“You see, there are still faint glimmers of civilization left in this barbaric slaughterhouse that was once known as humanity. Indeed that’s what we provide in our own modest, humble, insignificant…
Oh, fuck it!”
I remember talking about Wes Anderson films with a dear friend, and she compared Anderson pieces like an artwork. Despite not having a wide commercial appeal, but his films possessed one of a kind appeal for the admirers. And i am completely agreed with her sentiment. The latest addition just established that opinion just like the previous works in his repertoire. The Grand Budapest Hotel which was released earlier this year in Berlinale and winning the Silver Bear award. It is finally released on iTunes and i finally get a chance to enjoy the magical world of Anderson one more time.
In a way The Grand Budapest Hotel is like a matryoshka doll. It is a story within a story, within a story. We saw a girl walking through a park to a bust of The Author. She sat in a nearby bench to read a book, entitled The Grand Budapest Hotel, which seemed to be The Author’s magnum opus. Then we met the elderly Author, as he recount the tale of his encounter decades ago with an elderly, Zero Moustafa (F. Murray Abraham) during his stay at The Grand Budapest Hotel. Mr Zero Moustafa, the owner of the establishment himself, shared the tale of his life recounting the tale of his youth (played by new comer, Tony Revolori), his mentor Monsieur Gustave H. (Ralph Fiennes), the love of his life Agatha (Saoirse Ronan), The Grand Budapest Hotel in its glory days, and a life changing event that transpired. You see, Monsieur Gustave was many things: wonderful concierge, an avid fan of poetry, and known for his ‘exceptional service’ especially for his rich, blonde, golden-aged clienteles. Until one of them Madame Céline Villeneuve Desgoffe und Taxis aka Madame D (Tilda Swinton) curiously passed away and left a precious painting, Boy with Apple by Johannes Van Hoytl, which angered the Desgoffe und Taxis family and put him under a threat.
Like many of Anderson works, this is a truly odd piece of film in the most wonderful way. While it can be easily described as comedy, the film is part mystery, part thriller, part many-things-else. Set in a fictional european country, the Republik of Zubrowka, in the resort of retreat and spa of Nebelsbad, in the 1930s, the Hotel is at the peak of its glory despite being on the verge of war. The film timeline include a war are crucial to the changes that occurred to The Grand Budapest Hotel throughout the years. It is also reflection to a similar fate that fallen upon true events that happened during the time period, done with subtlety yet still deliver an undertones of tension for me. The changes that made the hotel felt more like a character in the film rather than a mere backdrop, somekind of silent witness that oversaw the events that unfolds throughout the film.
Unlike the previous films, the theme of dysfunctional relationship of families are not as pronounced (although the Desgoffe und Taxis family certainly seemed dysfunctional). The family are absent, just like Zero’s existing without one. Yet there’s an interesting affiliation formed between the master (Gustave) and the protege (Zero) as their relationship blossomed into one that could resemble a father-and-son bond. There was an on-and-off remarks about companionship and solitude. It appears most pronounced in the beginning as well as toward the end. It made me think of Roald Dahl stories, in a way. Like there were darkness and poignancy lurking under the pink, Katy Perry’s california girl cotton candy façade that is Grand Budapest Hotel.
The film ensamble, made out of a tapestry of Anderson past collaborators (Wilson, Schwartzman, Brody, Murray, Swinton, etc) and new addition (that includes the lead and supporting actors) Ralph Fiennes, Tony Revolori, Saoirse Ronan. Ralph Fiennes in particular is glorious in his role. He builds the character of Monsieur Gustave like the way he speaks, a mixture of well mannered brit, a bit of cussing, and a bit of fruitiness (“darling”). Zero’s dead-panned throughout the film as a sounding board to Gustave hilarity. The rest of the cast are stupendous! Everyone is a character with a certain level of comic theatricality. Every character brought something different accent wise, Dafoe as the villain speak in a little german, Seydoux brought a little bit of french, while Ronan speak with a little irish. Wes Anderson obviously filled the film with his jest in a manner of sophisticated hilarity.I had such a great time seeing each and everyone of his characters amused me in this particular film.
As good as the actor the film would never be fully realised without the role of the art and production department, who created the fictitious setting of the Budapest Hotel based from a facade of an existing department store. Mixing the 1900s era art nouveau with vivid bubblegum colors that made me think of barbie doll house (especially when the shots has miniature effects in them). The end result is an improved, whimsical world a la Wes, a more polished version than what existed in his previous films. Solely relying on original score by Desplat, the wintry landscape of was brought to live through instrumental music, without any pop music in sight (which i thought was another signature of Anderson’s films). Anderson signature pan-and-tilt as well as long tracking shots are used frequently here. His favor towards symmetry and dead-centeredness are prominent. Making each frame of the film looked like a 2-dimensional storybook. It actually reminds me of pages from Hergé’s Tintin comic books (if an actual Tintin live action should be made, i vote for Wes Anderson to direct it).
I remember talking about Wes Anderson films with a dear friend, and she compared Anderson pieces like an artwork. It may not have a wide commercial appeal, but it possess one of a kind appeal for the admirers. I couldn’t put it better myself, everything that he did possess a special mark of an auteur. And The Grand Budapest Hotel, in its whimsical and joyful glory, might be his the best one, yet!
The film is the highest grossing Wes Anderson film, already hits the $100 million mark and raising (surpasing The Royal Tenenbaums (2001) $71 milion and Moonrise Kingdom (2012) $68 million). It is dubbed the highest grossing indie film of 2014 (so far). And although te Grand Budapest Hotel was not released in Indonesia, but it was available on iTunes, and you can pre-order the DVD/Blu Ray now as it will be released on June 17.
THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL (2014)
DIRECTOR Wes Anderson | PRODUCER Wes Anderson, Jeremy Dawson, Steven M. Rales, Scott Rudin | WRITER Wes Anderson | CINEMATOGRAPHER Robert Yeoman | MUSIC Alexandre Desplat | EDITOR Barney Pilling | STUDIO American Empirical Pictures, Indian Paintbrush, Studio Babelsberg | DISTRIBUTOR Fox Searchlight Pictures | COUNTRY United States, Germany | RUNNING TIME 99 minutes | BUDGET EUR 23 Million | RATING R for language, some sexual content and violence | RELEASE February 6, 2014 (Berlinale)
STARRING Ralph Fiennes, F. Murray Abraham, Edward Norton, Mathieu Almaric, Saoirse Ronan, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Léa Seydoux, Jeff Goldblum. Jason Schwartzman, Jude Law, Tilda Swinton, Harvey Keitel, Tom Wilkinson, Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Tony Revolori
DID YOU KNOW? The paintings featured in the film are specially commissioned project. There were a lot of paintings in the film, and they were prominently featured (i think i saw some that looked like Gustav Klimt, that were apparently an actual repro, not another gag). The vulgar yet hillarious ‘Two Lesbians Masturbating’ piece is created by Rich Pellegrino in the style of Egon Schielle. The coveted ‘Boy with Apple’ was not created by the fictitious Johannes van Hoytl (read more about the artwork) but by a london-based Michael Taylor and modeled by Ed Munro, who was cast after he sent his photo to a casting agent who was looking for blonde-haired boy with ballet dancer figure.
Learn more about the amazing world of Zubrowka at the Akademie!
I am aware that i have been rambling for about 1000 words now, but i need to add this little cute addition (especially for those of you who can bake, which i unfortunately can not):
Credits: videos are from Fox Searchlight Youtube chanel, the pictures are from IMDb, akademiezabrowka, etc.