Grand Budapest Hotel

Nostalgia for a place, time, and memory is the heart and soul of Wes Andersen’s gem of a movie, The Grand Budapest Hotel. Because of the quirky and whimsical style of the film, it is a long shot to win best film at this year’s Oscars. Yet, the movie is so much more than being handed an Oscar for best picture.

The movie is loosely based on the melancholy meanderings of Austrian writer, Stefan Zweig. The film follows the trials and travails of the employees and guests within the grandiose hotel. The hotel’s beloved and comical concierge, M. Gustave,  runs the hotel with impeccable attention to detail. At his side, is his loyal lobby boy, Zero.

The film  is set in 1930’s prewar Europe. The Grand Budapest Hotel is set high above the clouds on a majestic mountain top. There is only a hint that the war and Nazism is encroaching around them; yet, the Grand Budapest Hotel seems to be the one spot in Europe to remain untouched with its old-fashioned elegance, peace, and civility.

Monsieur Gustave, proprietor of the hotel, says to his dear, young protege, Zero, with a hint of foreshadowing, “You see, there are still faint glimmers of civilization left in this barbaric slaughterhouse that was once known as humanity.”  The movie seemingly humorous and filled with many outrageous and mad cap adventures has, at its core, undertones of extreme melancholy as the ugliness of war and inhumanity subtly seeps into the film.

The ability to pretend to keep up appearances, to keep going forward and remaining hopeful, even when the world is collapsing around you is at the heart of this movie. The movie concludes with the now elderly Zero stating: “To be frank, I think his world had vanished long before he even entered it. But I must say, M. Gustave maintained the illusion with grace,”

For most American movie-goers, the film will seem strange indeed. The dead-pan dialogue, fantastical plot, and whimsical settings may be off putting for those who have never seen a previous Wes Anderson film, such as The Royal Tenenbaums (02), The Darjeeling Limited (07), or Moonrise Kingdom (12). However, if you get the chance, please see this film. You will not be disappointed.

 

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