The Grand Budapest Hotel

We’ve just seen American director Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel, which was a sumptuous viewing experience and will definitely be on my 2014 list of top films.

Mr. Peabody thought the film was ‘a love letter to Europe’, which is an excellent summation. Handily for this blog, it’s also a wonderful crime caper, triggered by the murder of a fantastically wealthy 84-year-old aristocrat (‘she was dynamite in the sack, by the way’), who’s played with panache by Tilda Swinton.

There are so many things to love about this film: it’s expertly constructed on four different time levels – the present day, 1985, 1968 and 1932 – which fit snugly inside one another like Russian dolls; it celebrates friendship, loyalty, love, kindness, courtesy, tolerance, multiculturalism and cosmopolitan ‘old’ Europe before the darkness of fascism and then communism falls; the characterisation is marvellous, especially of concierge M. Gustave (Ralph Fiennes) and bellboy Zero Moustafa (Tony Revolori/F. Murray Abraham); it shows the importance of writers as chroniclers of memories and history, and the power of literature down the generations; it’s quirky, funny, and profoundly moving; it features a wonderful ensemble cast and is a visual feast from start to finish.

Two extra tidbits. It was filmed largely in Berlin, in and around the famous Babelsberg Studios, and premiered at the Berlin Film Festival, where it won the Silver Bear Grand Jury Prize. It’s loosely inspired by the life and works of Austrian-Jewish writer Stefan Zweig (see a marvellous interview with Anderson discussing this aspect of the film).

Wes Anderson is at the top of his game and has delivered an assured, masterfully crafted work of genius. There. Now go see it if you haven’t already! The official trailer is here.



19 thoughts on “The Grand Budapest Hotel

  1. Thank you for this rave review. I’ll add this movie to my TBS (to be seen) movie list.
    Whenever I think of Budapest, I recall that when I asked my father who had traveled to Eastern Europe in about 1980, what was his favorite city and location, he replied, “Budapest — sitting in a cafe and having coffee and a pastry, while looking at the Danube River.”

    • That sounds lovely, Kathy. I bet that pastry was good. I’ve never been to Budapest and would love to go, and to stay in exactly the kind of grand hotel that’s shown in the film. Ironically, the hotel isn’t in Budapest, but in a kind of alpine setting above town/city that might be Budapest. So more of a generic ‘old’ European setting, but which works very well.

    • It is: he’s a truly original director, and manages somehow to combine very innovative filming techniques with a very authentic ‘old’ European feel.

  2. Mrs. P – So very glad you enjoyed this film. I was already keen to see it, and you’ve made me even more so. Definitely on my list!

  3. I am glad you did this piece on the film. My husband and I were already interested in seeing it, but I did not know that it was a crime story too. I look forward to seeing it even more now.

  4. Thanks for the heads up. After reading your review, I looked this up on the city movie guide as I had never heard of this film. Well surprise, surprise, this is playing in my city. I look forward to seeing it this week………………..many thanks 🙂

    • Great! If you’ve not seen any Wes Anderson films before you’re in for a treat – he’s a truly original film-maker and I do think this is one of his best. Hope you enjoy the film 🙂

  5. I loved it as well. It is indeed a love letter to Europe (something I had not thought about), but it is a story about characters and they feel so human I think it is impossible not to fall in love with them.

  6. Pingback: Film: The Grand Budapest Hotel directed by Wes Anderson | The Game's Afoot

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