The Royal Tenenbaums
Written and directed by Wes Anderson, The Royal Tenenbaums, is a wry comedy about a father, Royal Tenenbaum, who leaves his three precocious child geniuses (Chas, Richie and Margot) and their mother, only to return twenty two years later. However, his abrupt absence was the beginning of two decades of betrayal and failure that would scar the Tenenbaums for life. Their past resentments are bitterly held against Royal when he suddenly reappears, claiming to have six weeks to live and a desire to reconnect with his family. Typically, Royal’s story is a charade, but his presence and sincere desire for forgiveness soon have a profound effect on the Tenenbaums, who are each dealing with dissatisfied desires and relationships. The film’s use of third person omniscient narrator, symbolism, and numerous important characters help illustrate its themes; specifically, family dysfunction, the individual desire to make amends, and the importance of maintaining togetherness.
The film’s point of view, third person omniscient, helps exemplify themes of family dysfunction and the desire to make amends. In this type of narration, the audience is all knowing. We see all the characters’ actions. We are aware of each character’s feelings and emotions. And most importantly, we know more than the characters do. For example, the audience knows about Margot’s past before other characters, Richie and Margot’s recent husband, find out from a private investigator; her twenty-two year smoking addiction, early marriage to a Jamaican recording artist, and general depression. Another instance is when Royal tells his family that he is dying. The audience is aware that Royal hires assistance, Pagoda and Dusty, to help him beguile his family into believing that he only has six weeks to live. However, the rest of the family is not of aware of Royal’s selfish trickery until Henry, Ethylene Tenenbaum’s fiance, foils Royal’s scheme. Furthermore, by knowing all the characters’ thoughts, actions, and emotions, the audience can relate them to the films themes—- desire to make amends and the dysfunctional family.