top of page
  • Writer's pictureCarrie Specht

The Grand Budapest Hotel: Signature Wes Anderson

We are all fascinated by pretty colors that match and compliment each other, beautiful costuming, and scenic backgrounds, and so is Wes Anderson. The Grand Budapest Hotel is Wes Anderson’s eighth feature length film. It is filled with dry comedy, curious dialogue, and lovable characters, as well as set in picturesque areas and background drops that are sure to delight and please the eye. Just like in previous films Wes Anderson directed, he amazes us with the colors of the set design and costuming. But is that the only valuable part of the movie; it’s exterior? Absolutely not.

To begin with the film was shot in 35mm, as Wes Anderson requested to his cinematographer, Robert Yeoman. The film is not exactly widescreen; it has a boxy shape to it. Everything is focused in the middle of the screen. The cinematographer was nervous about making the film this way, but it ended up working out very well because it suited the mood, and character of the film. Everything on set including the characters are perfectly placed. All characters were placed evenly in the center of the frame during lengthy shots. Wes Anderson’s crew worked especially hard for it since they had to manually assess with a yellow tape measure that the character was in fact centered in the middle. On top of that several of the places Wes Anderson envisioned, simply didn’t exist. So an incredibly detailed mock up of The Grand Budapest Hotel was made, along with several beautifully hand painted backdrops. All that hard precious work paid off, and gave the film a memorable quirkiness.

The editing that takes place in this film is minimal. The film keeps it simple by doing basic cuts from shot to shot. I love this aspect of the film because I believe that if the editing were any more complex than it is, it would take away from the film. It would distract from all the little things occurring on screen. Often repeated throughout the film are long tracking shots. These shots work wonders for the film because they really grab the audience and show off all the beautiful work they’ve put into the set. They also make things flow smoothly throughout the film, and make people wonder just how did they do that? Another type of shot that is commonly repeated through the film is the whip pan. This shot also helps the film achieve its wonderful curiosity and quirkiness (whip pan is when the camera quickly moves to face another character, or area and lands perfectly still on the subject).

Now, onto the color wheel – yes, every single little thing on screen at any given shot corresponds with everything else when it comes to color. Wes Anderson is known for choosing a certain color pallet and sticking to that for his films. In Moonrise Kingdom, the color pallet that he used was filled with vibrant oranges, yellows, greens, and the occasional use of soft pink. He must have loved the look of pink on film because The Grand Budapest Hotel is covered in it. The color pallet he sticks to includes, soft pinks, vibrant pinks, soft reds, light blues, rich purples, and the occasional use of a soft yellow, all together all the time! The brilliance it takes to make all the colors work on set is amazing. The use of colors makes you fall in love with the film, and makes the film memorable and unique. It made my eyes want to just engulf the screen; it made my spine shiver, and it made me wish I had a great eye for interior design.

Of course, as much as the art design is a signature element to a Wes Anderson film you can’t forget his unique use of dialogue. The dialogue in this movie stands out virtually as character unto itself. Although, each character has a distinct pattern and delivery in their dialogue, which makes them stand out from one another, it’s surprising how it all remains distinctively Anderson. Some characters speak in quick patterns and muddle words together, and say curious phrases, while others are slower and have a darker outlook that comes out in their dialogue. Over all I love and adore all the little bits and fragments of dialogue that are shared throughout the script.

Another unifying factor is the music. The music used in the film ties everything together. The orchestral music lets the audience know what time period they are in, along with what level of social class the hotel is associated with. It is light, airy and moving. At times there is a choir that creates suspense in moments where needed. At other times there is the beat from a simple drum kit that keeps things going. Undoubtedly, the music in a Wes Anderson film breathes life into each and every scene. Slow music makes us feel what the characters are feeling in a sad scene, while adventurous and upbeat music makes us feel that moment of adventure that is taking place on the screen.

Now to move onto the most crucial part of a film, which isn’t set design, casting, characters, or even dialogue but the story. Every one of those aspects listed can be perfect and beautiful, but if the story drowns within all this and gets lost then the film in its entirety falls apart. The story illustrated in this film is interesting, and attention grabbing. There isn’t a moment where the story is lost. The audience is always reminded of what is at stake, and where the protagonist wants to get. The film has a strong sense of story. I enjoyed this film very much; because the screenplay itself is brilliant, and it’s evident that time was spent working hard on it because it shows on screen.

I will never forget when I first watched this film at the movie theater, I was excited and I had shivers going down my spine. Over all I completely enjoyed this film and all of the aspects that it has to offer. All the different bits and pieces that make the film are ones to enjoy and simply appreciate. I recommend seeing The Grand Budapest Hotel, because it truly does have something for everyone to enjoy.

bottom of page