Tilda Swinton spent 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."
According to Variety, Fox Searchlight sent its specification for the film's "proper projection" to theaters before its release. Although Wes Anderson's crime caper 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.
According to Wes Anderson, the whole cast stayed in the same hotel [Hotel Börse in Görlitz] during the film's principal photography. He insisted on all make-up and costume 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.
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 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 erotic painting that replaces "Boy with Apple" for a while is in the style of the early-twentieth-century Austrian painter Egon Schiele. However, it is not an actual Schiele painting; Wes Anderson actually commissioned the painting from Boston-based painter and illustrator Rich Pellegrino. Pellegrino first came to Anderson's attention because Pellegrino is a regular contributor to "Bad Dads," an annual exhibit in San Francisco of artwork inspired by the movies of Wes Anderson. The official title of Pellegrino's Schiele-like painting that appears in this film is "Two Lesbians Masturbating."
As of January 2015, this is the highest-grossing film of Wes Anderson's film-making career, grossing $175 million 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 in just 4 theatrical screenings, averaging $202,000 per screen.
The movie soundtrack features a rare instrument - the balalaika, a typical triangular-shaped Russian folk instrument which was carefully chosen by producer 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 Wes 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).
Ludwig's (Harvey Keitel's prisoner character) 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 French saying 'morts aux vaches' which translates roughly to 'death to the pigs/police'
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' from which The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014) 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 fictionalised version of himself, played by Jude Law. But, in fact, M. Gustave, the main character who is played by Ralph Fiennes, is modelled significantly on Zweig as well."
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 there is a family lawyer who deals with the will of an elderly person who has died and the family wants the money divided up.
Alexandre Desplat's original musical score Oscar marks as the first comedy to win the award ever 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).
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 by a child of 6.
At the end of the movie when Mr. Moustafa (Murray Abraham) and the Young Writer (Jude Law) 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 lobby boy never sold it.