The Royal Tenenbaums

Wes Anderson, USA, 2001


The grandfather of the Tenenbaum family disapproves of the timorous way that his son is bringing up his two boys. His guiding principal is “We do not raise children to be afraid of life” but that we must “water them with bravery”.

In this scene he invites the two brothers to come out and play with him in the streets. He’s going to break pretty much every rule that responsible parents impose on their children.  In a two-minute sequence he teaches them how to dash across a road as the traffic lights are about to change from Red to Green, to throw water bombs at a taxi, to steal from a shop, how to hitch a ride on the back of a bin lorry, and how to bet money on illegal street card games. The jumpy rhythm of the sequence carries the spectator into the playful folly of the sequence, and themselves become a child lost in the joyous freedom, without having a moment to think of the dangers that their grandfather is subjecting the two little boys to. The anarchic component of the game, expressed in this scene is also played out throughout the whole film, where all transgressions are allowed.