theater, a silence swept over us like a wave, as we sat watching the fourth wall break above us. 

What does it mean? I questioned that myself as the audience left a tone of seriousness in the atmosphere. Wes Anderson was definitely talking to his viewers as his characters stared into the eyes of his audience. “You can’t wake up if you don’t fall asleep.”

I think he left it up for interpretation. It may be Anderson giving people, who may be struggling with grief, permission to lose themselves in his film; to process their repressed emotions from their loss. You turn off parts of your brain when watching a film, when you wake up, the story will have changed you in some ways. For instance, when you sleep, you may dream, and then wake up refreshed with a new approach to life. 

It could mean a lot of things, but overall his message is a simple phrase that will stick with you for a couple days. You will think about it, question it, and in consequence, live with it. 


The movie resumes. The lockdown has been lifted. There are no more people, but the Steenbecks. And like the start of the movie, Augie gets into his car, and drives away, maybe with a new outlook on life. 


And eventually, life proceeds like normal.



Wes Anderson’s newest movie, Asteroid City, is one of the best films I have watched in a while. It is a comedy, within a tragedy. He will make you question anything and accept everything. He shows you a play full of unforgettable characters and actors. The sets they used were amazing in detail and the film never misses a beat.  If you are looking for a movie you could really sink your teeth into, Asteroid City is the one for you. 


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