The Grand Budapest Hotel – more Wes Anderson than ever

Posted on 20 March 2014
By Jack Pearson
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Wes Anderson’s latest feature is more Wes Anderson then Wes Anderson usually is, and that’s saying something. The film boasts his usual ensemble cast, wide Kubrick-esque shots, with subjects in the centre of the frame, bold colourful cinematography and of course Bill Murray.

Summed up, The Grand Budapest Hotel is a light hearted, fun and overall enjoyable film. Ralph Fiennes stars as the eccentric manager of the hotel and pulls out a fantastic, campy performance.

Fiennes clearly revels in his role as M. Gustave H and his towering performance is deftly complimented by newcomer Tony Revolori, as his Bellboy and companion.

Gustave is humorously seen wining, dining and sleeping with elderly clients as if to make sure they return to the hotel every year.

Madam H, played by Tilda Swinton, is one such client, who dies shortly after her visit to the Grand Budapest.

He is accused of her murder by Dimitri, played by Adrian Brody, a relative of Madam H’s who seeks to inherit her fortune. And so Gustave and his bellboy must try their best to outmanoeuvre Dimitri and his ruthless hit man, played by Willem Dafoe.

To add to this, the priceless painting Boy With Apple is stolen and hidden by Gustave shortly before he is wrongly imprisoned for murder.

This leads to some hilarious and bizarre encounters with some very strange characters, most of whom will make you sit up in your chair and exclaim, “Ooh! That’s so and so” due to the film’s stellar cast of character actors, which is almost an embarrassment of riches.

The sets of the film are exquisite and have been crafted to perfection, the hotel lobby being the most impressive example for its apparent scale. The bright purple and red costumes of the hotel staff also bleed off the screen and draw in your eye.

Colour, is clearly an important factor to Wes when deciding on a visual direction, and the film’s dominant colour is bright pink. This seems to be a symbol of the hotel, the lobby is pink, the walls are pink and the outside of the building is pink.

Pink represents innocence and purity whilst the black of the ZZ’s, basically the SS, contrasts boldly to pink to show the clear divisions between good and evil.

The narrative is interestingly woven, we open in the modern day, where the eponymous, unnamed Author’s memorial sits in a cemetery. We then cut back through several decades to different tellers of the story, until arriving in the 1930s.

It seems that Wes Anderson is demonstrating here the enduring power of the written word, which can traverse through time and preserve stories forever.

Consequentially the same is true of film as an art form, which may mean that Wes is considering his own legacy and his ability to tell story.

The film shallowly attempts to tackle issues of the war and the prejudices of fascist ideals in the train carriage scenes.

This issue could have been firmly confronted and explored, as oppose to Wes simply dipping his toe in the water. This could have been explored more suitably with a longer running time, as the film unfortunately only runs to 99 minutes.

In summary, The Grand Budapest Hotel is a brilliant, fun, wacky adventure that will make eager cinema goers squeal with excitement, due to the film’s impressive cast, but does suffer because the large scale cannot be explored or contained comfortably in the 99 minute time frame.