Is the release of Wes Anderson’s four short films on Netflix the end of art cinema’s true form or a further chapter in the modernisation of film?
Wes Anderson has done it again: a visual sensation on screen, beautiful narration done by Richard Ayoade in ‘The Ratcatcher’ and an innovative re-imagination of four short stories written by Roald Dahl. Ralph Fiennes and Benedict Cumberbatch star in multiple roles within the Dahl mini series bringing out the wonderfully written lines by Dahl himself. They are narrated in a way that both builds and destroys the 4th walls with the style of Anderson. Even so, nothing less is expected from Anderson's artistry as he continues to create these visionary experiences for the audience to enjoy.
However, the audience is the ingredient in the recipe that seems to be changing. Under the seemingly endless budget of Netflix, Anderson has partnered with the streaming service to exclusively stream the adaptations of four Roald Dahl short stories “The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar”, “The Swan”, “Poison” and “The Ratcatcher”. This entirely rules out theater chains, let alone independent ones from screening these short stories. Although cinemas now seem to desire 2-hour+ screen times, is this a sign of a further distancing from any possible cinema audience?
Figures like Anderson are known for creating a revival of art cinema over blockbusters and Netflix series we have become accustomed to. So it has been interesting to see him use Netflix to distribute his work. There's a potential upside to this choice, as it gets more people into Anderson’s work through the easily accessible streaming platform. Yet there is still an undertone, a worry, that the industry has moved towards a cinema-less world.
In a 2019 interview with Empire Magazine, Martin Scorsese compared Marvel movies to a “theme park experience” with no human connection achieved throughout it. On top of that, not only are the “theme parks” of cinema booming in box offices worldwide, it is taking over the cinema industry and turning it into one of its own. This year the “Barbenheimer” was the blockbuster barrage on the screens, placing both films on the same day. This was not unseen before and has become a marketing strategy over the years to get people back in the theaters and off their Netflix high-chairs. But the sad reality is that the only way to gain public attention in cinema is combining two super-budget films, with an array of Oscar-award winning actors year after year. On the other hand, independent films have become more and more difficult to fund and create. Wes Anderson has clearly felt this pressure, forcing him to fund through Netflix.
A lack of internationality within the film industry is nothing out of the ordinary for Netflix. Westernization of films and globalization of the English language has been clearly reflected in Hollywood and Netflix shows . It seems as if filmmakers from across the world were forced to conform to speaking English, and use primarily white actors within ‘Hollywood’. However, a huge step forward has been made on representation through films such as “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”(2022), featuring an all-black cast. There are still more steps needed to equally represent those who are marginalized within the film industry.
Without a doubt, there are negative sides to where the industry of film seems to be heading: a lack of independence, a lack of what Scorsese would call “true art” and a lack of recognition for worldwide filmography. Even so, it is people like Wes Anderson that are keeping the spark alive for filmmakers worldwide and keeping the light on for the film fans alike. With this Netflix short story collection, who knows what’s to come for such films in the future?
Allen, Nick. “Wes Anderson Evolves Signature Style in Four Netflix Short Films Features.” Roger Ebert, 4 October 2023,
Bramesco, Charles. “Before Barbenheimer: when major movies are released on the same day.” The Guardian, 18 July 2023,
Scorsese, Martin. “Opinion | Martin Scorsese: I Said Marvel Movies Aren't Cinema. Let Me Explain. (Published 2019).” The New York Times, 4 November 2019,