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."
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'."
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 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.
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.
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 erotic painting that replaces "Boy with Apple" for a while is in the style of the early 20th-century Austrian painter Egon Schiele. However, Wes Anderson actually commissioned the painting from Boston-based painter and illustrator Rich Pellegrino. Pellegrino is a regular contributor to "Bad Dads," an annual exhibit in San Francisco of artwork inspired by the movies of Anderson. The painting's official title is "Two Lesbians Masturbating."
As of January 2015 this is the highest-grossing film of Wes Anderson's 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 four theatrical screenings, averaging $202,000 per screen.
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).
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 pigs/police".
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).
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 Jas 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."
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.
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."
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.
At the end of the movie when Mr. Moustafa (F. 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.
A number of 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).