It’s been a good few years since Wes Anderson’s masterpiece, the critically acclaimed The Grand Budapest Hotel. His only upcoming credits on IMDB is a 2018 Untitled Wes Anderson Project. Therefore, his fans will accept any taste of his very particular unmistakable style.
Slightly later than most of the ever more populated players in the Christmas ad arena, H&M have released their Christmas ad; and it’s a masterpiece.
This isn’t Wes Anderson first TV ad, he has in fact directed many TV ads in the past, however, perhaps his style being absent from our screens, other than spoof imitators, makes this 3 minute ad ‘Come Together’ more of a spectacle.
We are on the ‘Winter Express’ on ‘H&M Lines’. The H&M blinds are risen revealing the typical Anderson dolls-house style windows. Behind the centre one stands the conductor: Adrian Brody. Hands on hips he peers out the window disconsolately. He turns back into his office, rips off the page on his calendar, revealing the 25th December. After some checks on his map, some hastily scribbled notes, a shrug of the shoulders and a sigh, he makes an announcement to his passengers. Meanwhile, the scene is set to a distant choir singing ‘The Little Drummer Boy’.
The conductor then drearily with a sonorous tone announces, “I regret to inform you that due to challenging weather conditions over night, in combination with mechanical difficulties on our scheduled route, we’ve been redirected to alternate tracks, and will therefore be delayed an additional 11 and a half hours. Our estimated arrival time is now 3.17am. We realise this will now interfere with many of your holiday plans and celebrations – it certainly cancels mine. We’re very sorry for this terrible inconvenience. My assistant Fritz and I will be serving a small complimentary Christmas brunch, including a chocolate flavoured hot beverage with whipped topping, in the cafeteria section at the rear of the coach, starting in 20 minutes. Just to repeat again: Christmas brunch, 20 minutes, cafeteria section at the rear of the coach. Please do join us. Thank you.”
As this is announced we see a variety of different personalities in their respective compartments on the train, continuing the classic dolls-house theme. Each passenger has a small photo of their closest family or friend that they won’t be seeing at Christmas, many placed on top of wrapped Christmas gifts. The final passenger is fed-up, ‘unaccompanied minor’ who props his head up with both hands as he stares out at the snowy landscape going by.
The conductor and his assistant then brilliantly catch a parcel and Christmas tree from outside with a hook. As the window is opened, the choir’s Little Drummer Boy increases in volume as if this eerie choir rendition is somehow outside or carried by the gushing snowy wind.
The real show stopper is the single-shot of the empty corridor set to the pa rum pum pum pum, as the train travels through a tunnel, the lights flicker on and off with an ominous orange glow and as the caption says, ’19 minutes pass’.
As instructed, the passengers join the conductor 20 minutes later in the cafeteria one-by-one, finally joined by the ‘unaccompanied minor’. He nervously peers into the ‘cafeteria’ as ‘The Little Drummer Boy’ is replaced by John Lennon’s ‘Happy Xmas (War is Over)’. The camera pans out and the passengers and train staff have decorated the room and putting the finishing touches to the tree, which of course the minor applies the star to the top. He takes a mouthful of the promised whipped cream, the caption reads ‘Come Together’ and H&M’s logo appears contrasting against a snowy backdrop with a train track beneath.
It’s quirky, uncomplicated, yet ambiguous. It’s Anderson all over. It’s no John Lewis, family-fun Christmas ad. However, it’s technically a masterpiece and has a straightforward, sentimental, holiday spirit message. Whilst we wait for Anderson’s next feature film, this interesting piece will keep his devotees happy this Christmas.