On Wes Anderson’s Grand Budapest Hotel

Anca Iațin
6 min readJan 26, 2015

There’s more to it than meets the eye

I don’t usually write about movies, but right now I have to — in my limited, maybe coarse way.
When I first watched the trailer, I wasn’t that interested — I have no idea why. Having seen the movie now, (a bit late, I admit, but nevertheless) well … it’s a completely different experience.

The Grand Budapest Hotel was enormously pleasant to my eye — the symmetry and even geometry of the frames, the neat, cleanliness of the elements, the vibrant, rich colours and contrast, the great cast … and to my ear — the exquisite language used (except for the vulgar, yet amusing parts, of course).

I’ll try to tell the story of the movie, including my observations, and spoil as less as I can. (I apologize in advance for that)

We witness a “story inside a story inside of a story”, but what you ought to mainly know is The Grand Budapest Hotel is about Monsieur Gustave H, a very elegant and pedantic man, portrayed flawlessly by Ralph Fiennes. We never find out his last name, he’s a bit mysterious, although very daring. Here I need to praise Anderson’s excellent choice of “all stars” actors and actresses, it was absolutely enchanting to discover who else was playing in the movie. I must mention one more thing — that I was elated by Adrien Brody’s act, very amusing and definitely suiting him in a bizarre way.

Anyway, so Gustave H. He’s THE concierge of The Grand Budapest Hotel, not a random person around — he is very charming yet authoritative, and a womanizer, although his care of his looks would say otherwise. He always perfumes himself with L’air de Panache and has a taste for beauty.

He’s aided by a Lobby boy, a newly appointed young man, named Zero Moustafa. I felt that Tony Revolori as Zero brings an unusual lovely fresh touch to the movie, alongside Saoirse Ronan playing as Agatha. Although Gustave seems to have no confident, Zero gradually becomes his best friend and loyal subordinate.

The action line revolves around a murder Gustave is accused of (Madame C.V.D.u.T. — Tilda Swinton), and his trial to prove his innocence. Due to his seductive personality, he’s aided even in prison, and then, of course, by Zero, who plans the final part of the escape.

Additionally, The Society of the Crossed Keys Gustave is part of, shows just how much of respect other people have for him and his excellent services, by pulling all the strings to help him. In the meanwhile, Zero falls in love with Agatha, a pastry girl from Mendl’s, an adorable bakery shop. Everything ends up almost well, so I stop the spoilers for now.

I’m not sure if other people observed the movie like I did (the general public, I mean), but I was delighted by the small details of every freaking scene, put so graciously by Anderson.

For example, when they discuss Madam D.’s will, the room where all her relatives gather, waiting to “get the money”, is a room full of hunting trophies and wild boars, suggesting the greed for power, the animalic instinct of humanity. Which, Gustave, at some point, mentions, “There are still faint glimmers of civilization left in this barbaric slaughterhouse that was once known as humanity”, later on repeated to Jude Law (the writer who narrates the story) by grown-up Zero Moustafa.

Then when Gustave and Zero try to hide the painting “Boy with the Apple”, Zero is handed a hanger with a fur to hold — usually you wouldn’t care about it, because there is a dialogue between the two, where they don’t show the hanger anymore, so why should you care, it’s a poor hanger. But no, they specifically have a scene when Zero returns with the hanger and places it randomly in the room.

About this painting, it seemed to have meant a lot to Gustave, since a miniature picture of the painting is put on the back of the menus at GB, and it wasn’t present there before (at the beginning of the movie). As you see, everthing makes sense, all is organized (even the criminal’s murder table), nothing is left arbitrary in this wonderful movie.

Besides the scenes, colours and so on, there’re also the witty, shameless, dialogues between the characters:

“-I thought I was supposed to be a faggot. (Gustave)

-You are, but you’re bisexual.” (Dmitri)

I noted the vocabulary they use, and Gustave is the one with a very rich specter of words, although he is not afraid to use vulgarity as well, it’s part of his original and very authentic character:

“This is Van Hoytl’s exquisite portrayal of a beautiful boy on the cusp of manhood. Blond, smooth. Skin as white as that milk. Of impeccable provenance. One of the last in private hands, and unquestionably, the best. It’s a masterpiece. The rest of this shit is worthless junk.”

I’d add also the usage of Gustave’s “very good” and Zero’s “truly” as part of the wonderful construction of the repetitiveness of certain elements.

What else can I say… oh, yes, about Mendl’s pastry shop! I swear to you I would buy any sweet made at this pastry shop, and merely because the looks seem to announce a great taste. Since I brought up the sweet side, Zero and Agatha’s “from Z to A” is one of the cutest moments in the movie, I loved it!

In the end, I felt The Grand Budapest Hotel is a mirror of Gustave H.’s personality and touch, spiced with drama, comedy and romance, beautifully cinematographic and lively. I had to watch it twice and couldn’t get bored by anything; despite the fact it’s short (1 hour and a half), it’s enough to leave you with a feeling of “I’ve watched a great movie”.

I loved Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom (starring Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton and Jason Schwartzman as well), his style is very obvious in the scenes, colours, choice of music and characters acting, but The Grand Budapest Hotel is simply and fascinatingly … grand. Truly very good. From A to Z.



Anca Iațin

Art, sustainability, biking, travelling enthusiast. I write for and with pleasure. I think life’s just a perspective. You read my name as *YAH'TSEEN*.