THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL

A FIVE-STAR STAY FOR ADVENTURE

RETROSPECTIVE REVIEW
By Lily Meek
24th February 2024

I watched 'The Grand Budapest Hotel' the first year it came out (2014). My mum had selected it as a movie everyone was buzzing about and popped it on.

I'm assuming that buzz was in reference to the film's US$173 million dollar international profit, nine Academy Award nominations, 4 Oscar wins and worldwide critical acclaim...

The credits rolled and she admitted the film was a little lost on her. For me... I was in awe. I couldn't stop thinking how amazing it was, to have watched something so meticulously thought out... just for me, that's what it felt like. What a treat!

I still feel like that today. Watching 'The Grand Budapest Hotel' always leaves me emotional. I can't help but feel a certain level of gratitude to Wes Anderson and the crew for ensuring that all levels of this film, be it costume, SFX, dialogue, production design... have been combed through and communicated to ensure that I as a viewer have something to think about.

Now, I know that seems silly... because well, that's a director's job, isn't it? Storytellers always want to harness components of their films to elicit that feeling... duh! But, no one does it quite like Wes Anderson.

'THE GRAND BUDPAEST HOTEL' TRAILER

"I have a way of filming things and staging them and designing sets. There were times when I thought I should change my approach, but in fact this is what I like to do. It's sort of like my handwriting as a movie director. And somewhere along the way, I think I've made the decision: I'm going to write in my own handwriting." - Wes Anderson

To me, 'The Grand Budapest Hotel' is Anderson's most perfectly polished handwriting... neat and in the lines! The narrative is fun and full. An epic adventure consisting of murder, ski chases, lustful dowagers, pre-war tensions, prison breaks, poetry and love. Every mis-en-scene is cultivated to heighten reality - providing us with some form of wonder and escapism. At the same time, the narrative and sharp writing twist our feelings into complete complication. Our eyes are enjoying all visuals thrown our way; but there's a melancholy to this film that never goes away.

Anderson says, "there's something heavy that's there, that I was aware of."

And I think that heaviness means different things for different people. To me, 'The Grand Budapest Hotel' represents history and a fascination with the glorification of memory.

For those of you who haven't watched the movie, but have come to read about its 10-year anniversary... The film at its core, follows the protagonist M. Gustave (Ralph Fiennes), concierge extraordinaire. Managing the famous Grand Budapest Hotel with precision and dedication, he mentors young Zero (Tony Revolori), the Lobby Boy. The two form a bond, connected to each other through a love for their institution and mutual respect... while also navigating being framed for a murder.

To me, 'The Grand Budapest Hotel' represents history and a fascination with the glorification of memory.

Watching the film this week... I cried. I couldn't quite put my finger on why, which I think adds more to why I love the film. But it seems to me, through compositions and a beautifully executed script; Anderson reminded me that there will always be stages or seasons in life that die.

Bleak - I know.

But that's just it. Sometimes we have these amazing periods of time in our life, invigorating adventures and amazing people; that fill us with wonderment and awe. And then it ends, and we're left with places that fill in the gaps of memory and the glorification of a past tale to tell over dinner.

Ian Nathan wrote a wonderful book outlining Wes Anderson's works, and on 'The Grand Budapest', I think he said it perfectly when he wrote -

"Brimming with nostalgia for a world that never quite was, it is a film about the nature of storytelling."

Therein lies the genius of this film; that it would evoke all the fun of hearing a story from a stranger abroad, in a quirky place - while stirring the thought that perhaps our best days are already behind us.

All we can do is take M. Gustave's lead and continue the search for those "faint glimmers of civilisation," and hope that one day, my best memories will have all the colour, fluidity and pace of a Wes Anderson work of art.

Happy 10 years to this gem, and pleased to report checking in to The Grand Budapest, is still a pleasant stay.

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