Fascinating Video Explores Director Wes Anderson’s Masterful Use of Symmetry

A new video celebrating the composition style of director Wes Anderson is currently making the rounds on the Internet: a beautiful ode to the power of symmetry and Anderson’s ability to use it better than just about anybody in cinema.

The video was put together by a filmmaker who goes by the name Kogonada as a side project. According to Co.Create, he was working on a Criterion featurette that explored the visual similarities between Fantastic Mr. Fox and Anderson’s other films when the idea for “Centered” struck him.

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The symmetry in each shot is illustrated quite simply by placing a dotted line down the middle of the frame. Be it a person or a tent flap, as the line splits it into perfect halves, the symmetry of the images really leaps out at you.

Check out the video at the top to see it for yourself, but don’t blame us if you suddenly find you’re centering all of your photography and hosting Wes Anderson movie marathons after this.

(via Laughing Squid)

  • sdtransfertomich

    Symmetrical, or centered? My understanding of the definition of symmetrical is equal weight on both sides, or equal composition. There might be something in the center (windmill, tent, etc) but the items flanking are not equal.

  • Tim

    How hard is it to center a shot?

  • Αλέξης Κοτανίδης

    How hard is it to do anything? The thing is not everyone does it

  • Oskarkar

    doted line is really anoying – it doesn’t let you see the picture!

  • Andrew Read

    Its not only centered. Things can be symmetrical and have few differences. you look at the reflection of a mountain in the water and it still has it’s differences but its still considered symmetrical. I think they go hand in hand together. Maybe symmetry and centered creates a beautiful equal composition.

  • battlepriest

    This isn’t “symmetry”. Putting the subject in the center of the frame is “centering”, not “symmetry”. Even the title of the video uses the word “Centered”, not “Symmetrical”.

  • Fernando Callo

    Symmetry isn’t always centered

  • sdtransfertomich

    True. But in the case of this video, every clip IS centered (or shows something directly in the middle), but not every clip is symmetrical.

  • sdtransfertomich

    My point exactly.

  • jhthings

    I agree, sdtransfertomich. I struggled with seeing the “symmetry” too… seemed more centered to me.

  • Joki Z

    Symmetrical compositions, not perfect symmetry.

  • Burnin Biomass

    If not symmetric (I don’t mind the use of the term here so much), I would say the images are centered, AND balanced (whether formally or informally) very well.

  • John Smith

    Wes Anderson, over rated one trick pony.

  • Burnin Biomass

    And does it that well.

  • PTBridgeport

    Well at least he has a trick and several major Motion Pictures…What have you got?

  • try2

    So far each time he performs the trick, I enjoy the movie.

  • B William Crochet

    They are centered, but its the symmetry employed in addition that raises the interest of the composition. Both centering and symmetry around the subject could be done independently. Centered subject is nothing new, parents and grandma pursue it relentlessly in their images. It is the symmetry in the image and clips that make the shots interesting.

  • B William Crochet

    Non symmetry appears to be every bit of intentional as the symmetry. It would appear Anderson is sometimes conveying something by the juxtaposition of elements. The symmetry Anderson would employ may be as much contextual as visual. It is a way to think about what the director is thinking.

  • Alan Lim

    Symmetrical sounds better than centered, that’s all. No need to look into all the details…nerd.

  • guest


    Also, is it OK to cite this article/video celebrating this sort of composition when I come across others that criticize it?

  • Lewis

    Don’t name his Cinematographer, Robert Yeoman, or anything.

    Who in god’s name would do that?

    That would be ridiculous.

  • Joshua Taj Bozeman

    This is amazing. Few filmmakers and cinematographers understand the notion of putting something in the center of the screen. Seriously?! You point the camera at something until they’re in the middle of the frame, Astounding brilliance!!

    But seriously, this only works if you want all your films to look exactly the same and be as weird and artificial as possible. So, I guess he’s got that down pat. Not necessarily a compliment, but what the hell.

  • JoeC123

    That’s exactly what I was going to say.

  • Christian Bouchez

    Wes Anderson is just amazing.

  • Zos Xavius

    Utterly predictable. He could like break off and use the rule of thirds for once. I gotta say, as someone who shoots portraits sometimes, I’ve centered a lot myself, but this is excessive. Some of these comps work really, really well though. Some of those shots were beautiful too. The beauty of rules is that you can break them.

  • Metasepia

    Most simple thing.He can do only this and…thats it.

  • Ridgecity

    It’s a simple thing. It almost looks childish but it’s art.

  • Ridgecity

    you can see a lot of his personal style of cinema, I think it’s just portrait with good composition. Hipsters love it and photographers should too.

  • Red211

    Basic principles of design terms here, folks. Symmetry is a general term. Anderson employs formal symmetry, approximate symmetry and asymmetry with aplomb and ease. There’s the skill. Loving that he’s made symmetry is his personal voice.


    “[and] Anderson’s ability to use it better than just about anybody in cinema.”…

    I take it you’re serious.


  • Daniel Hine

    I tried watching Fantastic Mr Fox a month or two ago, and I couldn’t stand how much symmetry he was using. It actually got tiring. I’m not trying to be obnoxious, but for my personal taste it irritated me

  • meaghdalena

    I recognized Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Life Aquatic, and Moonrise Kingdom, but what were the other movies???

  • Bharat

    What’s the big deal??? The music was good, but I didn’t *get* what it’s all about! Must be one of those “intellectual” type of movies! :P

  • skurge2144

    …you really want your mind blown?! Watch it backwards and upside down! ¬¬

  • Biggie Cheespop

    Symmetrical is actually clearer than that: it’s tantamount to ‘pregnant’ in that, it either is or it isn’t. This video is about “Centered” not “Symmetry” … since this (brilliant) video analysis of (the amazing) Wes Anderson came to light, it’s bothered me to no end that people keep referring to “Centered” as “Symmetrical” … if the exact thing isn’t happening on the left and right (about the centerline) then it is not symmetrical. I think you can describe things as being a little symmetrical or a lot symmetrical with respect to an assessment of a balance: but it is either symmertical or not. End of story: similar to pregnant … you either are or you aren’t.

  • Biggie Cheespop

    what you describe as “symmetrical compositions” doesn’t qualify as “Symmetry” … in the same way you can’t be “a little pregnant”, you either are or aren’t.

  • Ed

    It’s certainly beautiful but in movies, the norm is to place everything dead on center (boring) and the exception is to actually use composition rules… so I don’t get the “masterful” part.