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The Grand Budapest Hotel: A Grand Film
The Grand Budapest Hotel is a film that cannot be summed up briefly by any means. Wes Anderson has created and directed a brilliant drama-comedy inspired by the writings of Stefan Zweig. Zweig is a late 19th Century Austrian novelist, playwright, journalist and biographer, best known for The Royal Game and Amok.
The Grand Budapest Hotel recounts the adventures of Gustave H (Ralph Fiennes) a concierge legend at a famous; you guessed it, European hotel, and Zero Moustafa (Tony Revolori), a lobby boy that becomes his most trusted and loyal friend.
In the present a teenage girl approaches a monument to a writer in a cemetery, known as “The Author” (Tom Wilkinson). We then go back in time to 1985, The Author begins narrating the tale about a trip he made to The Grand Budapest Hotel in 1968.
Located in the fiction Republic of Zubrowka, a European alpine state ravaged by war and poverty, the Young Author (Jude Law) starts narrating the accounts he has found about the once luxurious and hustling hotel that has fallen on difficult times. Many of the lustrous facilities which were once an icon in The Grand Budapest Hotel have fallen beyond repair, and its guests are few. While talking to the lobby boy named Mr.Jean (Jason Schwartzman), The Author inquires about an elderly man sitting in the lobby and discovers he is the hotel’s owner, Zero Moustafa (F. Murray Abraham) whom promptly notices The Writer and the Lobby Boy observing him. While in a spa Zero asks The Writer “Did Mr.Jean have a word or two to share with you about the aged proprietor of this establishment?” The Writer then says “I must confess, sir, I did, myself, inquire about you.” Zero Moustafa then pokes fun at Mr. Jean, saying “We can’t claim he’s a first- or, in earnest, even a second-rate concierge.” Mr. Moustafa then invites the Young Author to “Dine with me tonight, and it will be my pleasure and, indeed, my privilege to tell you my story.”
There are four characteristics you will notice in The Grand Budapest Hotel:
Part One: Tracking shot: Which are many, and all very well placed. This technique creates movement and energy, ans that’s what makes The Grand Budapest Hotel feel so alive.
Part Two: Fantastic symmetry: This is an obsession I approve of as someone who loves symmetry, and is it ever eye candy. Wes Anderson cannot resist the draw of reciprocal arrangement of props and characters in front of his camera in The Grand Budapest Hotel and this works so well with the next characteristic.
Part Three: Colour Palette and Patterns: When you watch The Grand Budapest Hotel, It will become very apparent that there is a certain colour scheme going on along with an agglomeration of patterns scattered throughout the film. Anderson makes patterns out of the furniture in the titular hotel’s lobby, and litters the mountainside it sits atop with an arrangement of evergreens that appears to be most deliberate to achieve his symmetrical madness.
Part Four: The Wes Anderson Regulars: Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Willem Dafoe, Adrien Brody and Jeff Goldblum among many others make appearances in The Grand Budapest Hotel, I for one am glad. These are all actors that are well received and play their parts no matter how small, extraordinarily well. One gripe I have, The Hotel needed more Bill Murray.
The story begins when the elderly Mr. Moustafa starts narrating over dinner to The Author about his adventures. Set in 1932, during the hotel’s glory days when the young Zero (Tony Revolori) was a lobby boy. Zubrowka is on the verge of war, but this is to no concern to Monsieur Gustave H, The Grand Budapest’s devoted and most loyal conierge. Monsieur Gustave has a particular taste in women and the requirements were always the same. They had to be: “rich, old, insecure, vain, superficial, blonde, needy.”
Indeed M. Gustave is a strange character, and has become my favourite character in a movie and someone who I have come to admire. His quick wit, charismatic personality, brash humour and love for L’air de panache all complement his style and flair very well. Ralph Fiennes is perfect as the legendary concierge.
Young Zero Moustafa, is someone who, when I first watched the movie I did not like. He seemed to be awkward on screen, to the point where I originally thought it was bad acting. After I watched the movie for the first time, I read the script and realized that Tony Revolori played Zero’s character to a tee. It’s not that he is awkward, Zero is the complement to M. Gustave H. They make a fantastic duo, both are mental equals.
Gustave courts and spends the night with Madame Celine Villeneuve “Madame D” Desgoffe und Taxis (Tilda Swinton) prior to her departure from The Grand Budapest. One month later, he is informed that she has died under mysterious circumstances. Taking Zero along, he races to her wake and the reading of her will, where Deputy Kovacs (Jeff Goldblum) the executor of the will, reveals that she has bequeathed Gustave Boy with Apple, a very valuable painting, in her will. This enrages Madame D’s family, all of whom wanted to inherit the painting. Dmitri Desgoffe und taxis (Adrien Brody) lashes out at Gustave and accuses him of murder among other repulsive adjectives and nouns. Gustave, with the help of Zero, steals Boy with Apple and returns to The Grand Budapest Hotel, Gustave makes a pact with Zero: in return for his help during the journey, he will make Zero his only heir.
Many characters are introduced, all played perfectly by their actors, most notably is Willem Dafoe as J. G. Jopling. A ruthless, cold-blooded assassin working for Dmitri, who throws Kovac’s cat (such a sad moment in the movie, that poor cat) out a window when he refuses to work with Dimitri, then pursues, and kills Kovac.
After being framed for murder by a forced testimony by Serge X (Mathieu Amalric), Madame D’s butler, Gustave is arrested. Zero helps M. Gustave escape prison by sending stoneworking tools concealed inside cakes made by Zero’s fiancee Agatha (Saoirse Ronan). She is very beautiful, brave and bears a birthmark in the shape of Mexico on her cheek.
Along with some fellow convicts, Gustave digs his way out of his cell and is promptly chased by Jopling. They travel to a mountaintop monastery where Serge X, the only person who is able to clear Gustave’s name, is strangled by Jopling, who escapes down the mountain on skis, pursued by Gustave and Zero in a stolen sled. A visual and symmetrical chase scene occurs. During a face-off at the edge of a cliff, Zero pushes Jopling to his death and rescues Gustave.
Agatha joins the two, and agrees to retrieve the painting. Dimitri discovers her. A chase and chaotic gunfight in which everyone misses their target before Gustave’s innocence is finally proven by Agatha discovering that there’s a sealed envelope behind Boy with Apple. The envelope reveals the identity of Madame D’s murderer and a will that only takes effect if she is murdered. She leaves much of her fortune, the hotel, and the painting to Gustave.
The Grand Budapest Hotel is a visual masterpiece. The use of symmetry and a bright matte colour pallet along with tracking shots make for a film that comes alive on screen. Wes Anderson has created a classic film that is nominated for Four Golden Globes: Best Film, Best Director, Best Actor (Ralph Fiennes) and Best Screenplay. The Grand Budapest Hotel in this reviewer’s opinion is one of the best movies that came out in 2014. With minor grievances such as the semi awkwardness but rightfully cast Tony Revolori, and not enough Bill Murray, The Grand Budapest Hotel has become my favourite movie, surpassing Kenneth Branagh’s 1996 Hamlet. The Grand Budapest Hotel deserves a near perfect 9/10.