Sorry for the lag in updates, readers. It’s been a busy week: I got a new job! But I hope to continue to post at least twice a week from here on out. Here’s Part II for my post on names from Wes Anderson films. In Part I, I covered Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums.
The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004)
I’ll begin this post with names from The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, Anserson’s fourth feature length film (I neglected to cover his first, Bottle Rocket, in my fist post because I have yet to see it! I am next in line at the library to check it out, so maybe I’ll provide an addendum with interesting names I find from that film.) The Life Aquatic is a hilarious comedy-drama which parodies/pays homage to Jacques-Yves Cousteau, the French underwater explorer/documentarian. It’s a fanciful, gorgeous film with Anderson’s characteristic wit and fabulously named characters.
Steve Zissou - The title character, a famed oceanographer and documentarian, is dryly played by Bill Murray. Steve is a common, every-guy name all on its own, but with Zissou it’s certainly made unique and memorable. Anderson apparently named Zissou after a model of the same name featured in his favorite photographs of Jacques Henri Latrigue.
Ned / Kingsley - Owen Wilson plays Ned Plimpton, the sweet long-lost son of Steve Zissou. His politeness and southern accent make him exceedingly charming, the perfect “Ned”. Ned is a great nickname for Edward, one that is heard less often than the ubiquitous Ed/Eddy. A hilarious running gag throughout the film (and one which should be of interest to name-lovers) is that after Steve meets his grown son, he tells him that if he’d had his way he’d have named him Kinglsey Zissou rather than Ned Plimpton. Of course, Ned is so clearly a shy Ned and not a rock n’ roll Kinglsey. But I have to say, I love both names, though they are clearly very different styles.
Jane – Cate Blanchett plays the lovely Jane Winslett-Richardson, a journalist writing a story on Team Zissou and admired by both Steve and Ned. Beautiful and smart describe both the character and her name. The Winslett in her surname was inspired by Kate Winslet, and it’s a name that I’ve seen popping up as having first name potential. As far as actress surname names go (Aniston, Jolie, Harlow) I do think Winslet/Winseltt is one of the stronger, more unique and classy choices.
Eleanor - Eleanor Zissou may well be my all-time favorite Wes Anderson character. The intelligent, demure wife of Steve Zissou is played by Anjelica Huston. The so-called “brains of Team Zissou”, Eleanor is statuesque, with brilliant blue streaks in her otherwise dark, long hair. She often wears turquoise and other aquatic colors. Eleanor is a gorgeous and stately name, one that is serious sounding but has lively nicknames. Eleanor Roosevelt is a great association, and so is Eleanor Zissou. Nicknames: Ellie, Nell, Nelly, Nora.
Alistair – Jeff Goldblum plays Alistair Hennessey, Zissou’s deliciously sinister nemesis. Alistair is certainly a sophisticated British name, and one that I think will be catching on more in the U.S. It is variant of Alexander. Alternate spellings: Alasdair, Alastair.
Oseary - Oseary Drakoulias is Steve Zissou’s producer. Inspiration for the name may have been drawn from the name of Madonna’s real-life manager, Guy Oseary. It sounds like an Irish surname, but I had trouble finding any other information on the name. An interesting choice, and a very cool sounding name.
Renzo – The original score composer of Team Zissou is given the jazzy name Renzo Pietro. A nickname for Lorenzo, I think Renzo has potential as a stand-alone name for its cheery sounding -o ending, plus the popular Z. Lorenzo is the Italian variant of Lawrence.
Esteban – Steve Zissou’s deceased mentor was named Esteban du Plantier – how clever of Anderson to give them both essentially the same name (Esteban is the Spanish variation of Stephen/Steve). Esteban is decidedly fresher sounding to English speaking ears (compared to overused Steve), and it is rising in the charts here in the U.S
Anderson’s next film was The Darjeeling Limited (2007). I’m actually not going to go into detail with the names from this film, because I wasn’t particularly inspired by the film or the names. The film centers around three brothers: Francis, Peter, and Jack (a very believable, Catholic-sounding sib-set, but nothing revolutionary as far as names go) and their trip to India as an effort to bond and become enlightened. It’s a good film, but not my favorite of Anderson’s, and no terribly inspired naming is involved.
Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)
Finally, I’d like to discuss the names in Anderson’s latest film, Fantastic Mr. Fox. It’s a stop-motion animated movie based on the novel by Roald Dahl, so Anderson did not name the characters, but there are really great names here nonetheless. By the way, it’s a hilarious and gorgeous film – not just for kids!
Roald - I love the name Roald, made famous by Roald Dahl, the author of Fantastic Mr. Fox and other children’s classics (he’s also a great namer of characters – maybe a Roald Dahl dedicated post is in order!). Roald is a Scandinavian name, meaning “famous rule” in Norwegian. It is pronounced RO-ahl (the D is silent).
Fox - An animal with a precedent for use as a person name, Fox would be a bold name choice. Elegant, swift, and wild, come to mind. The character Fox Mulder on The X-Files is a famous bearer of the name.
Ash - Mr. Fox’s son is named Ash, another strong, single syllable name gaining more attention recently. Ash is a great name for its nature reference (ash tree), plus its spunky, but I could also see it on a refined adult.
Agnes – The little fox that Ash has a crush on is Agnes (she eventually falls for Ash’s cousin). Agnes is one of those names that peaked about 100 years ago and therefore seems due for another rise in popularity. Although it seems a little old-fashioned, Agnes was recently the name of a little girl character in Despicable Me, plus it has timeless appeal as the name of St. Agnes. I would love to meet a little Agnes – a name that could carry a girl (Aggie) into adulthood well.
Kristofferson - For the seemingly perfect cousin that comes to live with Ash and his family, we have Kristofferson. An interesting choice, though an imposing name for a little one! Clearly a variation of Christopher, Kristofferson is best known as the surname of American country music singer Kris (Kristoffer) Kristofferson. Could be an interesting way to get to Kris, and a unique variation on uber-popular Christopher.