'The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar' Proves (Again) That Wes Anderson Can Make Great Feature Adaptations
By Sal LoCicero | October 1, 2023
Wes Anderson has now officially made two features in one year; 'Asteroid City’ and (most recently) ‘The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar’. In this 40 minute short film, Anderson takes the viewer through author Roald Dahl’s story about Henry Sugar (a fictionalized name created to protect the likeness of that person) who learns about a guru who is meant to help individuals see without using the eyes. This is Wes Anderson’s second Roald Dahl adaptation, 2009’s ‘Fantastic Mr. Fox’ was his first.
After releasing his most complex and polarizing film (‘Asteroid City’) in the spring, Netflix collaborated with Wes to produce one of his most visually stylish projects to date - and with a more processable narrative. Not to insult his previous work, given the amount of risks he took to present a picture that depicted a unique idea exclusive to Anderson’s style of filmmaking, but luckily this short does not spiral out of control - especially when the conclusion occurs.
This is a fantastic short that Anderson adapted with such high passion, you can tell by every shot that enters in frame. Cinematographer Robert D. Yeoman reapplies the same camera techniques that were most used in ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ (2014). The color scheme is almost exact to certain scenes from ‘The French Dispatch’ (2021), although this movie has an equal amount of style and substance whereas the 2021 film relied only on style.
The cast is phenomenal. Benedict Cumberbatch, Dev Patel, Ben Kingsley, Ralph Fiennes, and Richard Ayoade all give fantastic performances. The on-screen narration by Dev Patel is certainly Wes Anderson’s signature style of storytelling, but it does eventually become irritating.
Besides from ‘Fantastic Mr. Fox’ (2009) and this, it would be interesting to see Wes Anderson adapt more stories into feature length films. ‘Henry Sugar’ sure has proven that Wes can expand his unique creativity with inspiration by other storytellers.
‘The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar’ may only clock in at under an hour, but don’t let that prevent you from watching the writer-director broaden his horizon as a filmmaker. Once you finish watching, it will have you eager for more.
What are your thoughts?