Wes Anderson is a nostalgia merchant. Sometimes, his films seem like elaborate exercises in joining idiosyncratic characters in gazing backwards. Anderson has visited the golden age of print journalism, stayed in the lost grandeur of Europe’s sanatoriums, steered a train through old-world India, and now travelled to 1950s Americana with , which debuted at Cannes and is released on June 23.
The film’s title is something of a misnomer: Asteroid City has a population of 87 and is named after a meteor that landed in 3007 B.C.E. The film orbits around a convention commemorating this event (cue nostalgia). Though it perfectly replicates a southwestern desert town complete with a one-pump gas station and a cozy luncheonette, was built and shot beneath the Spanish sun in Chinchón, an hour south of Madrid.
Fans can explore the characteristically detailed props, costumes, and sets comprising Anderson’s latest world in “Asteroid City Exhibition,” a London pop-up staged by 180 Studios and Universal Studios, which runs through July 8.
The film aesthetically captures the particularities of America in the 1950s, locating the trappings of its technological advancement within the context of its timeless arid plains. It was, as the film’s press release notes, “an era of heightened political anxiety dovetailed with fears about falling missiles, and the pop-culture explosion of fascination of aliens and other interplanetary visitors.”
In this way, the installation exhibition feels both future-retro and old-timey. It casts audiences back to an era when Levi made garments for hard scrabbling manual laborers, a hamburger cost 35¢, and Pluto was still a planet. But it also stages a neon-green spaceship and a bank of vending machines comprising an automat, a location that the director had originally planned to stage the entire film within.
For a sense of setting, there’s the billboard announcing the meteor site for which the town is famous and the miniaturized model freight train that cuts through the desert. For costumes, there’s the full khaki getup of Augie Steenbeck (Jason Schwartzman), the all-white uniform of junior stargazer Clifford Kellogg (Aristou Meehan), and the summer dress of precocious teenage scientist Dinah Campbell (Grace Edwards).
Those wishing to take a piece of Anderson’s desert dream home can stop by the gift shop or get a bite to eat inside the linoleum-floored luncheonette, where the prices are, of course, far from retro.
See more images from the exhibition below.
More Trending Stories: