Grand Budapest Hotel, The: What You Need to Know about Anderson’s Amusing Film

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THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL recounts the adventures of Gustave H, a legendary concierge at a famous European hotel between the wars; and Zero Moustafa, the lobby boy who becomes his most trusted friend.

The loopy story involves the theft and recovery of a priceless Renaissance painting; a raging battle for an enormous family fortune; a desperate chase on motorcycles, trains, sleds, and skis; and the sweetest confection of a love affair — all against the back-drop of a suddenly and dramatically changing Continent.

 

 

THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL: a caper in constant motion, kinetic and comic; a timeless tale of friendship, honor, and promises fulfilled. Director Wes Anderson says his eighth feature film comes from a mix of inspirations including the pre-code comedies of the 1930s and the stories and memoirs of Viennese writer Stefan Zweig.

the_grand_budapest_hotel_1_fiennes“I had an idea with my friend Hugo,” recalls Anderson of the script’s beginnings. “He and I had talked for some years about a character inspired by a friend of ours, an exceptionally, supremely charming person with a unique and wonderful way with words and a very special view of life. Someone unlike anyone else we know in the world. Then, separately, I had this thought to make a kind of a European movie – inspired especially by Stefan Zweig, a writer who I’ve come to really love in the last several years.

the_grand_budapest_hotel_5_ronanThere were some other things that I was reading that might not seem connected to this movie, like Hannah Arendt’s ‘Eichmann in Jerusalem,’ which had very little directly to do with this, but it contains a fascinating analysis of how each country in Europe responded to the Nazis, and how the whole place came unglued; as well as ‘Suite Française’ by Irène Némirovsky. Those were some of the things I started with, and I mixed them with the idea that Hugo and I had about this friend of ours. And that’s what this movie is, sort of, in a way.”

Anderson set his tale in a fictional spa town in the imaginary country of alpine Zubrowka, for which he created not only a complete visual aesthetic but also a cohesive 20th Century history mirroring Eastern Europe, with a fascist takeover in the thirties and a Communist period after that – but also a more distant past in the vein of the belle epoque.

Whole Universe

“Every time Wes makes a film, it’s a whole world, and there’s a whole universe to be created along with it,” says producer Jeremy Dawson, who has worked with Anderson on MOONRISE KINGDOM, FANTASTIC MR. FOX and THE DARJEELING LIMITED.  “Here, he has created an entirely fictional part of Eastern Europe known as The Republic of Zubrowka, and in Zubrowka we find one of those great spa towns that cropped up all over before the turn of the century.  The story really came from his interest in that time period, that history, that world; and also a certain type of character who is our Monsieur Gustave, the concierge at this grand hotel.  So his idea of both the character and this entire world merged together, and Wes turned out this great script.  Then the script, the acting and direction all combined to become something different even than it was on the page.”

Ralph Fiennes: M. Gustave H

the_grand_budapest_hotel_8_fiennesAnderson wrote the part of Monsieur Gustave H, the fastidious concierge at the heart of the film, with one actor in mind:  Ralph Fiennes, a two-time Oscar nominee for SCHINDLER’S LIST and THE ENGLISH PATIENT.   “The idea that Ralph was going to play this character enriched it completely,” says Dawson.  “He just disappears into that persona until you simply say, ‘that’s Monsieur Gustave.’”

Fiennes immersed himself fully into the character’s many contradictions.  “Gustave is insecure, vain and needy, as it says in the script, but he’s also a very fastidious man who has a strong sense of principle rooted in this idea of how you look after people,” the actor observes.

He especially enjoyed Gustave’s paternal relationship with young Zero, whom he selects as a potential protégé in the never-ending battle against the coarseness of the world.  “To Gustave, Zero is an innocent, inexperienced in the ways of the world and in need of instruction. But they ultimately become equal brothers-in-arms,” notes Fiennes.

Fiennes was inspired by his first collaboration with Anderson, who, he notes, has a way of seeing the world that is one-of-a-kind.  “With THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL, Wes has created a true caper comedy with disguises and chases and escapes, yet there’s always that bittersweet undertone that is so distinctive,” he says.  “His films always have this idiosyncratic lightness of touch inside which lie strong themes and emotions.  It’s an unusual blend that no one else can repeat because it comes from inside Wes, from his personal sense of humor and perception of the world.”

He continues:  “Wes is exacting with his actors in a very positive way.  He’s always refining a moment until it has just the right feel, the right lightness.  Speed of delivery is something he really values because this kind of material needs that kind of liveliness.  Ultimately, he created his own made-up time and world where people are braver, more principled and have more fun.”

Underneath all of Gustave’s superficial fastidiousness is a kind of basic emotional core, a devotedness, sentimentality and affection that provide much of the story’s emotional center.  Observes co-star Edward Norton, whose character is in pursuit of Gustave:  “Gustave is up there with the greatest characters Wes has created and nobody could have played it more perfectly than Ralph.  Gustave is contradictory – he has this incredibly haughty self-righteous view of proper values and at the same time he is ferociously loyal. He’s like a glimpse into an old world right before it disappears.”

Fox Searchlight Pictures in association with Indian Paintbrush and Studio Babelsberg present, an American Empirical Picture, THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL, directed and written by Wes Anderson and story by Anderson & Hugo Guinness.  The film stars Ralph Fiennes, Tony Revolori,  F. Murray Abraham, Mathieu Amalric, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Jude Law, Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Saoirse Ronan, Jason Schwartzman, Tilda Swinton, Tom Wilkinson and Owen Wilson.

The creative team includes producers Wes Anderson, Scott Rudin, Steven Rales and Jeremy Dawson, executive producers Molly Cooper, Charlie Woebcken, Christoph Fisser and Henning Molfenter, co-producer Jane Frazer, director of photography Robert Yeoman, A.S.C., production designer Adam Stockhausen, editor Barney Pilling, music supervisor Randall Poster, original music by Alexandre Desplat, associate producer Octavia Peissel and co-producer for Scott Rudin Productions Eli Bush.