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New Penzance = Rhode Island

A tour of the whimsical world of Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom
By DAVID SCHARFENBERG  |  July 26, 2012

Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom is the most profitable film in recent memory at Newport's indie emporium, the Jane Pickens Theater. And little wonder.

It is a clever confection, a small, bright tale of two 12-year-olds — Sam Shakusky (Jared Gilman), a nerdy and capable Khaki Scout, and Suzy Bishop (Kara Hayward), a literate and troubled vacationer — who fall in love and run away.

But the story, set on the fictional New England island of New Penzance in the summer of 1965, is not the only draw. There is a local connection, too. A big one.

With the aid of Google Earth — and the enticement of some generous tax credits — Anderson elected to shoot in Rhode Island. And the director, famously obsessed with detail, seemed determined to squeeze all the maritime charm he could out of our little state.

"Wes loves to scout," says Providence-based location scout Colin Walsh, who worked on the film, "so we did a lot of just driving around, hiking trails, visiting lighthouses."

Walsh even enlisted his father, a retired teacher who has lived in Jamestown for more than 30 years, to show Anderson around the place; his dad, an amateur gardener, wound up with a job working on the greenery — shrubs, plants, and whatnot — for the film.

Anderson's New Penzance is a hodgepodge of many Rhode Island treasures: Lincoln Woods, Stepstone Falls in West Greenwich, a small beach at Fort Wetherhill in Jamestown that serves as a refuge for the film's forlorn lovers.

A few souvenirs from Moonrise Kingdom sprinkle the state. The Jane Pickens has perched a couple of tents from the film on the marquee. Inside: a canoe and the sign for Fort Lebanon, one of two Khaki Scout camps featured in the film.

But as far as we can tell, no one has properly mapped Wes Anderson's whimsical Rhode Island. So here it is: a brief tour in pictures and words (spoiler alert: a few plot points are revealed). Perhaps you'll be inspired to see the movie — or, perchance, the real thing.

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Related: Review: Fantastic Mr. Fox, Cannes turns 65 and shows no signs of retiring, Review: Moonrise Kingdom, More more >
  Topics: Features , Rhode Island, Bill Murray, Wes Anderson,  More more >
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