You recognize it when you see it. Films like The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Darjeeling Limited and Moonrise Kingdom all seem to look at life through a similarly whimsical, nostalgic, pastel-colored lens. Inspired by the @AccidentallyWesAnderson Instagram account with over a million followers, a new photo book – Accidentally Wes Anderson (AWA) – celebrates the beloved filmmaker’s signature quirky aesthetic with a collection of 200 images from around the world of real-life locations that look like scenes straight out of one of Anderson’s films – all shot by a community of his fans.
“There’s always something that you can’t really put your finger on, but you know it fits perfectly when you see it,” says Wally Koval, founder of @AccidentallyWesAnderson and author of AWA. “This is not just a travel book, it’s a mood board, an escape hatch from everyday life, a moment of joy – and hopefully it still inspires adventure and discovery.
How does Anderson feel about fans accidentally stealing his unique aesthetics? “When he gave us his blessing to move the project forward, we were thrilled, but when he saw the finished piece and agreed to write a few words – reading those few short paragraphs was the perfect stamp of approval,” says Koval about Wes Anderson’s move in the AWA.
“I now understand what it means to accidentally be myself,” Anderson says in the preface, adding, “I’m still confused about what it means to intentionally be me, if that’s what I am at all…”.
Enter a world reminiscent of Wes Anderson’s films with these randomly or perhaps intentionally taken photos.
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Crawley-Edge Boathouse, Perth, Western Australia
This blue boathouse, inspired by The Life Aquatic, is stranger than fiction: it has become the most photographed travel attraction in Perth, with so many self-indulgent tourists queuing up to visit that in 2019 the city decided to spend $400,000 on a solar-powered toilet system to service it.
Hotel Opera, Prague, Czech Republic
You cannot book a room at the Grand Budapest Hotel, an Eastern European grand lady from the Second World War period, which was created from Anderson’s imagination, but you can stay at this very similar hotel in Prague. The Bohemian Neo-Renaissance façade of the hotel’s opera house, located in Prague’s “New Town” district, still welcomes real-life guests in all its pink splendor.
Roberts Cottages, Oceanside, California
Pinks of the past are part of the visual language that Anderson uses to tell his stories in the film. This palm-fringed section of rented bungalows recalls the budding days of California when a seaside town attracted visitors with the promise: “Come to Oceanside, where life is worth living”.
Ascensor da Bica, Lisbon, Portugal
Although none of Anderson’s films are set in Lisbon, it is not surprising that this city is reminiscent of the filmmaker’s work, because it feels like a nod to another time. There are three funicular cars still in use in Lisbon, standing in front of a backdrop of pastel-colored houses and cobblestone streets that could have been taken from a shot in his films.
Fort Amer, Rajasthan, India
India, a country known for its colorfulness and intricate details, was one of the main characters in The Darjeeling Limited, which was shot mainly in Rajasthan, where this real-life scene was also captured. Built in 1592, this royal palace and military base contains unexpected wonders inside, such as a kaleidoscope of cut glass in a hall of mirrors.
Harbor shed, Glenorchy, New Zealand
Glenorchy is an adventurer’s paradise, and its landscapes can be seen in non-Anderson movies such as the Lord of the Rings trilogy and Narnia. But this red cabin that tells visitors that they made it, with its backdrop of snow-capped mountains and a touch of nostalgia, is more reminiscent of some of your favorite scenes from Anderson.
White Cyclone, Kuwana, Japan
It falls sch