The Grand Budapest Hotel

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The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Grand Budapest Hotel Poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Wes Anderson
Produced by
Screenplay by Wes Anderson
Story by
Music by Alexandre Desplat[1]
Cinematography Robert Yeoman
Edited by Barney Pilling
Distributed by Fox Searchlight Pictures
Release date(s)
  • 6 February 2014 (2014-02-06) (Berlin)
  • 6 March 2014 (2014-03-06) (Germany)
  • 7 March 2014 (2014-03-07) (United Kingdom)
Running time 99 minutes[2]
Language English
Budget $31 million[6][7]
Box office $171,060,878[5][8]

The Grand Budapest Hotel is a 2014 comedy film[9][10][11] written and directed by Wes Anderson and inspired by the writings of Stefan Zweig. It stars Ralph Fiennes as a concierge who teams up with one of his employees to prove his innocence after he is framed for murder.

The film is a British-German co-production financed by German financial companies and film funding organizations, and was filmed entirely on location in Germany.[12][13][14]


In the present, a teenage girl approaches a monument to a writer in a cemetery. In her arms is a memoir penned by a character known only as "The Author" (Tom Wilkinson). She starts reading a chapter from the book. The Author begins narrating the tale from his desk in 1985 about a trip he made to the Grand Budapest Hotel in 1968.

Located in the fictional Republic of Zubrowka,[a] a European alpine state[15] ravaged by war and poverty, the young Author (Jude Law) discovers that the remote mountainside hotel has fallen on hard times. Many of its lustrous facilities are now in a poor state of repair, and its guests are few. The Author encounters the hotel's elderly owner, Zero Moustafa (F. Murray Abraham), one afternoon, and they agree to meet later that evening. Over dinner in the hotel's enormous dining room, Zero tells him the tale of how he took ownership of the hotel and why he is unwilling to close it down.[16]

The story begins in 1932 during the hotel's glory days when the young Zero (Tony Revolori) was a lobby boy. Zubrowka is on the verge of war, but this is of little concern to Monsieur Gustave H. (Ralph Fiennes), the Grand Budapest's devoted concierge. The owner of the hotel is unknown and only relays important messages through lawyer Deputy Kovacs (Jeff Goldblum). When he is not attending to the needs of the hotel's wealthy clientele or managing its staff, Gustave courts a series of aging women who flock to the hotel to enjoy his "exceptional service". One of the ladies is Madame Céline Villeneuve "Madame D" Desgoffe und Taxis (Tilda Swinton), and Gustave spends the night with her prior to her departure.

One month later, he is informed that Madame D has died under mysterious circumstances. Taking Zero along, he races to her wake and the reading of the will, where Kovacs, coincidentally the executor of the will, reveals that she had bequeathed Gustave Boy with Apple, a very valuable painting, in her will. This enrages her family, all of whom hoped to inherit it. Her son, Dmitri Desgoffe und Taxis (Adrien Brody) lashes out at Gustave. With the help of Zero, Gustave takes the painting and returns to the Grand Budapest, securing the painting in the hotel's safe. During the journey, Gustave makes a pact with Zero: in return for the latter's help, he makes Zero his heir. Shortly thereafter, Gustave is arrested and imprisoned for the murder of Madame D after forced testimony by Serge X (Mathieu Amalric), Madame D's butler.

Zero aids Gustave in escaping from Zubrowka's prison by sending a series of stoneworking tools concealed inside cakes made by Zero's fiancée Agatha (Saoirse Ronan). Along with a group of convicts, Gustave digs his way out of his cell. Gustave then teams up with Zero to prove his innocence. They are pursued by J. G. Jopling (Willem Dafoe), a cold-blooded assassin working for Dmitri, who kills Kovacs when he refuses to work with Dmitri. Their adventure takes them to a mountaintop monastery where they meet with Serge, the only person who can clear Gustave of the murder accusations, but Serge is strangled by a pursuing Jopling before he can reveal a piece of important information. Zero and Gustave steal a sled and chase Jopling as he flees the monastery on skis. During a face-off at the edge of a cliff, Zero pushes the assassin to his death and rescues Gustave.

Back at the Grand Budapest, the outbreak of war is imminent, and the military have commandeered the hotel and are in the process of converting it into a barracks. A heartbroken Gustave vows to never again pass the threshold. Agatha joins the two and agrees to go inside and retrieve the painting, but Dmitri discovers her. A chase and a chaotic gunfight ensue before Gustave's innocence is finally proven by the discovery of the copy of Madame D's second will, which she gave to Serge and he subsequently hid in the back of the painting. This will was to take effect if she was murdered. The identity of Madame D's murderer and how Gustave is proved innocent are left ambiguous (though earlier in the film a suspicious bottle labeled "strychnine" [a potent poison] can be seen on Jopling's desk). The will also reveals that she was the owner of the Grand Budapest. She leaves much of her fortune, the hotel, and the painting to Gustave, making him wealthy in the process, and he becomes one of the hotel's regular guests while Zero becomes the new concierge.

During a train journey across the border, enemy soldiers inspect Gustave and Zero's papers. Zero describes Gustave being taken out and shot after defending Zero, as he did on the initial train ride in the beginning of the movie. Agatha succumbs to "the Prussian Grippe" and dies two years later, as does her infant son. Zero inherits the fortune Gustave leaves behind and vows to continue his legacy at the Grand Budapest, but a Communist takeover of Zubrowka and the ravages of time slowly begin to take their toll on both the building and its owner.

Zero confesses to the Author that he cannot bring himself to close the hotel because it is his last link to Agatha. The Author later departs for South America and never returns to the hotel.

Back in the present, the girl continues reading in front of the statue of the Author.



Palace Bristol Hotel in Karlovy Vary (Carlsbad)
Jelení skok (stag jump) near Karlovy Vary (Carlsbad), with the Hotel Imperial in the background

The Grand Budapest Hotel is a British-German co-production of Grand Budapest Limited (UK) and Neunzehnte Babelsberg Film GmbH (Germany).[3][13][14][24] The film was funded by the German Federal Film Fund (DFFF), Mitteldeutsche Medienförderung, Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg as well as Medien- und Filmgesellschaft Baden-Württemberg.[13][25]

It was filmed entirely on location in Germany, mainly in Görlitz and other parts of Saxony as well as at Studio Babelsberg.[26] Principal photography began in January 2013 on location in Berlin and Görlitz.[27] One of the principal locations was the defunct Görlitzer Warenhaus (de), a huge Jugendstil department store with a giant atrium, one of the few such department stores in Germany to survive World War II. It served as the atrium lobby of the hotel. Filming concluded in March 2013.

Anderson shot the film in three aspect ratios, 1.33, 1.85, and 2.35:1, one for each timeline.[28]

For wide shots of the hotel, Anderson used a three meter tall handmade miniature model. He felt that since audiences would know that the shot was artificial, computer-generated effects or otherwise, "The particular brand of artificiality that I like to use is an old-fashioned one."[29] He had previously used miniatures in The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou and more extensively in Fantastic Mr. Fox. In designing the hotel, Anderson and production designer Adam Stockhausen did extensive research, looking at vintage images at the Library of Congress of hotels and European vacation spots, as well as existing locales such as the pastel-pink Palace Bristol Hotel[30] prominently featured on movie advertisements and the Grandhotel Pupp in the spa town of Karlovy Vary (Carlsbad), Czech Republic and the Grandhotel Gellért in Budapest.[31][32] The model used varying scales: the hotel model was 14 feet long and 7 feet deep, the tree-spotted hill on which it stood was a different scale, and finally the funicular railway in the foreground was built to a third scale to capture it best cinematically.[29]

The fake newspapers in the film feature mainly original text, but also use some excerpts from three Wikipedia articles.[33]


The soundtrack is composed by Alexandre Desplat, who worked with Anderson previously on Fantastic Mr. Fox and Moonrise Kingdom. It is co-produced by Anderson with music supervisor, Randall Poster; they, too, worked together on Moonrise Kingdom. The original music is by Desplat, along with Russian folk songs and pieces composed by Öse Schuppel, Siegfried Behrend, and Vitaly Gnutov,[34] and performed by the Osipov State Russian Folk Orchestra.[35] The 32 tracks, with orchestral elements, keyboard instruments and ambient drones, feature eclectic variations and central melodic themes. Flamenco guitars are used in "Overture: M. Gustave H" and church organs in "Last Will and Testament". A music box interlude punctuates "Up the Stairs / Down the Hall", and there are haunted-house piano stylings in "Mr. Moustafa". Harpsichords and strings are featured in the baroque piece, "Concerto for Lute and Plucked Strings I. Moderato".[36] The opening song, the Appenzell yodel "s'Rothe-Zäuerli" by Ruedi and Werner Roth, is from the Swiss folk group's Öse Schuppel's album Appenzeller Zäuerli.[37]


On 16 October 2013, it was announced that the film would be released on 7 March 2014.[38] In November 2013, the film was announced as the opening film for the 64th Berlin International Film Festival in February 2014.[39] At Berlin, the film won the Jury Grand Prix Silver Bear award.[40]

Home media[edit]

The Grand Budapest Hotel was released on DVD and Blu-ray on 17 June 2014.[41]


Critical response[edit]

The Grand Budapest Hotel has received widespread critical acclaim, particularly for the film's unique style and Fiennes' lead performance. Film aggregator Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a 92% "fresh" rating, with an average score of 8.4/10, based on reviews from 220 critics. The consensus states: "Typically stylish but deceptively thoughtful, The Grand Budapest Hotel finds Wes Anderson once again using ornate visual environments to explore deeply emotional ideas."[42] Metacritic reported a score of 88 out of 100, based on 47 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".[43]

Alonso Duralde of The Wrap gave the film a positive review, saying "Course after course of desserts, presented with a flourish and served so promptly that you can barely catch your breath between treats. It's not until an hour or two has passed that you realize that you haven't really eaten anything."[44] Stephanie Zacharek of The Village Voice gave the film a negative review, saying "The Grand Budapest Hotel brought out my inner Hunca Munca, of Two Bad Mice fame: This meticulously appointed dollhouse of a movie just went on and on, making me want to smash many miniature plates of plaster food in frustration."[45] Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter gave the film a positive review, saying "In a very appealing if outre way, its sensibility and concerns are very much those of an earlier, more elegant era, meaning that the film's deepest intentions will fly far over the heads of most modern filmgoers."[46] Dave Calhoun of Time Out gave the film four out of five stars, saying "The film's shaggy-dog, sort-of-whodunit yarn offers laughs and energy that make this Anderson's most fun film since Rushmore."[47] J. R. Jones of Chicago Reader gave the film two out of four stars, saying "No amount of visual invention can substitute for characters, though, and Anderson doesn't so much write characters anymore as recruit a great cast and dress them up."[48] Jocelyn Noveck of the Associated Press gave the film three and a half stars out of four, saying "In the end it's Fiennes who makes the biggest impression. His stylized, rapid-fire delivery, dry wit and cheerful profanity keep the movie bubbling along. Here's to further Fiennes-Anderson collaborations."[49] Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly gave the film an A-, saying "I've had my Wes Anderson breakthrough – or maybe it's that he's had his. The Grand Budapest Hotel is a marvelous contraption, a wheels-within-wheels thriller that's pure oxygenated movie play."[50]

Joe Neumaier of the New York Daily News gave the film three out of five stars, saying "As with all of Anderson's films, the magic is in the cast. Fiennes, with his rapid-fire delivery and rapier mustache, is hilarious, dapper and total perfection."[51] Peter Travers of Rolling Stone gave the film three and a half out of four stars, saying "It's a filigreed toy box of a movie, so delicious-looking you may want to lick the screen. It is also, in the Anderson manner, shot through with humor, heartbreak and a bruised romantic's view of the past."[52] Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times gave the film a positive review, saying "Anderson works so assiduously to create obsessively detailed on-screen worlds that the effect has sometimes been hermetic, even stifling. "The Grand Budapest," however, is anything but."[53] Kate Erbland of gave the film an 8.2 out of 10, saying "Anderson has abandoned a bit of his whimsical nature for the later portions of the film, but the film's first half hour presents one of his most darling settings yet, until, of course, it all crumbles into murder, mayhem and bad renovations."[54] Ian Buckwalter of NPR gave the film a nine out of ten, saying "Grand Budapest is a culmination of the tinkly music-box aesthetic of Anderson's work to date, turned up to 11."[55] Stephen Whitty of the Newark Star-Ledger gave the film three and a half stars out of four, saying "While Anderson delights in creating a fictional (but very real) mittel-Europe, he also does it with the craft of old Hollywood, using carefully made miniatures and handpainted backdrops."[56] Tim Stanley of The Daily Telegraph concurs that while normally "Anderson writes about the American aristocracy", his latest film "about the European upper-crust...gets us perfectly. Anderson understands that the elegance of the Grand Budapest is just a facade, that beneath the glitter is the cancer of greed and fascism."[57] A. O. Scott of The New York Times gave the film a positive review, saying "This movie makes a marvelous mockery of history, turning its horrors into a series of graceful jokes and mischievous gestures. You can call this escapism if you like. You can also think of it as revenge."[58]

Peter Howell of the Toronto Star gave the film four out of four stars, saying "The entire movie is like a giant, elaborately decorated cake, created by this most exacting of film craftsmen. And how tasty it is!"[59] Ty Burr of The Boston Globe gave the film three and a half stars out of four, saying "With The Grand Budapest Hotel, Wes Anderson is up to his old tricks but with a magnanimous new confidence that feels like a gift."[60] Bruce Ingram of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film four out of five stars, saying "It's quintessential Anderson, in other words, but also an unabashed entertainment. And that's something to see."[61] Steven Rea of The Philadelphia Inquirer gave the film four out of four stars, saying "The Grand Budapest Hotel is by far the most headlong comedic affair in Anderson's canon. It's practically Marx Brothers-ian at moments. And Fiennes – who knew he was capable of such wicked, witty timing?!"[62] Liam Lacey of The Globe and Mail gave the film three and a half stars out of four, saying "From the start, it's clear Anderson is working with a new sophistication both in the vocabulary and structure of the film's voiceover narrations."[63] Christopher Orr of The Atlantic gave the film a positive review, saying "The comedy in The Grand Budapest Hotel is among the broadest yet undertaken by Anderson. But amid the frenzied hubbub, there are intimations of a darker, sadder history unfolding."[64] A.A. Dowd of The A.V. Club reviewed the film positively, saying "Anderson's latest invention, The Grand Budapest Hotel, may be his most meticulously realized, beginning with the towering, fictional building for which it's named."[65]

James Berardinelli of ReelViews gave the film three out of four stars, saying "It offers an engaging 90+ minutes of unconventional, comedy-tinged adventure that references numerous classic movies while developing a style and narrative approach all its own."[66] Moira MacDonald of The Seattle Times gave the film three and a half stars out of four, saying "Every frame is carefully composed like the illustrations from a beloved book (characters are precisely centered; costumes are elaborately literal); the dialogue feels both unexpected and happily familiar."[67] Colin Covert of the Star Tribune gave the film four out of four stars, saying "I'm not sure what the formal definition of a masterpiece is, but 'The Grand Budapest Hotel strikes me as something very close."[68] Margaret Pomeranz from At the Movies went further and named the film a masterpiece, giving it five out of five stars. She called the movie "the most exhilarating piece of cinema in recent memory" but noted the film's darker themes, commenting that underneath the beautiful and ridiculous nature of the film was a "sense of impending doom" and "sadness... this thing that's going to overwhelm Europe...and destroy it."[69]

Ann Hornaday of The Washington Post gave the film three out of four stars, saying "If Anderson buries relatively little moral substance under lavish dollops of rich cream, at least he, like his fascinating protagonist, sustains the illusion with a marvelous grace."[70] Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle gave the film four out of four stars, saying "The movie's sad undertone saves The Grand Budapest Hotel from its own zaniness – or better yet, elevates the zaniness, making it feel like an assertion of some right to be silly, or some fundamental human expression."[71] Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune gave the film three and a half stars out of four, saying "I would call The Grand Budapest Hotel major whimsy. It's a confection with bite, featuring an ensemble led by the invaluable Ralph Fiennes, here allowed to exercise his farceur's wiles."[72] David Denby of The New Yorker gave the film a positive review, saying "The opéra-bouffe plot serves as a strand of bright golden wire on which Anderson hangs innumerable encounters, scampering chases, and an archly decorative style of commentary."[73]

Box office[edit]

As of June 15, 2014, The Grand Budapest Hotel has grossed $59,051,486 in the United States and $111,995,635 in other countries for a worldwide total of $171,047,121.[8] In North America, the film opened in four theaters at number 17 in its first weekend, with $811,166.[74] In its second weekend, the film moved up to number eight, grossing an additional $3,638,041.[75] In its third weekend, the film moved up to number seven, grossing $6,787,955.[76] In its fourth weekend, the film moved up to number six, grossing $8,539,795.[77]

The film was Anderson's most successful live action film in the UK, reaching number one at the UK box office in its third week with a gross of £6.31 million.[78] The film was also Anderson's first number one film in the UK.[78]


  1. ^ The country's name refers to Żubrówka, a flavored vodka.


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External links[edit]