How Does Wes Anderson's Isle Of Dogs Stack Up Against The Real Thing?

Harry Rosehill
By Harry Rosehill Last edited 16 months ago

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How Does Wes Anderson's Isle Of Dogs Stack Up Against The Real Thing?

The trailer for the new Wes Anderson film Isle of Dogs, has been released to much hullabaloo. Everyone's talking about the incredible cast (Yoko Ono for goodness' sake!), the beautiful animation and just how goddam Wes Anderson-y it looks. What's gone largely unmentioned is the real life counterpart to the London area, which Anderson based the film off*. Let's break down the familiar London references you might have missed in the trailer.

This Isle of Dogs' take on the DLR.

The concept of the film is simple. 20 years in the future "Japan" — why the attempted misdirect, Wes? — is over-saturated with dogs. Things come to a breaking point when there's an outburst of dog flu, which leads to all the dogs finding themselves shipped off to the colony of Trash Island (henceforth known as the Isle of Dogs). We're not convinced that this is how the island got its name, but we'll wait for the finished product before judging.

There is of course the problem of shipping all the canines off to the island. How does Anderson tackle this? By adapting the best bit of public transport the Isle of Dogs has going for it: the DLR. Sure the cables look a little different to the usual tracks, but they've still got that childlike sense of joy that the DLR has going for it.

As you might've guessed the Trash Island consists of mostly... rubbish. The land isn't of much quality when the dogs arrive. Sound familiar? That's because London's Isle of Dogs was originally little more than marshland till it was drained by colonisers. Instead of canines these colonisers were 17th Century Dutch engineers.

The difficulty of cross lingual communication is given a shoutout later in the trailer when one dog deadpans, "I wish somebody spoke his language." We're sure the British and Dutch had similar issues back in the day.

Then Wes Anderson adapts a classic piece of Docklands history. A 12 year old boy, named Atari Kobayashi, crash-lands his plane on the island. Back in 1982, Captain Harry Gee landed an aircraft just above the north tip of the Isle of Dogs, to assess the viability of an airport in the area.

Sure, Gee landed his plane safely — hence why we have London City Airport today — and Kobayashi crashes, but that's what artistic license is for. When they say 'based on a true story' in the opening credits, this is what they're talking about.

The trailer doesn't fail to get in a few digs at the East End. Like this mouldy bag of rubbish that doubles as food. Look Wes, not everyone loves traditional East End cuisine, but there was no need for such a low blow.

Another jibe is a fight scene, clearly meant to evoke the rough and tumble of Millwall FC fans. Should've got better fact checkers, Wes. Millwall is on the Isle of Dogs, but the actual stadium is in Bermondsey. So there.

Is that Greenwich Park off in the distance?

Finally there's a shot of the protagonist looking longingly off into the distance. There's a mountain beyond the water. Is that the hill at the top of Greenwich Park? Sure the hill at feels tough when you're walking up it, but that's a bit much of a stretch even for us Wes.

One clip that hasn't made the trailer — they're probably saving it for the final cut so SPOILER ALERT — is a dog doing what dogs like to do, only to be followed up by a Mudchute joke. So there's that to look forward to.

*This movie might actually have nothing to do with London's Isle of Dogs. Watch the trailer for the real thing beneath.

Last Updated 22 September 2017