The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014) Poster


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Unlike most films, every time a newspaper article appears it has a detailed and complete depiction of the events in the headline, all written by Wes Anderson himself.
According to Wes Anderson, the whole cast stayed in the same hotel--Hotel Börse in Görlitz--during the film's principal photography. He insisted all make-up and costume fittings happen in the hotel lobby to speed up filming. The owner of Hotel Börse appears in the film as an extra working on the front desk of the Grand Budapest Hotel, and after filming finished for the day the crew would often return to find him at the front desk of their own hotel.
Tilda Swinton spent five hours in the makeup chair to play 84-year-old dowager Madame D. "We're not usually working with a vast, Bruckheimer-type budget on my films, so often we're trying a work-around," said Wes Anderson. "But for the old-age makeup I just said, 'Let's get the most expensive people we can'."
In an interview, Saoirse Ronan admitted that making the hotel's signature confection, the Courtisane au Chocolat, wasn't easy. "Forget the action scenes in Hanna (2011)," she said, "these little pastries were the hardest thing I've had to do in a movie."
The name of the fictional Republic of Zubrowka comes from the Polish vodka Zubrówka. It's the brand of rye vodka, seasoned with bison grass and renowned in Europe.
The erotic painting hung in place of "Boy with Apple" mimics the style of the early 20th-century Austrian painter Egon Schiele. It was created by illustrator Rich Pellegrino, a regular contributor to San Francisco's annual "Bad Dads" exhibit of artwork inspired by the movies of Wes Anderson. The painting's official title is "Two Lesbians Masturbating."
In an interview with NPR, Wes Anderson said about finding filming locations, "We found this department store in this town called Görlitz, which is in Saxony. Half of Görlitz is in Germany, the other half is in Poland. It's on the border, and it's about 20 minutes from [the] Czech Republic. So, in a way, it's really right where our story would be, if there was such a place as the one in our story. And this department store that we found, we made into our hotel, the big entrance hall of our hotel, and then we found everything else for the movie within a certain kind of radius of that department store."
The cast includes four Oscar winners--Adrien Brody, Tilda Swinton, Fisher Stevens and F. Murray Abraham--and 12 actors who were nominated for an Oscar (not necessarily in the acting category): Bill Murray, Jude Law, Jeff Goldblum, Edward Norton, Owen Wilson, Harvey Keitel, Bob Balaban, Tom Wilkinson, Willem Dafoe, Saoirse Ronan and Ralph Fiennes. Lucas Hedges was nominated after the release of the movie.
According to "Variety", Fox Searchlight Pictures sent its specification for the film's "proper projection" to theaters before its release. Although this film was shot in three different aspect ratios (1.37, 1.85 and 2.35:1) to inform viewers where they are in the time line, which alternates between 1985, 1968 and the 1930s, instructions state in large, bold red font that the film is meant to be projected in 1.85:1 aspect ratio (the standard). Aside from the projector setting, the directions include information on framing the picture, image brightness, audio configuration and fader setting.
As of January 2015, this is the highest-grossing film of Wes Anderson's career, grossing 174.8 million dollars worldwide. It was also the highest-grossing independent film of 2014 and the highest-grossing limited-release film of 2014. In its first week it grossed over 811,000 dollars in just four theatrical screenings, averaging 202,000 dollars per screen.
Wes Anderson's seventh collaboration with Bill Murray.
The film takes place in 1932, 1968, 1985 and 2014.
The soundtrack features a rare instrument--the balalaika, a triangular-shaped Russian folk instrument that was carefully chosen by Wes Anderson. Its triangular body and three strings come in various sizes, much like the violin, from prima to contrabass. Several dozen players from France and Russia gathered in Paris to record the soundtrack in Anderson's presence. The instrument is heard throughout the movie but is most prominent in the second part of the official trailer (down the ski slopes) with the balalaika's most popular theme, "The Moon Shines" (svetit mesyats).
The appearance and style of F. Murray Abraham's Mr. Moustafa is based on prolific American writer and professor Harold Jaffe. Wes Anderson is an admirer of his work.
Despite the movie's title, Wes Anderson confessed in an NPR interview that Prague was his main source of inspiration: "Prague is the one that I feel sort of inspired me the most for this city, for the big city in our story," he said. "Prague is such a spectacular place and one of those places that so much of the history is right in front of you."
Bill Murray's character's name can be read in Hungarian as "Mi van?" which means: "What's going on?".
Ludwig's tattoos are a direct copy of the character of Pere Jules in the 1934 film L'Atalante (1934). The MAV tattooed on his left arm is the abbreviation of the French saying "morts aux vaches", which translates roughly to "death to the cows/police".
Jeff Goldblum plays Vilmos Kovacs, a tribute to cinematographers Vilmos Zsigmond and László Kovács.
In an interview with Stefan Zweig's biographer, Wes Anderson singles out two of Zweig's books, "Beware of Pity" and "The Post Office Girl" as ones from which this film has elements "that were sort of stolen . . . ". He also states, "Two characters in our story are vaguely meant to represent Zweig himself--our 'Author' character, played by 'Tom Wilkinson', and the theoretically fictionalized version of himself, played by Jude Law. But, in fact, M. Gustave, the main character who is played by Ralph Fiennes, is modeled significantly on Zweig as well."
In addition to this film, Edward Norton starred in Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (2014). Both films led the 2015 Oscar nominations with nine each.
The Art Museum that Kovacs hides in is the Zwinger in Dresden, Germany. It was built as an orangery, garden and festival area.
Angela Lansbury was originally cast as Madame D. She had to drop out due to scheduling conflicts with the stage production of "Driving Miss Daisy".
The scene in which Ludwig (Harvey Keitel) says "Good luck, kid!" before slapping Zero (Tony Revolori) across the face was shot 42 times until Wes Anderson was satisfied. Keitel actually slapped Revolori each time.
Alexandre Desplat's Oscar for Original Musical Score marks the first time a comedy has won the award since Shakespeare in Love (1998), though in that year the Academy had two categories for score (Dramatic Score and Comedy Score) and the first comedy score to win without two categories ever since One Hundred Men and a Girl (1937).
The film contains several references to Agatha Christie's mysteries, including naming a character Agatha. Specifically referenced is "4:50 from Paddington," a Miss Marple Mystery. In that book, the word "tontine" is used as a clue, a body is found in a sarcophagus, and a family lawyer deals with the will of an elderly person who has died and the family wants the money divided up.
L'Air de Panache (roughly: The air of flamboyant style) was actually produced by a Parisian fragrance boutique for Wes Anderson to give to his actors.
The fictional painter Johannes van Hoytl the Younger (1613-1669) is based on a combination of Hans Holbein the Younger (1497-1543) and Lucas Cranach the Elder (1472-1553).
The traditional Fox fanfare is not heard in the film's opening titles.
During the film, the concierges always address others and themselves with the title Monsieur. This is true of Messers. Owen Wilson as M. Chuck, Bill Murray as M. Ivan, Bob Balaban as M. Martin, Fisher Stevens as M. Robin Wallace Wolodarsky as M. Georges, Waris Ahluwalia as M. Dino. The only time this is not applied is during the "Secret Society of the Crossed Keys" sequence, where all the concierges are referred to by their first names.
Zero is named for Zero Mostel.
The main auditorium room in Stadhalle was used and appears several times throughout the movie but with different identities:
  • Schloss Lutz trophy room (the reading of Madame D's will)
  • The dining hall between the Writer and Moustafa in 1968.
  • The hall of armor suits where Jopling pursues Kovacs
  • The train facade
  • The inner rooms of the monastery that Serge-X was hiding
Ralph Fiennes partly based his characters' vocal traits on British comic actor Leonard Rossiter.
When Jopling is examining Agatha's picture on his deck, the insignia of the Zig-Zag division next to the photo is of similar design of the one belonging to the Nazi SS.
Numerous German words and names are used in the movie, apparently to add to the ambiance of Zubrowka as a fictional Central-European country in the early 20th century, slightly resembling Austria-Hungary. Nebelsbad translates to "Fog's Bath". Lutz, the name of Madame D.s home, is a male name, and the name of a river in the Greater Walsertal in Austria. Madame D.s family name is Desgoffe und Taxis. Derived from Tasso, which is Italian for badger, Taxis is an existing house of upper nobility, originally from medieval Italy, now located in Regensburg, Southern Germany as von Thurn und Taxis. Gabelmeister's peak combines Gabel (fork) and Meister (master).
JG Jopling has a concealed Browning Model 1910 pistol strapped to his jacket, and a Colt M1911 pistol laying on his desk, but never uses either in the movie.
When Dmitri checks into the Grand Budapest, at the start of the war, Mr. Chuck, puts him in the "Ferdinand Suite". World War I started because of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand.
The prison which is shown twice for a short moment is in fact Kriebstein castle close to Chemnitz, Germany.
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Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider.
Skotak from Moonrise Kingdom (2012) is also seen in this film playing Otto the new lobby boy.
Gustave's prisoner number is 112, the emergency response number for most of Europe.
In Rabbinical lore, the "Lutz" is a bone that houses the soul after death in preparation for the next life.
Reunites Ralph Fiennes and Willem Dafoe 18 years after they co-starred in The English Patient (1996).
When M. Gustave says "Thank you Wolf" to Karl Markovics before being told of the escape plan Markovics is sitting next to Harvey Keitel who played "The Wolf" in Pulp Fiction (1994).
The motorcycle JG Jopling rides in the movie is an early 1930's BMW R12.
Jean Dujardin and Vincent Cassel were considered for the part of Serge X.
The 1968 sequences involving Jude Law and F. Murray Abraham were filmed first. This is because when the production team first accessed the vacant old Gorlitz department used for the hotel lobby and later the shuttered concert hall Stadhalle, it was originally discovered in an ideal envisioned state - shabby, crumbling but somehow enchanting in the ruins; It also makes the areas it more claustrophobic when drop-ceiling and wall flats are added. After that, the production was halted for three days to allow Adam Stockhausen and his art team to redress the entire area to simulate the hotel in the 1930s. The drop ceiling was for the lobby then removed to reveal the original three-floor area, but was CG-augmented to six floors.
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This is the first time Wes Anderson has used the 1.33:1 aspect ratio since the short film version of Bottle Rocket (1994).
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As an example of how important attention to detail is in movies, graphic designer Annie Atkins stated in interviews that they had created a prop notebook for the character of Ralph Fiennes to use. However, Fiennes immediately noticed that the notebook had no lines in it. After arguing that an organized and meticulous man as his character Mr Gustave would always prefer lines to write on, the design department got him a notebook with lines. Atkins later stopped using this example when she learned that journalists had completely missed her point, and wrote about Fiennes' alleged diva behavior on the set.
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The film has three actors who have appeared in James Bond films opposite Daniel Craig. Ralph Fiennes (Skyfall (2012)), Mathieu Amalric (Quantum of Solace (2008)) and Léa Seydoux (Spectre (2015)).
Jeff Goldblum plays Deputy Kovacs. Goldblum played comedian Ernie Kovacs in Ernie Kovacs: Between the Laughter (1984).
This is the first of three movies in which Tilda Swinton and Ralph Fiennes appeared together. It was followed by A Bigger Splash (2015) and Hail, Caesar! (2016).
Reunites Bill Murray and Saoirse Ronan, who previously co-starred in City of Ember (2008).
The birthmark on Agatha's right cheek is in the shape of the country of Mexico.
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M. Gustave does not appear until nearly 10 minutes into the film.
Harvey Keitel also appears in Inglourious Basterds (2009) (though only in a voice cameo) which was also shot in the small town of Gorlitz.
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Second film with Tom Wilkinson involving the stealing of a painting; the other one is RocknRolla (2008). Both films are also comedies.
Tom Wilkinson and Tilda Swinton also appeared in Michael Clayton (2007). However, they don't share scenes on either films.
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Reunites Jude Law and Jason Schwartzman who previously starred in "I Heart Huckabee's" together.
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Jean Dujardin: a German gunman in the hotel shootout scene.
Lucas Hedges: The actor who plays the pump attendant, and sits on, and fills Jopling's motorcycle, also appeared in Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom (2012) as Redford, a Khaki Scout who rides a motorcycle.


The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

Zero leaves Agatha a note revealing the hiding place of "Boy With Apple," and he advises her that it is "in code." The note really consists of straightforward directions to the hiding place, with some letters flipped backwards so that an E looks like a 3, an S looks like a Z, etc. The note is shown in close-up only for a few seconds, but is plainly decipherable.
Boy with Apple" appears in various locations throughout the hotel, such as on the back of the menu, when Zero is ordering dinner and champagne and begins to tell his story.
In the wedding scene, the snowy rock formation in the background is the Saxon Switzerland (Sächsische Schweiz) in the region of Saxony, Germany.
At the end of the movie when Mr. Moustafa and the Young Writer are done talking, they walk to the front desk to get their keys. At this moment you can see the painting "The Boy With Apple" hanging between all the keys. This means Zero never sold it.
Of the many crudities and tragedies in the film, most were not explicitly shown on screen. All the following scenes are off-screen, either suggested through subtle visual cues, reactions of third parties or learned/narrated afterwards. A main character was arrested and executed by soldiers. Another character was brutally assaulted and lost some body parts before being killed violently. A character was poisoned by someone close and died. Yet another character was strangled to death. A minor character was decapitated, though it's unclear as to the cause of death. In an escape scene, a character fought several other men in a brutal close-quarter combat, killing all opponents before being stabbed in the heart. This is the only death explicitly shown on-screen. Despite most of these scenes being off-screen, the movie was still rated R, due to foul language, rather than the depiction of violence.
There were rumors that George Clooney makes a cameo during the shootout scene in the hotel.
Body Count: 12.
When Jopling (Willem Dafoe) cuts off four fingers from Kovacs' hand, it calls to mind the scene in The English Patient (1996) where Dafoe's character has his thumbs cut off.

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