The Grand Budapest Hotel is, in essence, a film about a flamboyant hotel concierge, Monsieur Gustav and his adventures with the lobby boy and his eventual protégé, Zero Mustafa. Directed by Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel, is set between World War One and World War Two against the backdrop of Zubrowka in Europe and stars Ralph Fiennes, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe and Tony Revolori. Wes addresses themes of loyalty, morality and revenge against a visually breathtaking set, each room looks hand painted, perfectly representing the scene about to unfold within it.
The crux of the film begins to unfold when one of Gustav’s oldest and most loyal guests, Madame D, passes away, leaving him with an invaluable painting, ‘Boy With Apple’. Her family, led by her rapacious son, Dmitri’s dissatisfaction with his mother’s decision results in mayhem; Gustav is accused of murder and denied his inheritance, he and Zero steal ‘Boy With Apple’ and return to the Grand Budapest Hotel where Gustav was arrested as a suspect for Madame D.’s murder.
Gustavs character is written brilliantly, initially presenting himself as an over-cologned, brutally honest hustler, it soon becomes clear that Gustav is meant to represent what is missing from most communities; loyalty and genuine intended honesty. With unceasing, hilariously truthful lines, “Darling you mustn’t blame him, he hasn’t a single thread of moral fiber”, M. Gustav demonstrates the ‘spoonful of sugar’ principle while he delivers his dose of moral medicine.
While imprisoned he asserts himself quickly, getting into fights early to prove his virility and making an unlikely group of equally loyal friends who both kill and are killed in arranging Gustav’s escape. Zero also helps. His love interest, Agata, a baker, hides small tools in the shape of delicately created baked goods sent as gifts to Gustav.
Parallel to this series of events, Dimitri’s right hand man Jopling, a line-less character, played immaculately by Willem Dafoe is on a mission to stop anyone from uncovering the truth regarding Madam D’s murder. He leaves no live bodies in his path, strangling Serge, the only man who can help Gustav uncover the true cause of her death, beheads Serges sister and and chops Kovacs, Dimitris lawyers, fingers off and later murders him after throwing his cat out a window to its inevitable death. Another unlikely symbol for loyalty, Jopling kills himself in an attempt to preserve the information regarding Madame D.’s murder for the sake of Dimitri and his family.
The theme of loyalty continues in the final chaotic scenes of the film whereby Agata escapes from Dimitri and eventually falls off the edge of a balcony in attempt to save ‘Boy With Apple’. Her disposition to Zero surmounts her previous hesitations “I don’t trade in stolen property.”
The film also touches on the beginning of World War Two, described as “The Start of the Lutz Blitz”, we see the Hotel taken over by a tyrannical army known by its ZZ paraphernalia.
The entire film is narrated on the basis that a writer visits the Grand Budapest Hotel in 1968 and finds it empty except for a blasé concierge and an older, reclusive Zero Mustafa who proceeds to tell the story of Mousier Gustav, Agata and the Grand Budapest Hotel to the writer. It is easy for viewers to develop a fixation on the beauty of the Hotels story and the genuinity of the characters. Wes pulls audiences out of it in a timely manner cutting from a high intensity scenes in brightly coloured rooms to the stark contrast of the desolate and disheveled Grand Budapest, complete with tacky green carpet and wooden wall treatment, not-so-subtle reminders of the decade the scene is set in. The distinction between the two settings symbolizes the importance of the hotel at the time to Zero. He did not have much when he first came to work the Grand Budapest hotel, ‘Family? Zero,’ as Gustav delicately put it. The Hotel was soon where Zero developed a sense of belonging; he had Gustav, a mentor and father figure and Agata, his soul mate.
Wes, notoriously known for his unique directing and writing style, gives several subtle nudges to the work of the amazing artists and film preceding his. For example: the scene where Agata is running from Dimitri in the Hotel, the wallpaper is identical to the wallpaper seen in the derelict Overlook Hotel from Stanley Kubriks, The Shining. Moreover, Harvey Keitel plays Wolf, a prison inmate who helps Gustav escape. This is an ode to Quentin Tarrentino’s Pulp Fiction in which the character called Wolf also helps the protagonists escape from the repercussions of a committed crime. The Grand Budapest Hotel is an answer to society’s recent need for a satisfying film. It won seven out of ten nominations, including the Silver Berlin Bear and the World Soundtrack award for Film Composer and Best original Film Score of the year. Entrancing and exquisitely made, Wes’s latest film was written to deliver brutal honesty in a beautiful way.
The Grand Budapest Hotel – Syng Rafeas