Visit Wes Anderson’s ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’

Grand BudapestWes Anderson is a creature of habit. He has developed a uniqueness that has such a look, feel and sound to his films that they have become a genre themselves.  You know you’ve really made it when Saturday Night Live makes a mockery of you and most recently, SNL took Wes Anderson on and produced a skit that summed up every Wes Anderson cliché to perfection.  The Grand Budapest Hotel is no exception and follows suit as it uses the same bright color schemes, camera shots, and cast.

The Grand Budapest Hotel is set over the midst of different eras but follows the story of how a man named Mr. Zero Mustafa came to own the establishment.  He relays the saga to his dinner companion, a writer played by Jude Law.  His story takes place in the 1930s when prestige was measured in coat tails and furs and the Hotel was in its heyday.  Reminiscent of the Casa de Rosa of Argentina, the hotel is painted in a pink ombre that is as flamboyant as its clientele.  The time period in which the majority of the story takes place makes for gorgeous costumes and fulfils the ever present vintage feel of Anderson’s films.

Young Zero (Tony Revolori) began at the hotel as a devoted lobby boy, but not just to the establishment, but to Misère Gustave (Ralph Fiennes) who lives and breathes to be the crème de la crème of concierges.  So much so that he even entertains the senior female patrons on a very person and “intimate level.”  My personal favorite cameo comes from Tilda Swinton. Her only recognizable feature is her alabaster skin as she plays a countess whom frequents the hotel and engages in relations with Gustave.  After her death, it’s discovered that she has left a most coveted and priceless Renaissance painting,”Boy With an Apple to Gustave in her will.  After her death, a transcontinental chase begins as Gustave takes Zero to “steal” what is rightfully his.  Adrian Brody plays Dmitri, a humanized version of Boris from Rocky and Bullwinkle (just taller and lankier but equally as maniacal) who will stop at nothing to retrieve the family fortune.

The notoriety continues as appearances from familiar faces of Anderson’s past films pop up regularly from beginning to end.  Bill Murray has appeared in every Anderson film with the exception to Bottle Rocket, Anderson’s debut film in 1996.  He again appears, but only momentarily much like in The Darjeerling Limited.  Jason Schwartzman, Owen Wilson, Jeff Goldblum, Harvey Keitel, and Edward Norton and Willem Defoe also make appearances.

If you could deconstruct Anderson’s movies, each aspect could stand alone and still please the senses.  Sans dialog leaves behind a beautiful color palate in every scene– from the landscape to costumes to set design, there is a visual acuity that is never left unattended.  Although difficult, if you allow your attention to wander from the foreground, the background is full of quirky pieces that create a story that is just realistic enough that you believe it to be true, but imaginative enough to develop a world of its own.  The original score is written by Alexandre Desplat and has worked with Anderson on Moonrise Kingdom and Fantastic Mr. Fox.  It’s a gorgeous soundtrack that has European influences meshing perfectly with this period piece.  The combination of handheld camerawork and editing encourages the quick pace that is intended for the film that is at its most basic, one long chase scene.

Wes Anderson (along with frequent collaborator and friend, Owen Wilson) attended the University of Texas in Austin.  The debut of this film coincided with South by South West, a city wide film, music, and everything in between festival.  The Grand Budapest Hotel debuted in town with a Q&A panel following the film with Anderson.  I currently reside in Austin and wasn’t lucky enough to see the initial screening, but I still feel fortunate to have seen the movie in the city that gave Anderson his direction for a genre that is so well received.


Comments are currently closed.