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The Grand Budapest Hotel is a 2014 comedy-drama film written and directed by Wes Anderson, from a story by Anderson and Hugo Guinness, inspired by the writings of Stefan Zweig, to whom Anderson wrote the film as a tribute. The film stars an ensemble cast consisting of Ralph Fiennes, F. Murray Abraham, Mathieu Amalric, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Harvey Keitel, Jude Law, Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Saoirse Ronan, Jason Schwartzman, Léa Seydoux, Tilda Swinton, Tom Wilkinson, Owen Wilson, and introducing Tony Revolori.

The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Grand Budapest Hotel.png
Theatrical release poster
Directed byWes Anderson
Produced by
Screenplay byWes Anderson
Story by
Starring
Music byAlexandre Desplat
CinematographyRobert Yeoman
Edited byBarney Pilling
Production
companies
Distributed byFox Searchlight Pictures
Release date
  • 6 February 2014 (2014-02-06) (Berlin)
  • 6 March 2014 (2014-03-06) (Germany)
  • 7 March 2014 (2014-03-07) (United States & United Kingdom)
Running time
100 minutes[1]
Country
  • United States[2]
  • Germany
LanguageEnglish
Budget23 million[3]
($25 million)[4]
Box office$174.8 million[4]

Set in the fictional war-torn European country Zubrowka in the 1930s, The Grand Budapest Hotel tells the story and friendship of two people: a concierge and the lobby boy as they team up for several misadventures while trying to prove Gustave's innocence after he was framed for murder.

The film is an American-German co-production[2] that was financed by German financial companies and film-funding organizations and filmed in Germany.[5][6][7] The Grand Budapest Hotel released to widespread critical acclaim and was financially successful, grossing about $175 million worldwide on a $25 million budget, and was included in several critics' year-end top-10 lists.[8][9][10][11]

The film won the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy and garnered three more Golden Globe Award nominations, including Best Director for Anderson.[12] It was nominated for nine Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director for Anderson, and won four Oscars for Best Costume Design, Best Makeup and Hairstyling, Best Production Design and Best Original Score.[13] In a 2016 BBC poll, several critics voted the film the 21st greatest film of the 21st century.[14]

PlotEdit

In present day, a teenage girl approaches the gravestone of a celebrated man labeled simply “Author.” The film cuts to 1985 as the Author prepares to recount his visit to The Grand Budapest Hotel in August 1968. The film then flashes back to that setting when the Author was a much younger man and the once beautiful hotel has fallen into disrepair. By happenstance, the Author meets the hotel's proprietor, Mr. Zero Moustafa, who is an admirer of the Author's writing and invites him to dinner. Over their meal, Zero narrates the tale of how he came to own the hotel.

The film cuts to 1932 when the hotel was flourishing and Zero was working as a lobby boy. The hotel’s meticulous and highly competent concierge, Monsieur Gustave H., has a habit of sleeping with wealthy older guests. He has been having an affair with Madame Céline Villeneuve Desgoffe und Taxis, a wealthy dowager countess in her 80s, which has gone on for almost 20 years.

A month after Madame D.'s last visit, Gustave learns that she has died. He and Zero travel to Madame D.'s family residence to pay his respects. They arrive to find her children, extended family, and lawyer, Deputy Kovacs, awaiting the reading of the Madame D.'s will. Kovacs is only able to announce that Madame D. has left Gustave the Renaissance-era portrait Boy with Apple before Madame D.’s son Dmitri demands Gustave be arrested. Gustave and Zero boldly abscond with the priceless painting.

Once back at the Grand Budapest, they hide the painting in the hotel safe; however, Gustave is soon arrested for the murder of Madame D. While awaiting trial in prison, he befriends inmates who hatch an escape plan. He has Zero place digging tools inside the pastries that Zero's girlfriend and baker, Agatha, makes and delivers. Gustave and the other men tunnel out and part ways. Zero and Gustave return to the Grand Budapest with the help of the Society of the Crossed Keys, a worldwide network of hotel concierges that call in favors to assist each other.

A war has broken out, and the Grand Budapest has been taken over by the country’s army for their high-command. Agatha sneaks in to retrieve Boy with Apple so they can run away, sell it and live off the proceeds. Just as she comes out with the painting, however, Dmitri enters the hotel and spots her with the painting. Gustave and Zero run inside to save her as she tries to evade Dmitri. Dmitri opens fire on them, and a gun battle erupts involving many of the officers staying in the hotel. Agatha’s attempt to escape leaves her and Zero hanging from an exterior balcony before falling into a truckload of pastries which breaks their fall.

Agatha discovers a note hidden on the back of the painting that states that if Madame D.’s death was caused by murder, she is leaving everything to Gustave. Gustave becomes one of the wealthiest men in the country, and the owner of The Grand Budapest Hotel, which Madame D. also owned. After presiding over Agatha's and Zero's wedding, Gustave travels with the newlyweds by train when they are stopped by an army death squad. Gustave begins to fight the men when they tear up Zero's transit paper and is shot dead. As Gustave’s only heir, Zero inherits everything, but negotiations with the new government leave him with only the hotel which he keeps for his happy memories of Agatha and their infant son who both died two years later of "Prussian grippe."

In 1968, the Author checks out of the hotel never to return. Eventually, the Author publishes this story as a novel which the young woman from the beginning reads on a bench beside the Author's memorial grave marker in the snowy old cemetery.

CastEdit

  • Ralph Fiennes as M. Gustave, a concierge at the Grand Budapest Hotel.
  • F. Murray Abraham as Mr. Moustafa, an older version of Zero Moustafa.
  • Tony Revolori as Zero Moustafa, a bellhop who befriends M. Gustave.
  • Mathieu Amalric as Serge X, a shifty butler working for Madame D.
  • Adrien Brody as Dmitri, the son of Madame D.
  • Willem Dafoe as J.G. Jopling, an assassin that has connections with Dmitri.
  • Jeff Goldblum as Deputy Kovacs, a lawyer working for the unnamed owner of the Grand Budapest Hotel.
  • Harvey Keitel as Ludwig, the leader of the prisoners at the prison where M. Gustave is incarcerated in.
  • Jude Law as Young Writer, a man who stays at the Grand Budapest Hotel.
  • Bill Murray as M. Ivan, a member of the Society of the Crossed Keys who is a friend of M. Gustave.
  • Edward Norton as Albert Henckels, an inspector who investigates the murder of Madame D.
  • Milton Welsh as Franz Müller
  • Saoirse Ronan as Agatha, a baker at Mendl's who is Zero's girlfriend.
  • Wolfram Nielacny as Herr Becker
  • Jason Schwartzman as M. Jean, a member of the Society of the Crossed Keys.
  • Léa Seydoux as Clotilde, a maid that works for Madame D.
  • Tilda Swinton as Madame D., a wealthy dowager countess and the mother of Dmitri who is the secret owner of the Grand Budapest Hotel.
  • Tom Wilkinson as Author, an older version of the young writer who writes about the exploits of M. Gustave and Zero Moustafa.
  • Owen Wilson as M. Chuck, a member of the Society of the Crossed Keys.
  • Larry Pine as Mr. Mosher
  • Giselda Volodi [it] as Serge's sister
  • Florian Lukas as Pinky, a prisoner who M. Gustave befriends.
  • Karl Markovics as Wolf
  • Volker Michalowski [de] as Günther
  • Neal Huff as Lieutenant
  • Bob Balaban as M. Martin, a member of the Society of the Crossed Keys.
  • Fisher Stevens as M. Robin, a member of the Society of the Crossed Keys.
  • Wallace Wolodarsky as M. Georges, a member of the Society of the Crossed Keys.
  • Waris Ahluwalia as M. Dino, a member of the Society of the Crossed Keys.
  • Lucas Hedges as Pump Attendant

ProductionEdit

DevelopmentEdit

The Grand Budapest Hotel is an American-German-British co-production of Wes Anderson's American Empirical Pictures (US), Indian Paintbrush (US),[15][16][17] Neunzehnte Babelsberg Film GmbH (Germany) and Grand Budapest Limited (UK).[6][7][18][19] The film was funded by the German Federal Film Fund (DFFF), Mitteldeutsche Medienförderung, Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg as well as Medien- und Filmgesellschaft Baden-Württemberg.[6][20]

Anderson and Guinness' story was inspired by several works by the Austrian writer Stefan Zweig, particularly the novella Twenty-Four Hours in the Life of a Woman (1927), the novels Beware of Pity (1939) and The Post Office Girl (1982), and his autobiography The World of Yesterday (1934–42).[21][22] Wes Anderson suggested editor Barney Pilling watch Ernst Lubitsch's The Shop Around the Corner and the films of Jacques Tati as references.[23]

CastingEdit

In 2012, it was rumored that Johnny Depp was in the film, but Anderson later denied the rumor in an interview with the Huffington Post.[24] Tilda Swinton replaced Angela Lansbury as Madame D. when Lansbury was unavailable due to commitments with a theater production of Driving Miss Daisy.[25][26]

Casting the character, Zero, proved to be difficult, as casting director Douglas Aibel was in search for "a relatively unknown teenage boy, preferably of Arabic origin, to carry the role". Tony Revolori got the part by sending an audition tape.[27]

FilmingEdit

Görlitz Department Store in Görlitz, Germany, one of the principal locations
Jelení skok (stag jump) near Karlovy Vary (Carlsbad), with the Hotel Imperial in the background
 
Palace Bristol Hotel in Karlovy Vary (Carlsbad), Czech Republic was not in the film but was one of the inspirations in designing the outer façade of the fictional Grand Budapest Hotel.

It was filmed for the most part on location in Germany, mainly in Görlitz and other parts of Saxony, as well as at Studio Babelsberg.[28] Principal photography began in January 2013 on location in Berlin and Görlitz.[29] One of the principal locations was the defunct Görlitz Department Store, a huge Jugendstil department store with a giant atrium, one of the few such department stores in Germany to survive World War II. It served as the atrium lobby of the hotel.[28] The widow's mansion was filmed partially within Schloss (castle) Waldenburg.[30] Filming concluded in March 2013.

Anderson showed a great creativity by using different aspect ratios as storytelling tools. The movie is divided between three different time periods: 1985, 1968 and 1932. We know all the time in which time period the scene is taking place thanks to the use of the most characteristic aspect ratio in the cinema of that time. At the start of the film we are in 1985, and the ratio used is the standard 16:9 for contemporary films and television. Then, we go back to 1968, changing the to a 2.35:1 CinemaScope ratio, which is very wide and panoramic. Finally, the movie goes back in time to 1932, using then the 4:3 academy ratio, very popular in the beginning of Hollywood, the ratio of Citizen Kane. The most peculiar aspect of 4:3 is the two vertical black bands that make the image more similar to a square than to the rectangle of films today, without reaching the perfect square of the 1:1 Polaroid ratio.

For wide shots of the hotel, Anderson used a three-meter-tall (10 ft) handmade miniature model, as he felt that audiences would know that the shot was artificial, computer-generated effects or otherwise, commenting: "The particular brand of artificiality that I like to use is an old-fashioned one."[31] He had previously used miniatures in The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou and more extensively in Fantastic Mr. Fox. In designing the hotel, Anderson and production designer Adam Stockhausen did extensive research, looking at vintage images at the Library of Congress of hotels and European vacation spots. Also visited were existing locales such as the pastel-pink Palace Bristol Hotel[32] and the Grandhotel Pupp, both in the spa town of Karlovy Vary (Carlsbad), Czech Republic as well as the Grandhotel Gellért in Budapest, Hungary.[33][34] The model used was a composite of these different real grand hotels and multiple props in varying scales were made: the model represented a scale measurement of 4 meters (14 ft) long and 2 meters (7 ft) deep, the tree-spotted hill on which it stood was a different scale, and finally the funicular railway in the foreground was built to a third scale to capture it best cinematically.[31]

The painting in the film, Boy with Apple, supposedly a Renaissance masterpiece by one Johannes Van Hoytl the Younger, is a fictional piece commissioned by Anderson and painted in four months by contemporary painter Michael Taylor.[35] Likewise the much sought after pastry, Herr Mendl's courtesan au chocolat, is a humorous fictional creation of Wes Anderson's, as a symbol of the courtesan lifestyle of the concierge, the triple tier form of the story, and as an element to escape prison.[36] The bespoke pastry was produced by a local baker in Görlitz. The brief was to come up with something related to a classic religieuse, which is French for 'nun', with chocolate covered stacked profiteroles resembling a nun in black robes.[37] The fake newspapers in the film feature mainly original text, but also use some excerpts from three Wikipedia articles.[38]

According to Robert Yeoman, filming proved to be difficult because natural light lasted between seven and a half or eight hours and the film stock was slow. The crew solved those problems by working faster through the day to get the shots.[39]

The visual effects in the film were created by the German company LUXX Studios.[40][41]

SoundtrackEdit

The Grand Budapest Hotel: Original Soundtrack
 
Soundtrack album by
Released2 February 2014
StudioAir Studios, Abbey Road Studios, Studio Guillaume Tell, St. Jude-on-the-Hill (London).[42]
GenreSoundtrack
Length59:50
LabelABKCO 1877181302
ProducerWes Anderson, Randall Poster
Wes Anderson film soundtrack chronology
Moonrise Kingdom
(2012)
The Grand Budapest Hotel: Original Soundtrack
(2014)
Isle of Dogs
(2018)
Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
Allmusic     [43]

The Oscar-winning soundtrack is composed by Alexandre Desplat, who worked with Anderson previously on Fantastic Mr. Fox and Moonrise Kingdom. It is co-produced by Anderson with music supervisor Randall Poster; they, too, worked together on Moonrise Kingdom. The original music is by Desplat, along with Russian folk songs together with pieces composed by Öse Schuppel, Siegfried Behrend, and Vitaly Gnutov,[44] and performed by the Osipov State Russian Folk Orchestra.[45]

Wes Anderson and Randall Poster chose the distinctive sound of the balalaika to establish the musical voice of the film[46] and managed to gather two orchestras for a total of 35 balalaika musicians for the recording of the soundtrack including the France-based "Saint Georges" Balalaika Orchestra [fr] and the State Academic Russian Folk Ensemble "Russia" [ru] from Moscow.[47][48] Desplat’s use of the balalaika begins with “Mr. Moustafa” but it returns over and over again.[49] Other instruments in this soundtrack include alphorns, whistles, organ, male choir, bells and cimbalom.[50][51]

The 32 tracks, with orchestral elements, keyboard instruments and balalaikas, feature eclectic variations and central European melodic themes. Balalaikas are used in "Overture: M. Gustave H" and church organs in "Last Will and Testament". A music box interlude punctuates "Up the Stairs / Down the Hall", and there are haunted-house piano stylings in "Mr. Moustafa". Harpsichords and strings are featured in the baroque piece, "Concerto for Lute and Plucked Strings I. Moderato".[52] The opening song, the Appenzell yodel "s'Rothe-Zäuerli" by Ruedi and Werner Roth, is from the Swiss folk group's Öse Schuppel's album Appenzeller Zäuerli.[53]

Track listingEdit

All tracks are written by Alexandre Desplat, except where noted.

No.TitleLength
1."s'Rothe-Zäuerli" (Rüdi Roth & Werner Roth, performed by Öse Schuppel)1:12
2."The Alpine Sudetenwaltz"0:36
3."Mr. Moustafa"3:03
4."Overture: M. Gustave H"0:30
5."A Prayer for Madame D"1:20
6."The New Lobby Boy"2:17
7."Concerto for Lute and Plucked Strings I. Moderato" (Antonio Vivaldi, performed by DZO Chamber Orchestra (cond. Siegfried Behrend))2:52
8."Daylight Express to Lutz"2:16
9."Schloss Lutz Overture"0:32
10."The Family Desgoffe Und Taxis"1:49
11."Last Will and Testament"2:16
12."Up the Stairs/Down the Hall"0:27
13."Night Train to Nebelsbad"1:44
14."The Lutz Police Militia"0:49
15."Check Point 19 Criminal Internment Camp Overture"0:11
16."The Linden Tree" (Pavel Kulikov, performed by the Osipov State Russian Folk Orchestra (cond. Vitaly Gnutov))2:24
17."J.G. Jopling, Private Inquiry Agent"1:28
18."A Dash of Salt (Ludwig's Theme)"1:32
19."The Cold-Blooded Murder of Deputy Vilmos Kovacs"2:47
20."Escape Concerto"2:12
21."The War (Zero's Theme)"1:01
22."No Safe-House"1:32
23."The Society of the Crossed Keys"2:21
24."M. Ivan"1:15
25."Lot 117"0:30
26."Third Class Carriage"1:20
27."Canto at Gabelmeister's Peak"5:35
28."A Troops Barracks (Requiem for the Grand Budapest)"5:18
29."Cleared of All Charges"1:10
30."The Mystical Union"1:26
31."Kamarinskaya" (Mikhail Glinka, performed by the Osipov State Russian Folk Orchestra (cond. Vitaly Gnutov))2:43
32."Moonshine" (Traditional, arr. Alexandre Desplat)3:21
Total length:59:50

ReleaseEdit

The film was released on 7 March 2014 and was the opening film for the 64th Berlin International Film Festival in February 2014.[54] At Berlin, the film won the Jury Grand Prix Silver Bear award.[55]

Home mediaEdit

The Grand Budapest Hotel was released on DVD and Blu-ray on 17 June 2014 in the United States[56] and on 7 July 2014 in the United Kingdom[57]

ReceptionEdit

Box officeEdit

The Grand Budapest Hotel has grossed $59.3 million in the United States and Canada, and $115.5 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $174.8 million.[58]

The film was Anderson's most successful live-action film in the United Kingdom, reaching number one at the UK box office in its third week with a gross of £6.31 million.[59] The film was also Anderson's first number one film in the UK.[59]

In North America, the film opened in four cinemas at number 17 in its first weekend, with US$811,166.[60] In its second weekend, the film moved up to number eight, grossing an additional US$3,638,041.[61] In its third weekend, the film moved up to number seven, grossing US$6,787,955.[62] In its fourth weekend, the film moved up to number six, grossing US$8,539,795.[63]

Critical responseEdit

On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds a 91% approval rating based on 297 reviews, with an average rating of 8.41/10. The website's critics consensus reads, "Typically stylish but deceptively thoughtful, The Grand Budapest Hotel finds Wes Anderson once again using ornate visual environments to explore deeply emotional ideas."[64] Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned the film a score of 88 out of 100 based on 48 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".[65]

Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter gave the film a positive review, saying "In a very appealing if outre way, its sensibility and concerns are very much those of an earlier, more elegant era, meaning that the film's deepest intentions will fly far over the heads of most modern filmgoers."[66] Dave Calhoun of Time Out gave the film four out of five stars, saying "The film's shaggy-dog, sort-of-whodunit yarn offers laughs and energy that make this Anderson's most fun film since Rushmore."[67] Jocelyn Noveck of the Associated Press gave the film three and a half stars out of four, saying "In the end it's Fiennes who makes the biggest impression. His stylized, rapid-fire delivery, dry wit and cheerful profanity keep the movie bubbling along. Here's to further Fiennes-Anderson collaborations."[68] Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly gave the film an A-, saying "I've had my Wes Anderson breakthrough – or maybe it's that he's had his. The Grand Budapest Hotel is a marvelous contraption, a wheels-within-wheels thriller that's pure oxygenated movie play."[69] Joe Neumaier of the New York Daily News gave the film three out of five stars, saying "As with all of Anderson's films, the magic is in the cast. Fiennes, with his rapid-fire delivery and rapier mustache, is hilarious, dapper and total perfection."[70]

Peter Travers of Rolling Stone gave the film three and a half out of four stars, saying "It's a filigreed toy box of a movie, so delicious-looking you may want to lick the screen. It is also, in the Anderson manner, shot through with humor, heartbreak and a bruised romantic's view of the past."[71] Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times gave the film a positive review, saying "Anderson works so assiduously to create obsessively detailed on-screen worlds that the effect has sometimes been hermetic, even stifling. "The Grand Budapest," however, is anything but."[72] Stephen Whitty of the Newark Star-Ledger gave the film three and a half stars out of four, saying "While Anderson delights in creating a fictional (but very real) mittel-Europe, he also does it with the craft of old Hollywood, using carefully made miniatures and handpainted backdrops."[73] A. O. Scott of The New York Times gave the film a positive review, saying "This movie makes a marvelous mockery of history, turning its horrors into a series of graceful jokes and mischievous gestures. You can call this escapism if you like. You can also think of it as revenge."[74] Peter Howell of the Toronto Star gave the film four out of four stars, saying "The entire movie is like a giant, elaborately decorated cake, created by this most exacting of film craftsmen. And how tasty it is!"[75]

Ty Burr of The Boston Globe gave the film three and a half stars out of four, saying "With The Grand Budapest Hotel, Wes Anderson is up to his old tricks but with a magnanimous new confidence that feels like a gift."[76] Bruce Ingram of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film four out of five stars, saying "It's quintessential Anderson, in other words, but also an unabashed entertainment. And that's something to see."[77] Steven Rea of The Philadelphia Inquirer gave the film four out of four stars, saying "The Grand Budapest Hotel is by far the most headlong comedic affair in Anderson's canon. It's practically Marx Brothers-ian at moments. And Fiennes – who knew he was capable of such wicked, witty timing?!"[78] Christopher Orr of The Atlantic gave the film a positive review, saying "The comedy in The Grand Budapest Hotel is among the broadest yet undertaken by Anderson. But amid the frenzied hubbub, there are intimations of a darker, sadder history unfolding."[79] A.A. Dowd of The A.V. Club reviewed the film positively, saying "Anderson's latest invention, The Grand Budapest Hotel, may be his most meticulously realized, beginning with the towering, fictional building for which it's named."[80]

James Berardinelli of ReelViews gave the film three out of four stars, saying "It offers an engaging 90+ minutes of unconventional, comedy-tinged adventure that references numerous classic movies while developing a style and narrative approach all its own."[81] Moira MacDonald of The Seattle Times gave the film three and a half stars out of four, saying "Every frame is carefully composed like the illustrations from a beloved book (characters are precisely centered; costumes are elaborately literal); the dialogue feels both unexpected and happily familiar."[82] Colin Covert of the Star Tribune gave the film four out of four stars, saying "I'm not sure what the formal definition of a masterpiece is, but 'The Grand Budapest Hotel strikes me as something very close."[83] Ann Hornaday of The Washington Post gave the film three out of four stars, saying "If Anderson buries relatively little moral substance under lavish dollops of rich cream, at least he, like his fascinating protagonist, sustains the illusion with a marvelous grace."[84] Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle gave the film four out of four stars, saying "The movie's sad undertone saves The Grand Budapest Hotel from its own zaniness – or better yet, elevates the zaniness, making it feel like an assertion of some right to be silly, or some fundamental human expression."[85]

AccoladesEdit

ReferencesEdit

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