Today we celebrate the great Wes Anderson’s birthday, a man who has demonstrated true originality in every film he’s made from his first film twenty years ago, Rushmore to his most elaborate and daring work, my personal favorite film of all time, The Grand Budapest Hotel. I was fourteen year-old who simply liked movies, enamored with the MCU and big blockbusters coming out in theaters, I had slowly begun to get sucked into a bunch of movie podcasts on Youtube, some of which I watch religiously now, my knowledge and perception of movies had begun to change, and then I watched two films that defined what films were capable of, one being A Clockwork Orange which I’ve discussed about before on this site, and the other being The Grand Budapest Hotel. Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel was the first true film experience I had in the theaters, sure I’d watched Revenge of the Sith and Iron Man back when I was smaller, but this, this was different, this was a euphoric experience that transcended the screen, demonstrated perfection in tone, character-work, production, lighting, everything, and it since then my small knowledge of film has become encyclopedic and I emerged from that screening as a full fledged film-buff.
As I mentioned before, I believe The Grand Budapest Hotel is a film that’s at the cusp of mirroring perfection, a true masterpiece of that will define this and many more decades to come. Wes Anderson is a filmmaker that constantly challenges himself with each film he tackles, a true auteur of the modern cinematic landscape, somehow he manages to make these lavishly-looking films with under 30 million dollar budgets, a pioneer from the 90’s indie director movement, a man who gather tremendous casts, a director under the age of fifty who already has six Oscar nominations under his belt, he is his own unique vision and all of this can be seen in his masterpiece, The Grand Budapest Hotel. An intricate classic conspiracy/murder-tale about fugitives on the run that’s also a beautiful romance/bromance disguised under a sprawling war-epic being told from a person within a story which is being a re-told by the author of the man who published this story and is being read at the moment, The Grand Budapest is all of that plus amazing chase-sequences, hilarious subtle moments, grand scope and so much more, perfectly manipulated by Anderson, never feeling confusing, framed to perfection, scored beautifully by Alexander Despalt, an amalgamation of pure talent held under two-hours and at a perfect pace, this is Wes Anderson’s masterwork, at least until now since he’s been continually proving himself better with each film he releases.
Wes Anderson, as I mentioned above is a creative force to be reckoned with and that can be seen in every single frame of this film. He delicately frames each sequence, he deliberately places paintings crooked to add to the sloppiness of a certain character, defines a character by looks and then complements him with inventive, beautiful dialogue. something he magnificently portrays with this film’s vibrant characters, from Ralph Fiennes world-class performance as M. Gustave, the choice to include Adrien Brody who adds a malevolent presence to each scene he’s in, even small roles held by Willem Dafoe who’s actually one of my favorite’s components of this film, Jeff Goldblum, Tilda Swinton, Harvey Kietel or Edward Norton. Plus, the wonderful introduction to the tremendous young talent that is Tony Revolori, apparently now a member of the MCU like every other actor out there. But the way Wes Anderson displays this perfect rapport between concierge and lobby boy in Fiennes and Revolori is incredible, you really do believe they’re best of mates, you really do believe they will always be there for each other despite all the horrid events they’re put through. The same can be said about the small, yet-beautiful relationship formed between Revolori and Saoirse Ronan in a naturalistic manner that never obstructs the flow of narrative progression in this film. Which also something Anderson maneuvers perfectly, time.
The way Wes Anderson is able to capture time with The Grand Budapest is incredibly astute and crafty as he labels each moment in time with a singular look and feel to it, you’ve got age variations of the same character yet and constant jumping back and forth, yet you never feel lost, Anderson manages to always display everything in a straightforward way that helps the progression of the story and places you right where you should be as the viewer. Though of course Boyhood takes the 2014 title for dealing with the way time is portrayed, the style in which Wes Anderson portrays shits in time along a non-linear storyline is impressive.
Having mentioned the divine acting talents the ensemble brought along with them for this film, as well as the constant shifts in time, I cannot forget the aesthetic perfection Wes Anderson brings to each of his projects. Via miniatures, framing, the perfect addition of subtle sounds to alleviate dire situations, as well as the incredible detail added to the film’s production really brings each scene to life. The Grand Budapest Hotel itself is a perfect representation of this, an exquisite miniature that feels reminiscent of a time long gone, Madame D.’s manor, or Zubrowka as a whole all evoke the work of Anderson’s magical realism which he explored in Moonrise Kingdom. Then combined with his expertise in relation to framing and having Robert Yeoman as his cinematographer once again brings Anderson’s vision to life. Plus, an amazing addition of stop-motion used in one of the most beautiful chase sequences put on film in the last ten years.
And, lets not forget how perfectly balanced the tone in this film is. From dramatic monologues to moments of sheer brilliant comedy shinning, and even elements of subtle love-story brewing, The Grand Budapest Hotel manages to meld a variety of tones that should not go together into this perfect complementing piece of the world that can be observed in The Grand Budapest. It maneuvers treacherous terrain as it deals with refugees, fascism, war, and more. Its a fantastic representation of how expressive the world is plastered onto film, a wondrous kaleidoscopic vision only Anderson could translate into film format. Demonstrating he could inject the most dysfunctional family with that much of a graceful touch of comedy with the Tenenbaum’s or the Whitman’s, what he was able to do here is a proper evolution of that, mixing elements he’s learned since such as how to properly portray a subtle love story in Moonrise, how to expand upon the elements of a working family which was depicted in Fantastic Mr. Fox, all leading to the seminal work of perfect balance in tone he has depicted with The Grand Budapest Hotel.
In conclusion, The Grand Budapest Hotel is a film close to reaching perfection, a beautiful masterpiece brought to life by the one & only Wes Anderson. A fantastic mixture of art, character-work, action, love, comedy, a perfect balance in tone, and so much more magical moments, The Grand Budapest Hotel is a work like no other that illuminates the future of filmmaking whilst treating film of times long gone with reverence. Its a beautiful culmination of artistic singularity brought to life from probably the most brilliant auteur working in the film industry today. The Grand Budapest Hotel is fantastic and a 97 out of 100 from my part. Happy Birthday Wes Anderson!!