Arts & Culture

‘Lil’ Rhody’ gets spotlight in ‘Moonrise Kingdom’

Staff Writer
Friday, February 22, 2013

For anyone who has ever had a summer romance, visited Rhode Island’s rustic coast or been an angsty preteen, Wes Anderson’s “Moonrise Kingdom” is the film to watch. The 2012 film is up for the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay Sunday, received a slew of other awards and nominations, did well at the box office and was filmed right here in little Rhode Island.

“Moonrise Kingdom” takes place on the fictional island of New Penzance, a remote location off the New England coast. Set in the 1960s, the story follows two 12 year olds, Suzy and Sam, played by Kara Hayward and Jared Gilman, respectively. Sam, a misfit orphan, is sent  to Camp Ivanhoe, a boy’s camp for Khaki Scouts, while Suzy, a misunderstood dreamer, seeks to escape the tedium of a home life where no one understands her. After the two become pen pals over the course of a year, they decide to run off together one summer. Escaping their respective prisons, the two meet up and set off to explore New Penzance, falling in love in the process.

According to a story in The Boston Globe, Anderson considered location a very important part of his film. Inspiration for the setting came from Anderson’s yearly travels to remote East Coast islands near Cape Cod, particularly Naushon Island, The Globe reported.

“It’s a place that is institutionally protected from any change, and when you go there, it feels like stepping back at least 40 years into the past,” Anderson told the Globe. To recreate the feel of Naushon Island, the “Moonrise Kingdom” crew shot in locations all over Rhode Island, primarily in and around the Aquidneck Islands.

Production designer Adam Stockhausen told The Globe that “much of the film was developed around the terrain itself,” citing the use of forests and streams in Sam and Souzy’s adventure.

The film encompasses themes like the turbulence of adolescence, the beauty and simplicity of young love and the quiet sadness of being misunderstood. While these are powerful themes on their own, the isolated and beautiful Rhode Island scenery proves instrumental in communicating these ideas. Watching young Sam and Suzy navigate through the woods or make camp in an isolated cove gives the viewer the sense that the pair stumbled into their own magical world — somewhere where no one judges them, yells at them for being different or resents them for being a burden.

Many native Rhode Islanders are proud to see their home state so prominently displayed. “It (was) neat to see places where I live near or frequent during the summer, but I think the setting definitely contributed to the film’s allure and success,” R.I. native Neal Rooney ’13.5 wrote in an email to the Herald. Even Rhode Islanders who have not seen the film were pleased to learn that Rhode Island had been featured in a commercially successful film yet again.

“Moonrise Kingdom” is not the first film shot in R.I., which has set the stage for scenes for many other films, including “27 Dresses,” “Dan in Real Life” and the 1974 version of “The Great Gatsby.”

“I actually have never seen ‘Moonrise Kingdom,’” Warwick resident Amanda Ruggieri ’16 said. “There have been other movies filmed in Rhode Island, and generally I always get a little burst of pride that Lil’ Rhody is getting some attention, given the fact that a lot of people don’t even know Rhode Island is a state.”

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