Wes Anderson The Grand Budapest Hotel

Wes Anderson The Grand Budapest Hotel

The Grand Budapest Hotel

Cast: Ralph Fiennes, Tony Revolori, F. Murray Abraham, Mathieu Amalric, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Harvey Keitel, Jude Law, Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Saoirse Ronan, Jason Schwartzman, Lèa Seydoux, Tilda Swinton, Tom Wilkinson, Owen Wilson
Director: Wes Anderson
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Rated: M
Running Time: 100 minutes

Synopsis: The Grand Budapest Hotel recounts the adventures of Gustave H, a legendary concierge at a famous European hotel between the wars, and Zero Moustafa, the lobby boy who becomes his most trusted friend.

The story involves the theft and recovery of a priceless Renaissance painting and the battle for an enormous family fortune - all against the back-drop of a suddenly and dramatically changing Continent.

The Grand Budapest Hotel
Release Date: April 10th, 2014
Website: Trailer

 

 

About The Production

 

The Grant Budapest Hotel: a caper in constant motion, kinetic and comic; a timeless tale of friendship, honor, and promises fulfilled. Director Wes Anderson says his eighth feature film comes from a mix of inspirations including the pre-code comedies of the 1930's and the stories and memoirs of Viennese writer Stefan Zweig.

 

'I had an idea with my friend Hugo," recalls Wes Anderson of the script's beginnings. 'He and I had talked for some years about a character inspired by a friend of ours, an exceptionally, supremely charming person with a unique and wonderful way with words and a very special view of life. Someone unlike anyone else we know in the world. Then, separately, I had this thought to make a kind of a European movie – inspired especially by Stefan Zweig, a writer who I've come to really love in the last several years. There were some other things that I was reading that might not seem connected to this movie, like Hannah Arendt's -Eichmann in Jerusalem,' which had very little directly to do with this, but it contains a fascinating analysis of how each country in Europe responded to the Nazis, and how the whole place came unglued; as well as -Suite Française' by Irène Némirovsky. Those were some of the things I started with, and I mixed them with the idea that Hugo and I had about this friend of ours. And that's what this movie is, sort of, in a way."

Anderson set his tale in a fictional spa town in the imaginary country of alpine Zubrowka, for which he created not only a complete visual aesthetic but also a cohesive 20th Century history mirroring Eastern Europe, with a fascist takeover in the thirties and a Communist period after that – but also a more distant past in the vein of the belle epoque.

 

'Every time Wes Anderson makes a film, it's a whole world, and there's a whole universe to be created along with it," says producer Jeremy Dawson, who has worked with Wes Anderson on Moonrise Kingdom, Fantastic Mr. Fox and The Darjeeling Limited.  'Here, he has created an entirely fictional part of Eastern Europe known as The Republic of Zubrowka, and in Zubrowka we find one of those great spa towns that cropped up all over before the turn of the century.  The story really came from his interest in that time period, that history, that world; and also a certain type of character who is our Monsieur Gustave, the concierge at this grand hotel.  So his idea of both the character and this entire world merged together, and Wes turned out this great script.  Then the script, the acting and direction all combined to become something different even than it was on the page." 

 

The Citizens Of Zubrowka

M. Gustave H.

 

Wes Anderson wrote the part of Monsieur Gustave H, the fastidious concierge at the heart of the film, with one actor in mind:  Ralph Fiennes, a two-time Oscar® nominee for Schindler's List and The English Patient.   'The idea that Ralph Finnes was going to play this character enriched it completely," says Jeremy Dawson.  'He just disappears into that persona until you simply say, -that's Monsieur Gustave.'" 

 

Ralph Fiennes immersed himself fully into the character's many contradictions.  'Monsieur Gustave is insecure, vain and needy, as it says in the script, but he's also a very fastidious man who has a strong sense of principle rooted in this idea of how you look after people," the actor observes. 

 

He especially enjoyed Gustave's paternal relationship with young Zero, whom he selects as a potential protégé in the never-ending battle against the coarseness of the world.  'To Gustave, Zero is an innocent, inexperienced in the ways of the world and in need of instruction. But they ultimately become equal brothers-in-arms," notes Ralph Fiennes. 

 

Ralph Fiennes was inspired by his first collaboration with Wes Anderson, who, he notes, has a way of seeing the world that is one-of-a-kind.  'With The Grant Budapest Hotel, Wes has created a true caper comedy with disguises and chases and escapes, yet there's always that bittersweet undertone that is so distinctive," he says.  'His films always have this idiosyncratic lightness of touch inside which lie strong themes and emotions.  It's an unusual blend that no one else can repeat because it comes from inside Wes, from his personal sense of humor and perception of the world." 

 

He continues:  'Wes is exacting with his actors in a very positive way.  He's always refining a moment until it has just the right feel, the right lightness.  Speed of delivery is something he really values because this kind of material needs that kind of liveliness.  Ultimately, he created his own made-up time and world where people are braver, more principled and have more fun." 

 

Underneath all of Gustave's superficial fastidiousness is a kind of basic emotional core, a devotedness, sentimentality and affection that provide much of the story's emotional center.  Observes co-star Edward Norton, whose character is in pursuit of Gustave:  'Gustave is up there with the greatest characters Wes has created and nobody could have played it more perfectly than Ralph Fiennes.  Gustave is contradictory – he has this incredibly haughty self-righteous view of proper values and at the same time he is ferociously loyal. He's like a glimpse into an old world right before it disappears." 

 

Zero Moustafa

 

At the beginning of The Grant Budapest Hotel, the Young Writer finds himself in conversation with the enigmatic Mr. Moustafa, the hotel's owner, who sets about relating the story of how he rose from the ranks of junior lobby boy to become the proprietor of the Grand Budapest.

 

Playing Zero Moustafa in his youth, during the period when he first arrives at the hotel, is newcomer Tony Revolori.  Since Zero was intended to hail from a fictional Middle-Eastern country, Wes Anderson originally started seeking out actors in Lebanon and Israel, as well as North Africa, and various European immigrant communities – but eventually he found Revolori, who has a Guatemalan background, during auditions in Los Angeles. As soon as he met him, Wes Anderson recognised the same open earnestness that characterises Zero.  And when he introduced Revolori to Fiennes, the comedic chemistry was immediately clear.   

 

Ralph Fiennes was impressed by Revolori's preparation, but also by his strong natural instincts.  'Tony Revolori as Zero brings this wonderful quality of intelligent innocence.  He's innocent but he's also very smart," says Ralph Fiennes. 

 

For Tony Revolori, working with Wes Anderson was 'an experience unto itself, unlike any other."  He continues: 'I felt like a part of his family, and immediately everyone – actors, crew – helped bring me in and started teaching me and giving me advice, which was a fantastic thing."

 

This was especially true of Ralph Fiennes. 'He really helped guide me.  He's become an older brother in a way," Tony Revolori muses. 

 

Their rapport was obvious to everyone on the set.  Observes Willem Dafoe:  'Ralph Fiennes has his British reserve, his dry humor and his beautiful sense of language, and Tony Revolori is just so fresh and easy.  The minute I saw them together, I thought it was a fantastic combination." 

 

Playing Zero as an older man is F. Murray Abraham, who, as he details the history of his character's rise to his current stature, comes to serve as the story's main narrator. F. Murray Abraham was thrilled to take on the role of raconteur. 'One of the things that I do well is tell stories," he notes. 'I have a granddaughter, I'm very close to her, and telling her stories and listening to her tell me stories is one of the joys of my life. I also believe that's a tradition upon which films are based – storytelling – although those great tales that really say something seem to have been lost somewhere.  Wes Anderson insists on saying something, and in this film, which I believe to be his best, he tells a story that will have you smiling the whole way through." 

 

Especially interesting to F. Murray Abraham was the notion that the adult Zero Moustafa has weathered both war and personal tragedy, and yet manages to maintain a lightness of spirit.  'Zero has led a very full life and lost everyone who was dear to him, but he's not cynical. To me that's a very important facet of Zero, and it happens that I share that facet. I believe in the future of humanity and I believe that people are basically really good at heart. I do." 

 

F. Murray Abraham enjoyed working in tandem with Jude Law, who plays the Young Writer.  'Jude Law is one of my favorite actors.  We have met many times earlier in our lives but I've never worked with him – and we made a very strong connection on this film," he says.

 

As for Wes Anderson, with whom he's working for the first time, F. Murray Abraham says:  'Everybody feels the same way about Wes that I do – that he's amazing. Do you know the book -The Little Prince' by Saint-Exupéry? Wes Anderson is the little prince grown up."

 

The Desgoffes und Taxis

 

The main action of the story kicks off with the sudden and mysterious death of 84-year-old dowager countess Madame Céline Villeneuve Desgoffe und Taxis, a.k.a. Madame D.

 

In the role of Madame D. is Tilda Swinton, who won an Oscar® for her work in Minchael Clayton. For this part, Tilda Swinton had to spend almost five hours each morning in hair and makeup in preparation to play the 84-year-old widow. Wes Anderson notes, 'With Tilda Swinton, we had this chance to age her, and I think she really enjoyed doing that, and helped make it something special. I feel like she really latched on to how to play this person at that age." 

 

Tilda Swinton found the world of The Grant Budapest Hotel irresistible.  'I think we all love the idea of living in the grandest hotel in the world and being waited on by someone like Monsieur Gustave, or even being someone like Gustave," she says.  'You have a fictional country, which is always a good start, and then it's a helter-skelter murder mystery with a mish-mash of glorious details unlike anything you could ever have imagined." 

 

Madame D.'s death sets in motion a scramble to lay claim to her vast fortune. Leading the charge is her son, Dmitri, the film's ruthless and darkly comic main villain, played by Adrien Brody, who previously starred in The Darjeeling Limited. 'He's the bad seed, he's the one who causes the trouble – and he was really wonderful in this role of Dmitri," says Wes Anderson.

 

Adrien Brody says of the character:  'Dmitri is powerful and greedy, a man used to getting what he wants. M. Gustave is a threat to this. It is revealed that he was the much younger lover of his mother, who she ultimately bequeathed her fortune to, so wouldn't you have it in for him?  Everything about Dmitri is dark: his clothes, hair, thoughts and attitude.  The beauty of comedy is that you can heighten all of these qualities to the point where they become amusing. The objective was to find a balance between being legitimately ominous and also hilarious – Dmitri had to be both." 

 

Dmitri also has an accessory: a henchman named Jopling, a thug in a leather coat, brass-knuckles and high-heeled boots, who is portrayed by Willem Dafoe.  Willem Dafoe says that despite his previous work with Wes Anderson, the script for The Grant Budapest Hotel was surprising. 'I thought it was really interesting, almost a throwback to Lubitsch and Wilder comedies, with a caper quality and all these characters coming in and out," he says.  'Wes Anderson captures a spirit that is so appealing." 

 

It didn't surprise Willem Dafoe that the script attracted such a strong and award-winning cast.  'It's unusual in today's cinema for a director to have the heavy personal stamp Wes does so a lot of people want to work with him," he explains. 'It makes for an extremely creative atmosphere."

 

Playing Deputy Vilmos Kovacs, the attorney representing Madame D's estate, is Jeff Goldblum, who previously worked with Wes Anderson on The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou. Jeff Goldblum highlights some of the cultural and political elements at work in the film: 'Monsieur Gustave is a rare and spectacular light of hope and inspiration – courteous, generous and refined – in this world in which fascists are coming to power," he says.  Indeed, Dmitri and his cohort are headed down a path toward fascism, and this is one of the elements that flesh out the antagonism between him and Monsieur Gustave.  'This is a world where one needs to start taking sides, so when Madame D is killed, and dissension breaks out over the will and the atmosphere is thick with greed, my character Kovacs must get closer to taking a stand." 

 

Jeff Goldblum was also taken with certain details of the look of his character, including a beard based on Sigmund Freud's. 'Wes is so specific in his visual ideas, and costume designer Milena Canonero creates costumes that give you insight into your character," he says. 

 

It was a thrill for Jeff Goldblum to work with Wes Anderson again.  'He is a uniquely artistic, focused and witty person not unlike Monsieur Gustave," the actor comments.  'He's always full of fun and enchantment.  And he attracts spectacular people in every capacity who are here for the love of it."

 

Rounding out the Desgoffe und Taxis household is Madame D's trusted butler, Serge X, played by another newcomer to Wes Anderson's films: the award-winning French actor Mathieu Amalric, best known in the U.S. for his lead role in Julian Schnabel's The Diving Bell And The Butterfly.

 

Agatha

 

The best and most famous bakery in Zubrowka is Mendl's – and it is there, amidst the rolling-pins and puff-pastry, that Zero meets Agatha, a striking young apprentice with a birthmark on her face, who makes the town's favorite pastry of all, the 'Courtesan au chocolat."  To play Agatha, Anderson cast Irish actress Saoirse Ronan, who received an Academy Award® nomination at age 13 for her supporting role in Joe Wright's adaptation of Atonement.    

 

Saoirse Ronan jumped in without reservation.  The actress recalls her first day on the set, her first time working with Wes Anderson: 'I came in, and the whole place was just kind of buzzing," she remembers.  'There were loads of people running around; and you could see everyone was at the top of their game because Wes Anderson is so specific about what he wants when it comes to the look and the style. You could see that everyone was really tuned into his way of working."

 

Agatha, in spite of her better judgment, eventually winds up at the center of Zero and Gustave's criminal exploits.  Saoirse Ronan explains: 'She brings emotion to the story because Zero is so motivated by his love for her in everything he and Gustave are doing.  I think Agatha doesn't at first realise what she's gotten herself into but she follows them all the way through because she loves them and believes in them." 

 

Police and Thieves

 

As things begin to go awry for Gustave and Zero, they find themselves pursued by the Captain of the Lutz Military Police: Albert Henckels, played by Edward Norton, who worked with Wes Anderson previously on Moonrise Kingdom.  'Henckels is after Gustave as a fugitive," Edward Norton explains.  'But, at the same time, he knows in his gut there's something not quite right, and he actually likes this guy, so I'd call him a reluctant pursuer.  He's the law, but he smells something else is afoot."   

 

Edward Norton also points to some of the unique behind-the-scenes camaraderie on the production.  'I think for a lot of actors in my generation, Wes Anderson has been a kind of polestar of personal creative vision.  He does something that is uniquely heartfelt, yet hilarious.  Wes Anderson's films are a lot like this story in that they create an alternative kind of family, which is very romantic for actors.  The cast is a blend of some of Wes Anderson's old gang with a new gang and there was great camaraderie.  It was almost like he cultivated among the cast and the crew the feeling of The Society of the Crossed Keys – the concierges of all the great hotels of the world – who have this complete sense of unity when called upon."

 

When the law does catch up with Gustave, he finds himself in the least imaginable of places for a man of his sensibilities: Check-point 19 Criminal Internment Camp, a dank, medieval-era prison, surrounded by barbed wire and a moat full of crocodiles.  He soon befriends four fellow inmates and winds up at the center of an elaborate escape plot they've cooked up.  The brains of the plot is Ludwig, an especially rough, tattooed convict with a bald head, played by Harvey Keitel, who also appeared in Moonrise Kingdom, and for whom Wes Anderson wrote the part.   

 

The Society of the Crossed Keys

 

Back out of prison and on the lam, Gustave realises he has only one place left to turn: The Society of the Crossed Keys, an extensive clandestine fraternal order of concierges who work at the best hotels around the world. In one of the film's most well-choreographed sequences, Bill Murray, Bob Balaban, Fisher Stevens, Waris Ahluwalia and Wally Wolodarsky take on the roles of the concierges who come to Gustave's aid. 

 

Bill Murray, who has appeared in all of Wes Anderson's films except his first, has watched the director expand his vision.  'I feel like we've grown up together," says Bill Murray.  'He still is a young kid to me but he's gotten more and more experienced, he writes and shoots more and more ambitiously, and it's more and more fun."   

 

For his part, Bob Balaban loved the film's nostalgia for a sort of golden age of hospitality and travel.  'I think one of the great charms of this film is that it revisits a romantic and sumptuous age," he says.  'It was a time when a hotel was a place you could shed your life, an exciting new world of running into new people and intrigue and being deeply taken care of.  And when one of our own is in need, we concierges participate in an epic game of telephone tag, uniting in a kind of phalanx of concierge power." 

 

The onset of war was a blow to this romantic age, and as the war takes hold in Zubrowka, the High-Command forces set up their base at the Grand Budapest.  Monsieur Chuck, played by long-time Wes Anderson collaborator Owen Wilson, takes over as military concierge during this period.

 

And when we re-visit the hotel in its later days, as it's hastening toward eventual demolition, we find Monsieur Jean at the concierge desk.  For this role, Anderson went to another long-time colleague, Jason Schwartzman. 'I am a collaborator of Wes's and I'm a friend of Wes Anderson's and I'm a fan of Wes Anderson's," says Jason Schwartzman, 'and every time I read one of his scripts the fan in me is the part that responds first.  With The Grant Budapest Hotel what was exciting is that it was such an intricate story on so many levels that jumps through different time periods and knowing Wes's sensibility, the fun was in seeing how it would all look."

 

OPENING THE GRAND HOTEL

 

The extensive planning of the film began with finding just the right location for the Grand Budapest.  Since the hotel goes through several shifts, from its heyday as a celebrated spa resort in the early-30s, to falling under fascist control, to an almost uninhabited Communist-era construction in its decline, Anderson and his team hunted for a location rich with both the character of Europe and also a good deal of visual flexibility. 

 

The search started with Wes Anderson perusing the archives of The Library of Congress, which holds a large collection of photocrom images from the era of classic European travel.  But after scouting some of the resorts in the photos, and discovering most to be torn down or too extensively renovated, Wes Anderson chose to shoot in no hotel at all.  Instead, he discovered an unexpected kind of back lot: a vast, turn-of-the-century department store smack at the intersection of Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic, in the UNESCO World Heritage town of Görlitz.

 

It turned out Görlitz had far more to offer than just the department store, including architectural influences from the Gothic and Baroque to the almost-modern curves of Art Nouveau.  'Görlitz has so much character in all its buildings that we realised we could pretty much make the entire movie there," Dawson explains.

Many of the film's key props were made by local artists and artisans in Görlitz, including the Courtesans au chocolat, made by local baker Anemone Müller-Grossman, Monsieur Gustave's signature pinky ring, and the porcelain pendant that Agatha wears.  Propmaster Robin Miller notes: 'It's a beautiful little town, but it's basically a historical town.  They don't have all the things we're used to having in a city, all the support systems.  But one day, I happened to be walking by this little porcelain shop, and I saw there were these beautiful hand-painted porcelains in the window.  I walked in, and I saw they did this wonderful delft blue on these little pieces, and I thought -Here it is, we've found it.'"  As it turned out, the artist, Heidemarie Klinger, had been trained in nearby Meissen, a town world-famous for its porcelain manufacturing.     

 

Many locals even turned up in the film themselves.  As Jeremy Dawson explains: 'Another thing that was nice about working in a small town is that we got to know many of the people and started putting them in the film.  So the guy who was the waiter at the restaurant one night would be an extra in a scene the next day."

Not only did Wes Anderson and his team build their sets inside the empty department store, but they also set up their offices and workshops there, forging an entirely self-contained world that kept cast and crew inside the universe of Zubrowka. 

 

The design of the film emerged from the collaboration between Anderson and his production designer, Adam Stockhausen.  Adam Stockhausen, who previously worked on The Darjeeling Limited and Moonrise Kingdom, and recently designed Steve McQueen's 12 Years A Slave, knew this film would be a creative experience unlike any other.  'We worked across these tiny, beautiful, little towns, and being there you become immersed completely in that world," he says.  'It became a very special journey."

 

To design the hotel's interior, Adam Stockhausen started thinking about it in connection with the character of Gustave.  'In trying to figure out the physical space of the hotel, I felt it had everything to do with Ralph Fienne's character," Adam Stockhausen explains.  'The space reflects him through its color palette and style.  We wanted the entire structure of the hotel to feel like an integrated whole with the storytelling.  It was a big challenge, and a very large and complicated set." 

 

Adam Stockhausen outlines some of the creative steps that went into crafting the lobby:  'First, there were endless amounts of research into what hotels looked like in the time period, and then the details that really spoke to us began to bubble up to the surface, and we'd say, -That stairway's incredible, that elevator door's incredible' or -that concierge desk is incredible.' And as those pieces started to gel into a shape, pretty soon we could say, -OK, this is starting to feel like our hotel.'  Then we worked on the right relationships of doors and hallways and spaces to get the action to move properly.  Wes likes to shoot in complex camera moves, so the physical space really had to line up.  We ended up building the 1960s version of the hotel first, and then we shot backwards, peeling away layers to expose the earlier period hotel within." 

 

Almost all the other locations were found in Görlitz and the immediately surrounding areas – from the Check-point 19 prison location in nearby Zwickau, to the Mendl's shop and Kunstmuseum in Dresden, only an hour away – with one big exception.  Anderson and Stockhausen ultimately decided to create the hotel exterior as a beautifully elaborate miniature in the workshops at Babelsberg.  It was also there that they built and filmed much of the cable-car and ski-chase sequences, building miniature models in the workshop and then moving them outdoors to be shot under natural light – often pushing a camera on wheels through real miniature trees – allowing a greater feeling of naturalism than you'd normally achieve with a model.  For the widest shots in the ski chase, the characters themselves were created using stop-motion animation.  And to help with this process, Wes Anderson enlisted several of his old colleagues from Fantastic Mr. Fox.

 

As Adam Stockhausen notes, 'very often a scene that you would assume is all pieces of the same location actually gets broken apart into one main location, a bit of stop-motion animation, a matte-painting, a piece of a miniature, and some other location. And so it's an incredible challenge to try to figure out how all that stuff goes together – and it's way beyond just me. It's this whole team of people trying to make sense of it and make it all work and fit together.  It's a heck of a challenge and an awful lot of fun."

 

Another long-time Wes Anderson collaborator on the film is cinematographer Robert Yeoman, who has shot all of Wes Anderson's live-action features. Robert Yeoman was immediately excited by the story's shifting time periods and the opportunities that provided.  'For the 60s version of the lobby, we floated this giant fluorescent ceiling," he explains.  'It was much more monotone than the 30s version, which had warmer colors and a lot of practical lights and a beautiful skylight overhead.  That had a much more open feeling."  Another idea that Wes Anderson and Robert Yeoman came up with was to shoot the different time periods in different aspect ratios, using anamorphic widescreen for the 1960s, then switching to a more square 1.37:1 format for the 1930s, typical of that time period, and moving to 1.85:1 for the scenes closest to the present-day.  About working in the 1.37 format, which is used for much of the film, Robert Yeoman says: 'It's not as wide, but you have more up-and-down, you see ceilings a lot more, and it's a little bit looser.  It's very different from what we've done before, and I think both Wes and I really had a lot of fun dealing with this format."

 

Designing the costumes for the film was legendary three-time Academy Award® winning costume designer Milena Canonero, who was eager to reunite with Wes Anderson, having worked with him previously on The Darjeeling Limited and The Life Aquatic. Milena Canonero was particularly excited by the way the film invokes a historical setting but allows it to be played with.  She explains: 'What I like about the movie is one can really be quite elastic and free in the way one interprets the time and the period.  It's a memory. It's a story told by somebody, to somebody else, who then is going to write about it.  So it's not just a straightforward flashback story at all.  And I think that's quite interesting creatively."  One influence she found was Austrian symbolist painter Gustav Klimt, whose paintings partly inspired the look for Madame D. 

 

Milena Canonero is often noted for the thoroughness of her approach and her incredible attention to detail.  As Wes Anderson explains, 'She isn't just working with me to design the costumes, and working with her crew to execute the costumes, she is also doing something else which is sort of making characters."  This comprehensive approach extends all the way to the background actors.  As Milena Canonero explains: 'For me, it's like a painting.  You look at everything, you don't just focus on the principals.  So to be able to do even the minor background extras – that makes sense and is very important.  I couldn't do it otherwise."

 

Frances Hannon, who has worked with Wes Anderson as far back as Rushmore, designed the hair, makeup and prosthetics for the film.  She describes some of the smaller details that went into creating a sense of character continuity between time periods: 'For Zero, who's played in the 30s by our young boy and in the 60s by F. Murray Abraham, we kept similarities between those two with their hair.  Jude Law has the younger moustache shape of Tom Wilkinson.  It was just very simple like that, and I think it worked really well.  Small details, but the -less is more' works well on this film."  On the other end of the spectrum was the work she did on Tilda Swinton to transform her into an 84-year-old.  'It's a look she's never had before," Hannon notes.  'She was full of prosthetics: arms, chest, neck, back; a wig that went on for miles, contact lenses for cataracts, the teeth of an old lady, ear lobes.  There was nothing left out."

 

Six-time Academy Award® nominee Alexandre Desplat developed one of his most unusual scores – one played entirely without traditional orchestral instruments.  Instead, he brought in a host of Central European instruments, including balalaikas and the cimbalom, a type of hammered dulcimer common to Eastern European gypsy music.  He flew in a 50-member balalaika-orchestra from Moscow for the final recording. 

 

'We've tried to capture the sounds that are in our subconscious from Middle Europe, from the Moldavian cimbalom to Alpine horns, as well as yodeling, monk songs and the balalaika," he explains.  'It's a mix that can be soulful, haunting and fun – and cover a range of emotions, from light to dark.  We used the same musical vocabulary you would with a classical orchestra but the sound is very different."

 

Alexandre Desplat says that Wes Anderson fosters an atmosphere of experimentation.  'We do things together that neither I as a professional composer nor he has ever done before," he muses. 'I try to find the sound, the melodies, the rhythms that match what is onscreen but are based on things we don't see: the pastor the future of the character or their inner emotions.  When I sit down with Wes, we explore all of that."

 

When production wrapped, Wes Anderson dove into the cutting process with editor Barney Pilling.  Barney Pilling, whose films include Quartet and An Education, had not worked with Wes Anderson previously but was intrigued by the task.  'The Grant Budapest Hotel is a wonderful prism of storytelling," he comments.  'It spans three different eras and is mostly set in a wondrous pre-war era that lends a dramatic context to everything.  To me, it's also about the filmmaker's memories of classic movies of that time.  And I was really struck by the scale of it, which is more epic and ambitious than Wes's previous movies, which made it doubly exciting." 

 

As he watched the footage, one thing struck Barney Pilling:  'It's amazing how beautifully planned it all is," he says.  'Very little is left to chance in terms of the shots, and Wes Anderson also creates an animatic of the entire film, so he comes to the editing room with incredible preparation. Since this story was born in Wes Anderson's head, these guidelines for how to deliver his vision were very helpful, and it was a joy to edit." 

 

Barney Pilling sees the film as both continuing Wes Anderson's cinematic language and also expanding it.  'You see a lot of Wes Anderson's distinctive signatures:  the whip pans, the complex dolly shots, the stunning grip work, but the composition is also different, particularly because of the aspect ratio he and Bob Yeoman were working in.  There are also some huge action sequences, so the way the film was shot complements that." 

 

Barney Pilling especially enjoyed seeing Wes Anderson stand back and take in the whole.  'Wes Anderson has a very pointillist approach to filmmaking, where he works very closely with these little dots of the story, and in the editing process he gets a chance to step back and see the whole picture," he explains. 

 

Throughout it all, Barney Pilling was especially moved by Ralph Fiennes's performance.  'Ralph Fiennes's mastery of the language and his physical ability to work with the movement of the camera is incredible," he says.  'The camera is doing a lot of big moves, all choreographed to happen on certain words and certain inflections, and Ralph Fiennes had the ability to marry his performance to the technical timing demanded by that.  He also gives the story a kind of grounding where at times it can be taken very seriously, and it can be very emotional, but is also very funny.  And then he and Tony Revolori make such a charming, adorable pairing – and that becomes the beating heart of the movie."

 

Wes Anderson puts his own words to the connection between the two central figures: 'I think when Gustave meets Zero, he recognises probably someone somewhat like himself," Wes Anderson says, 'somebody who is paying a bit more attention than other people and isn't just going to do his job well, he's actually interested in the whole thing and that there is this potential there.  He sees a spark in him." 

 

The Grand Budapest Hotel
Release Date: April 10th, 2014




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