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Moonrise Kingdom

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Moonrise Kingdom

Moonrise Kingdom
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Wes Anderson
Produced by Wes Anderson
Scott Rudin
Steven Rales
Jeremy Dawson
Written by Wes Anderson
Roman Coppola
Music by Alexandre Desplat
Cinematography Robert Yeoman
Edited by Andrew Weisblum
American Empirical Pictures
Indian Paintbrush
Distributed by Focus Features
Release dates
  • May 16, 2012 (2012-05-16) (Cannes)
  • May 25, 2012 (2012-05-25) (United States)
Running time 94 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $16 million[2]
Box office $68,263,166[2]

Moonrise Kingdom is a 2012 American film directed by Wes Anderson, written by Anderson and Roman Coppola. Described as an "eccentric pubescent love story", it features newcomers Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward in the film's main roles and an ensemble cast.[3][4][5]

Filming took place in Rhode Island from April until June 29, 2011.[6] Worldwide rights to the independently produced film were acquired by Focus Features.[6] The film received critical acclaim and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. It was also nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy.[7]


In September 1965, on a New England island called New Penzance, 12-year-old orphan Sam Shakusky is attending Camp Ivanhoe, a Khaki Scout summer camp led by Scoutmaster Randy Ward. Suzy Bishop, also 12, lives on the island with her parents, Walt and Laura, both attorneys, and her three younger brothers in a house called Summer's End. Sam and Suzy, both introverted, intelligent and mature for their age, met in the summer of 1964 during a church performance of Noye's Fludde and have been pen pals since then. Having fallen in love over the course of their correspondence, they have made a secret pact to reunite and run away together. Sam brings camping equipment, and Suzy brings her binoculars, six books, her cat, and her brother's battery-powered record player. They hike, camp and fish together in the wilderness with the goal of reaching a secluded cove on the island. They are confronted by a group of Khaki Scouts who try to capture them, and during the resulting altercation, Suzy injures one of the Scouts with scissors and Camp Ivanhoe's dog is killed by a stray shot from a bow and arrow wielded by one of the Scouts. The Scouts flee and Sam and Suzy hike to the cove which they name Moonrise Kingdom. They set up camp and go swimming. Later, while drying off, they begin dancing to Françoise Hardy in their underwear. As the romantic tension between them grows, they kiss repeatedly.

Suzy's parents, Scoutmaster Ward, the Scouts from Camp Ivanhoe, and Island Police Captain Duffy Sharp find Sam and Suzy in their tent at the cove. Suzy's parents take her home and when Sharp contacts the foster parents he is told that they no longer wish to house Sam. He stays with Sharp while they await the arrival of "Social Services" — an otherwise nameless woman with plans to place Sam in a "juvenile refuge" and to explore the possibility of treating him with electroshock therapy.

The Camp Ivanhoe Scouts have a change of heart and decide to help the couple. Together, they paddle to neighboring St. Jack Wood Island to seek out the help of Cousin Ben, an older relative of one of the Scouts. Ben works at Fort Lebanon, a larger Khaki Scout summer camp located on St. Jack Wood Island and run by Commander Pierce, who is Ward's boss and views Ward as incompetent. Ben decides that the best available option is to try to get Sam and Suzy aboard a crabbing boat anchored off the island so that Sam can work as a crewman and avoid Social Services, but before leaving he performs a "wedding" ceremony, which he admits is not legally binding. Sam and Suzy never make it onto the crabbing boat, and instead are pursued by Suzy's parents, Captain Sharp, Social Services and the Scouts of Fort Lebanon under the command of Scoutmaster Ward, who displays great leadership after Commander Pierce is incapacitated.

A violent hurricane and flash flood strike only three days after Sam and Suzy first ran away from home and, after many twists and turns, Sharp apprehends Sam and Suzy on the steeple of the church in which they first met. The steeple is destroyed by lightning, but everyone survives. During the storm, Sharp decides to become Sam's legal guardian, thus saving Sam from the orphanage, as well as allowing him to remain on New Penzance Island and maintain contact with Suzy.

At Summer's End, Sam is painting a landscape of Moonrise Kingdom. Suzy and her brothers are called to dinner. On slipping out of the window to join Sharp in his patrol car, Sam tells Suzy that he will see her the following day.




Cinematographer Robert Yeoman shot the movie on Super 16mm film (with a 1.85:1 aspect ratio), using Aaton Xterà and A-Minima cameras.[8]


The film was shot at various places around Narragansett Bay in Rhode Island including Conanicut Island, Prudence Island, Fort Wetherill, Yawgoog Scout Reservation, Trinity Church, Conanicut Island Light, Ocean House, Lincoln Woods State Park, Arcadia State Park, the Newport State Airport, Long Pond Woods, and Newport's Ballard Park.[9]

Google Earth was used for initial location scouting, according to director Anderson.

We had to figure out where we were shooting this movie—in Canada or Michigan or New England ... ? We started out with "Where is this girl [Suzy’s] house, and where is the naked wildlife we want?" So [after Googling], we traveled around a bit, to Cumberland Island in Georgia, to the Thousand Islands on the New York/Ontario border ... we checked out all these locations.[10]

A house in the Thousand Islands region in New York was used as the model for the interior of Suzy’s house on the set built for the movie. Conanicut Island Light, a decommissioned Rhode Island lighthouse, was used for the exterior.[10]

Fictitious books and maps

In the film, 12-year-old Suzy packs six (fictitious) storybooks she stole from the public library. Six artists were commissioned to create the jacket covers for the books, and Wes Anderson wrote passages for each of the books. Suzy is shown reading aloud from three of the books during the film. Anderson had considered incorporating animation for the reading scenes, but chose to show her reading with the other actors listening spellbound. In April 2012, Anderson decided to animate all six books and use them in a promotional video in which Bob Balaban, who plays the film’s narrator, introduces the segment for each of these imaginary books.[11]

On designing the maps for the fictitious New Penzance Island and St. Jack Wood Island, director Anderson said, "It's weird because you'd think that you could make a fake island and map it, and it would be a simple enough matter, but to make it feel like a real thing, it just always takes a lot of attention".[12] Anderson further stated that the movie

has maps, and it has books, and it has watercolor paintings and needle-points, and a lot of different things that we had to make. And all these things just take forever, but I feel like even if they don't get that much time [on screen], you kind of feel whether or not they’ve got the layers of the real thing in them.[12]


The soundtrack features music by Benjamin Britten, a composer notable for his many works for children's voices. At Cannes, during the post-screening press conference, Anderson said that Britten's music

had a huge effect on the whole movie, I think. The movie's sort of set to it. The play of Noye's Fludde that is performed in it—my older brother and I were actually in a production of that when I was ten or eleven, and that music is something I've always remembered, and made a very strong impression on me. It is the colour of the movie in a way.[13]

With many Britten tracks taken from recordings conducted or supervised by the composer himself, the music includes The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra (Introduction/Theme; Fugue), conducted by Leonard Bernstein; Friday Afternoons ("Cuckoo"; "Old Abram Brown"); Simple Symphony ("Playful Pizzicato"); Noye's Fludde (various excerpts, including the processions of animals into and out of the ark, and "The spacious firmament on high"); and A Midsummer Night's Dream ("On the ground, sleep sound").[14]

An original score was composed by Alexandre Desplat, who worked previously with Anderson on Fantastic Mr. Fox, with percussion compositions by frequent Anderson collaborator Mark Mothersbaugh. The final credits of the film features a deconstructed rendition of Desplat's original soundtrack in the style of Britten's Young Person's Guide, accompanied by a child's voice to introduce each instrumental section.[15]


Director and stars at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival.

The film premiered on May 16, 2012, as the opening film at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival, where it screened in competition.[16] It was released in French theaters the same day. The American limited release occurred on May 25, and set a record for the best per-theater-average for a non-animated movie by grossing an average of $130,752 in four theaters.[17]

Finishing its theatrical run on November 1, 2012, Moonrise Kingdom grossed $45,512,466 domestically and $22,750,700 in international markets for a worldwide total of $68,263,166.[2]

Home media

Moonrise Kingdom was released on DVD and Blu-ray in the United Kingdom on October 1, 2012.[18] In the United States, the film was released on October 16, 2012 in two formats: a one-disc DVD, and a two-disc Blu-ray + DVD combo pack with a digital copy.[19]


Critical response

Moonrise Kingdom received widespread acclaim; review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a rating of 94% based on reviews from 223 critics, with an average score of 8.2/10.[20] Review aggregation website Metacritic gives the film a weighted average score of 84 (out of 100), based on 43 reviews, indicating "universal acclaim".[21]

Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian gives the film 4 stars out of 5, calling it "another sprightly confection of oddities, attractively eccentric, witty and strangely clothed".[22] Christopher Orr of The Atlantic wrote that Moonrise Kingdom "captures the texture of childhood summers, the sense of having a limited amount of time in which to do unlimited things" and is "Anderson's best live-action feature" because "it takes as its primary subject matter odd, precocious children, rather than the damaged and dissatisfied adults they will one day become".[23]

Kristen M. Jones of Film Comment wrote that the film "has a spontaneity and yearning that lend an easy comic rhythm", but it also has a "rapt quality, as if we are viewing the events through Suzy's binoculars or reading the story under the covers by a flashlight".[24]

Best of lists

Film magazine Sight & Sound listed the film at #7 on its list of best films of 2012.[25] Manohla Dargis of The New York Times named Moonrise Kingdom among the best 10 films of 2012.[26]


List of awards and nominations
Award Date of ceremony Category Recipients and nominees Result
Academy Awards[27] February 24, 2013 Best Writing (Original Screenplay) Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola Nominated
American Cinema Editors[28] February 16, 2013 Best Edited Feature Film - Comedy or Musical Andrew Weisblum Nominated
American Film Institute[29] December 2012 AFI Award for Movie of the Year Jeremy Dawson, Scott Rubin, Steven M. Rales, Wes Anderson Won
AFI Film Award Moonrise Kingdom Won
Austin Film Critics Association[30] December 18, 2012 Best Film Nominated
Bodil Awards[31] March 16, 2013 Best American Film Moonrise Kingdom Nominated
British Academy of Film and Television Arts[32] February 10, 2013 Original Screenplay Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola Nominated
Broadcast Film Critics Association January 10, 2013 Best Film Moonrise Kingdom Nominated
Best Young Performer Kara Hayward Nominated
Best Cast Moonrise Kingdom cast Nominated
Best Original Screenplay Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola Nominated
Best Composer Alexandre Desplat Nominated
Cannes Film Festival[33] May 27, 2012 Palme d'Or Wes Anderson Nominated
Golden Globe Awards[7] January 13, 2013 Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy Moonrise Kingdom Nominated
Gotham Awards[34] November 26, 2012 Best Ensemble Performance Moonrise Kingdom cast Nominated
Best Feature Moonrise Kingdom Won
Guldbagge Awards[35] January 21, 2013 Best Foreign Film Moonrise Kingdom Nominated
Independent Spirit Awards[36] February 23, 2013 Best Cinematography Robert Yeoman Nominated
Best Director Wes Anderson Nominated
Best Feature Moonrise Kingdom Nominated
Best Screenplay Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola Nominated
Best Supporting Male Bruce Willis Nominated
Producers Guild of America January 26, 2013 Best Picture Scott Rudin & Wes Anderson, Jeremy Dawson, Steven M. Rales Nominated
Writers Guild of America February 17, 2013 Best Original Screenplay Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola Nominated
San Diego Film Critics Society[37] December 11, 2012 Best Original Screenplay Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola Nominated
Best Production Design Adam Stockhausen Nominated
Best Score Alexandre Desplat Nominated
Satellite Awards[38] December 16, 2012 Best Original Screenplay Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola Nominated
Best Picture Moonrise Kingdom Nominated
World Soundtrack Awards[39] October 20, 2012 Soundtrack Composer of the Year Alexandre Desplat Nominated
Young Artist Awards[40] May 5, 2013 Best Performance in a Feature Film - Leading Young Actor Jared Gilman Nominated
Best Performance in a Feature Film - Leading Young Actress Kara Hayward Nominated


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  2. ^ a b c "Moonrise Kingdom (2012) – Box Office Mojo".  
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  12. ^ a b Vary, Adam (1 June 2012). Moonrise Kingdom' director Wes Anderson on its box office record and casting his young leads"'". Inside Movies. Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 8 July 2012. 
  13. ^ "Moonrise Kingdom: What's the Britten music used in Wes Anderson's new movie?". Britten Pears Foundation. 2012. Retrieved 2012-06-24. 
  14. ^ Evan Minske (2012-05-02). "Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom Soundtrack: Check Out the Tracklist and a Piece of the Score". Retrieved 2012-07-28. 
  15. ^ "". Retrieved 1 July 2013. 
  16. ^ "Festival de Cannes - From 16 to 27 may 2012". Retrieved 2012-05-25. 
  17. ^ Smith, Grady (28 May 2012). "Box office report: 'Men in Black 3' tops Memorial Day weekend with $70M; 'Moonrise Kingdom' huge in limited release". Inside Movies blog. Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 27 June 2012. 
  18. ^ "Moonrise Kingdom". 2012-10-01. Retrieved 2013-05-19. 
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  20. ^ "Moonrise Kingdom".  
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  24. ^ Jones, Kristen M. "Moonrise Kingdom". Film Comment. Retrieved 25 June 2012. 
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  26. ^ Dargis, Manohla (December 14, 2012). "Against the Odds, Smart Films Thrive at the Box Office". The New York Times. Retrieved December 15, 2012. 
  27. ^ Fleming, Mike. "Seth MacFarlane And Emma Stone To Announce Oscar Nominations". Retrieved 2013-05-19. 
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  29. ^ American Film Institute. "Afi Awards". Retrieved 2013-05-19. 
  30. ^ "2012 Awards - Austin Film Critics Association". 2012-12-18. Retrieved 2013-05-19. 
  31. ^ "Velkommen til". Retrieved 2013-05-19. 
  32. ^ "Film Awards Nominations Announcement in 2013 - Film Awards - Film". The BAFTA site. 2013-01-09. Retrieved 2013-05-19. 
  33. ^ "Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom opens Cannes Film Festival".  
  34. ^ Knegt, Peter; Smith, Nigel M (November 26, 2012). Moonrise Kingdom,' 'Beasts of the Southern Wild' Lead Gotham Award Winners"'".  
  35. ^ "Nomineringarna till Guldbaggen" (in Swedish). Retrieved January 3, 2013. 
  36. ^ Harp, Justin (November 27, 2012). Moonrise Kingdom', 'Silver Linings' among Independent Spirit nominees"'".  
  37. ^ "San Diego Film Critics Nominate Top Films for 2012".  
  38. ^ Harp, Justin (December 4, 2012). Les Misérables' earns ten Satellite Award nominations"'".  
  39. ^ "World Soundtrack Awards Announces 2012 Nominees". World Soundtrack Academy. Flanders International Film Festival. August 22, 2012. Retrieved December 11, 2012. 
  40. ^ "34th Annual Young Artist Awards". Retrieved 2013-03-31. 

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