Thursday, March 25, 2021

RW411 - Wes Anderson Rewatch - The Grand Budapest Hotel


In this episode of The Wes ANDERSON Rewatch, Cory and Nathan have the show running like clockwork as they discuss "The Grand Budapest Hotel."


Our Favourite Trivia:

Drafting of The Grand Budapest Hotel story began in 2006, when Wes Anderson produced an 18-page script with longtime collaborator Hugo Guinness. They imagined a fragmented tale of a character inspired by a mutual friend, based in modern France and the United Kingdom.

Anderson's sightseeing in Europe was another source of inspiration for The Grand Budapest Hotel's visual motifs. The writer-director visited Vienna, Munich, and other major cities before the project's conception, but most location scouting began after the Cannes premiere of his coming-of-age drama Moonrise Kingdom (2012). He and the producers toured Budapest, small Italian spa towns, and the Czech resort Karlovy Vary before a final stop in Germany, consulting hotel staff to develop an accurate idea of a real-life concierge's work.

A seventeen-actor ensemble received star billing in The Grand Budapest Hotel. Anderson customarily employs a troupe of longtime collaborators—Bill Murray, Adrien Brody, Edward Norton, Owen Wilson, Tilda Swinton, Harvey Keitel, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, and Jason Schwartzman have worked on one or more of his projects. Norton and Murray immediately signed when sent the script.

The cast includes four Oscar winners: Adrien Brody, Tilda Swinton, Fisher Stevens, and F. Murray Abraham; and twelve Oscar nominees: Bill Murray, Jude Law, Jeff Goldblum, Edward Norton, Owen Wilson, Harvey Keitel, Bob Balaban, Tom Wilkinson, Willem Dafoe, Ralph Fiennes, Lucas Hedges, and Saoirse Ronan.

Anderson desired an English actor to play Gustave, and Fiennes was an actor he sought to work with for several years. Fiennes, surprised by the offer, was eager to depart from his famously villainous roles and found Gustave's panache compelling. Fiennes said he was initially unsure how to approach his character because the extent of Anderson's oversight meant actors could not improvise on set, constraining his usually instinctive performing style. The direction of Gustave's persona then became another question of tone, whether the portrayal be hyper-camp or understated.

Filmmakers held auditions in Egypt, Lebanon, Israel, France, England, and the United States before revising the role's ethnic criterion. Eventually the filmmakers narrowed their search to Tony Revolori and his older brother Mario, novices of Guatemalan descent, and Tony landed the part after one taped audition. He and Anderson rehearsed together for over four months before the start of filming to build a rapport. Abraham spent about a week on set filming his scenes as the elderly Zero.

Zero was named after Zero Mostel.

Saoirse Ronan joined The Grand Budapest Hotel in November 2012. Though a longtime Anderson fan, Ronan feared the deadpan, theatrical acting style characteristic of Anderson-directed films would be too difficult to master. She was reassured by the writer-director's conviction, "He guides everyone extremely well. He is very secure in his vision and he is very comfortable with everything he does. He knows it is going to work." The decision to play Agatha with Ronan's native Irish accent was Anderson's idea, after experimenting with German, English, and American accents; they felt an Irish accent projected a warm, feisty spirit into Agatha.

The project was Robert Yeoman's eighth film with Anderson. Yeoman participated in an early scouting session with Anderson, recording footage with a stand-in film crew to assess how certain scenes would unfold.

The Grand Budapest Hotel uses three aspect ratios as framing devices which streamline the film's story, evoking the aesthetic of the corresponding periods. The multifarious structure of The Grand Budapest Hotel emerged from Anderson's desire to shoot in 1.37:1 format, also known as Academy ratio. Production used Academy ratio for scenes set in 1932, which, according to Yeoman, provided the filmmakers with greater-than-routine headroom. He and the producers referred to the work of Ernst Lubitsch and other directors of the period to acclimate to the compositions produced from said format. Filmmakers formatted modern scenes in standard 1.85:1 ratio, and the 1968 scenes were captured in widescreen 2.40:1 ratio

The scene in which Ludwig (Harvey Keitel) says "Good luck, kid!" before slapping Zero (Tony Revolori) across the face was shot forty-two times until Wes Anderson was satisfied. Keitel actually slapped Revolori each time.

According to Wes Anderson, the cast stayed in the same hotel, the Hotel Börse in Görlitz, Germany during principal photography. He insisted all make-up and costume fittings happen in the hotel lobby to speed up filming. The owner of the hotel appeared in this movie as an extra working the front desk of The Grand Budapest Hotel. After filming ended for the day, the crew often returned to find him at the front desk of their own hotel.

Tilda Swinton spent five hours in the make-up chair to play eighty-four-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 make-up, I just said, 'let's get the most expensive people we can'."

This was the highest-grossing independent movie of 2014, and the highest-grossing limited-release movie of 2014.

Wes Anderson had all of his male cast members grow their head/face hair in the months leading up to production, and then they were each stylized once they arrived on set. "I think we certainly have the maximum supply of mustaches in this film," says Anderson.

Jeff Goldblum suggested a dialogue change - swapping a "the" for an "an" - but was shut down by Wes Anderson. A later instance, though, saw Goldblum suggest the addition of the word "ostensibly" to a line, and the director agreed as the argument was based in logic.

What's Up Next?

Next week we discuss "Isle of Dogs"

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