Suzy Bishop's Books in Moonrise Kingdom

A Key Detail of Wes Anderson's Movie

Suzy reading "Shelly and the Secret Universe"
Focus Features

Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom is a story about young love that was written by Anderson and Roman Coppola. Filmed in Rhode Island in 2011, the film was released in 2012 to critical acclaim and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, as well as for the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture — Musical or Comedy.  

In the movie, Sam, a Khaki Scout at camp on the island of New Penzance, runs away with a local girl, 12-year-old Suzy Bishop, who shows up at their appointed meeting place with her kitten, her brother's portable record player and a suitcase filled with books. While the books are a creative film prop, they are essential to understanding Suzy's character and it's fantastic that she reads them to Sam throughout their adventure.

Suzy Bishop's Books

The six fictitious books that Suzy packed in her suitcase were stolen from her public library and included Shelly and the Secret Universe, The Francine Odysseys, The Girl from Jupiter, Disappearance of the 6th Grade, The Light of Seven Matchsticks and The Return of Auntie Lorraine.

You can learn more about them and listen to Suzy reading from them in this animated short. According to the producer of the film, the animated shorts were originally going to be part of the movie. Artists were hired to design the covers of the books as well, which are prominently displayed in the film. After giving it further thought, Anderson decided to shoot the characters' faces as they read excerpts from the books rather than show the animated shorts. The end result displays more of the character development and leaves some interpretation to the viewer's imagination while allowing for snippets of a story within a story. 

Although the books are quite charming — both in their creative conception and in the film — they are not real. Anderson wrote only the excerpts that are read aloud in the film. Pertaining to Suzy's character development, the titles of the books loosely adhere to the overall plotline of the movie. From Suzy and Sam's secret universe that they've built for themselves, their odysseys, Suzy's dark internal world, to returning back home, Suzy's books offer an imaginative outlet for their summer adventure.

Books in Wes Anderson Movies

Books have played a key role in many of Wes Anderson's movies. Take for example The Royal Tenenbaums, which itself was entirely framed as a book. The viewer sees the book checked out of the library at the movie's beginning and shots of the chapter pages throughout the movie. No fewer than four characters in The Royal Tenenbaums are professional writers. 

Anderson takes great care to create and establish realistic details in his movies, whether it be books, maps or cities. This thorough attention to detail is a key element of the movie-goer's experience, allowing viewers to feel as if they've just stumbled upon an entirely new universe.