Deconstruction and analysis of Rushmore

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I will be talking about “Rushmore” (1998, Anderson, Wes) Directed by Wes Anderson. It will discuss the cinematography, Sound and the Director itself. It will also explore different scenes of “Rushmore” and what was done to draw the audience in. Auteur Theory will also be discussed and how this makes Wes Anderson a great Director. I will also look at budget and funding of the film and also stuff that was fount fascinating about “Rushmore”. 

Rushmore is set in a high school where a pupil called Max Fisher aged 15 is obsessed with plays/script writing and being apart of many clubs and societies such as the fencing team, and beekeeping society. Max is obsessed with Rushmore and really only lives for the fact of attending the school. He soon becomes to realize that he is on academic probation jue to the lack of work and grades, Max becomes madly in love with an infant teacher called Miss Cross, who then falls in love with Herman Blume who is another main character, who we see Max and him become good friends, but then soon fall out as the relationship between him and miss cross. They have normal fights like friends and act very childish at times. “Rushmore” is a clear comedy film. The audience for “Rushmore” is teenagers aged 12-21, The reason this is for teenagers/young adults is the humor and the romance, it is very childish in places which may draw the younger audience in. Wes Anderson is one of the few film makers that still belongs to the traditional film making, meaning he is responsible for the whole process of film making, DOP, Sound and direction of actors, and the creativity of the film. “Wes Anderson belongs to the tradition of filmmaking that places importance on directors as singular visionaries creativity and artistically responsible for there movies” (M.Japp, Meister, K.Japp, 2007, P 252) This give the film a lot more depth and creativity as the director can control all the aspects of the film and getting the message across that he wants to the audience, instead of relying on others who will portray the directors image into there own. Anderson has already achieved a few Awards having only made three feature films, Such as “New Generation Award” and “Best Director”.

The character’s in “Rushmore” are all presented very strong. Max and Herman have so much about there personality you really can connect with right from the beginning, You see how mature Max is for his age. This is portrayed by showing Max putting on plays, debating, and setting up several clubs. On the other hand Herman is a very childish character, even though he owns his own business. The reason you feel Herman is a childish person is for many reasons. For example he hides behind a tree and runs off across the field in the scene where he goes to meet Miss Cross. Straightaway this give you the sense of childishness where as Max will very Maturely meet Miss Cross. Anderson  has a clear understanding of how he want the audience to perceive the characters, Not only do you see this is “Rushmore” but in Anderson’s other two Films. “In all three of his films, “Bottle Rocket”, “Rushmore”, and “The Royal Tenenbaums”, Anderson Focuses his attention on central characters who, lie, cheat, steal and in some cases intend to become criminals as a “career choice”. (M.Japp, Meister, K.Japp, 2007, P 251) Some of these Characteristics are very clear in “Rushmore”, Max Fisher tells a lie from the beginning of the film about his dad being a brain surgeon as he don't want to be seen as a poor child. There is also an aspect of cheating with Miss Cross and Herman, Who are seeing each other behind Max’s back. Although Max and Miss Cross was never going out, you still get the sense of cheating as Herman is Max best friend and Max liked Miss Cross. You can see characteristics of the characters of “Rushmore” in “Bottle Rocket”. Dignan is on the borderline of being a psychopath who organizes a group of  people to turn into thieves. Max Fisher has the same characteristics  he is “no cynic and “no Quitter” which shows he is willing to do anything to get what he wants, which is the same as Dignan in “Bottle Rocket”.

Auteur theory is where you can see the directors own personal creative vision, “There are few directors today who are considered “auteurs” in some capacity that the casual moviegoer can recognize by name.” ( McCarthy, Article, 2012) Wes Anderson is a clear auteur, you can see his own Creative vision in all of his films. Rushmore and the Royal Tenenbaums is a good example, with the set design and characteristics really thought through. “Anderson's mise en scene -- heavy on the '70s influences and bolstered by the combination of Mark Mothersbaugh's excellent score and the British Invasion soundtrack” (Contreras,Tv Guide, Unknown) The scene with Max and Miss cross at the fish tank is a good use of mise-en-scene. The fish tank was placed there so we as an audience gets the first connections with the two characters. Miss Cross is so interested in Marine life, so max takes a big interest in this and it becomes romantic in a sense with max attempting to build an aquarium.  A great moment where the 70’s music adds to the comical factor and works well is the scene where Derk finds out Herman is seeing Miss Cross. Herman goes to drive off when Derk is stood in front on the car and a powerful piano note (like on vampire films) is played. This is a real powerful moment as it is showing Derk as a strong person and Herman as the frightened child. Which Herman is portrayed as a child through ought the film. It draws you in because it is a comical moment but at the same time a strong meaning behind it. Another great moment is the ending to the film. Everyone is all happy, Max has corrected his mistakes and all the characters are shown to be getting along and having a laugh. The music also represents this with an upbeat 70’s sound track. Music is a big part in “Rushmore” and scene’s would not work as well if the music was not there. Anderson also uses a lot of his cast again, this is because he has worked with them before and also the actors will know what he wants, and how he works. Bill Murray and Jason Schwartzman are both in Anderson's newer film “Moonrise Kingdom”

The Cinematography in this film is very well composed and thought extremely well portrayed to draw the audience into the scene. A real nice example of this is the bedroom scene between Miss Cross and Max. The lighting is very soft so you get the feel of romance, and the scene is set quite dark with just enough light on the actors faces to create this illusion, which draws the audience in and make you feel very relaxed and calm. A scene where this could be conjuxiposed against with much more harsh lighting which makes you feel uncomfortable to a certain extent is the Birthday party where Herman is throwing balls into the pool. This is showing that he is angry or jealous. Anderson wanted to do a shot with Max and Herman in a helicopter which would cost $25,000, but he was denied by disney. He was eventually given money but not by Disney. But by Bill Murray who gave Anderson a blank cheque to cover the costs. 

Anderson, Wilson and the producer originally was going to make “Rushmore” for the new cinema, but they were unable to decide on a budget for the film. Which lead to them setting up an auction for for rights of the film in 1997. The rights were finally brought by ‘Joe Roth’ who was the former chair for Walt Disney Studios. Joe Roth offered Anderson and Wilson a budget of $10 million to make “Rushmore”, it did in fact end up with a $20 million budget. On the opening weekend of “Rushmore” it made $43,666 with the tickets being sold out, When it was released it made a total of $17.1 million which was a loss of $2.9 million. 

There has been a few things that i have fount out that fascinated me about this film. The scene where Max and miss Cross are feeding the fish, Max had to stand on boxes to make him the same hight as Miss Cross. “When Bill Murray first read the script, he thought it was so fantastic that he said he wanted to do it so badly he would do it for free” (IMDB, Rushmore) This shows just how amazing the script and film was going to be. To have a big star willing to act for free just to be a part of what was and did turn out to be an iconic film. One of the main shooting locations of “Rushmore” was Andersons school he attended, it shows that anderson wanted to use this school as he maybe have had  the same kind of childhood here, which again is fitting in with him being an Auteur and wanting his own style.

In conclusion Wes Anderson as a director is fantastic, He created “Rushmore” with his own creative view and made the set and the characteristics just how he wanted to portray them. The acting is brilliantly done, Bill Murray really kicked started his career with this film, as it shows him at his best, The best moment is when he finds out who Max’s dad  really his, Murray’s face softens and smiles. Just this scene with Murray really started his career up. Also Jason Schwartzman makes Max’s character his own and fits the part brilliantly, with his whiteness, comedy and seriousness. The Cinematography and sound fits brilliantly with the scenes, The use of 70’s British industry music fitted with the time that this was meant to be set in. If Anderson was not an Auteur and left others to portray his creative ideas across, It wouldn't have been as powerful as it was. All though it did not make as much as it cost to Produce it still is such a brilliant film that really shows Anderson at his best. Not only in this film but his other films such as “bottle rocket”. You can see Character similarities with the characters in both of these film. Which also shows that anderson is an auteur in his own right. Anderson makes great films that all have there own meanings, Quirks and great set design “Wes Anderson's films are not islands; they are entire worlds. They come with their own ecosystem, inhabitants, customs, and quirks.”  (Brown, Wes’s World, Unknown) “Rushmore” is a clear example of this with its quirkiness, characteristics, set design and the script its self. 


McCarthy, Craig,(2012) “The Wes Anderson Aesthetic”

M.Japp, Phyllis, Meister, Mark & K.Japp, Debra (eds) (2007) Communication Ethics, Media + Popular Culture, Peter Lang Publishing, 29 Broadway, New York, p251, p252

IMDB, “Rushmore”

Brown, Laura(Unknown) “Wes’s World”

Contreras, Sandra(Unknown) Tv Guide, “Rushmore Review”


Rushmore, (1998, Anderson, Wes, American Empirical Pictures, 93 mins)

Bottle Rocket, (1996, Anderson, Wes, Columbia Pictures, 91 mins)

The Royal Tenenbaums (2001, Anderson, Wes, Touchstone Pictures, 110 mins)

Moonrise Kingdom (2012, Anderson, Wes, American Empirical Pictures, 94 mins)


Liam Dickins - Producer


About the author


I am 19 years old and currently at staffordshire University where I study Media(Film)Production. I studied Film at college for two years where i gained many experiences. I enjoy many roles in the film industry, But I hope to have a career as a Producer, Gaffer, Sound or Camera. While…

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