"The Grand Budapest Hotel," out in limited U.S. release on
Friday, is in part inspired by Anderson's own experiences of
living in Europe, the works of Austrian author Stefan Zweig, and
paying homage to an era where tradition reigned supreme.
"Each year I spend a pretty good part of the year in Europe for
the last 10 years or maybe more, so this is for me a chance to
do a story that relates to my own," Anderson said in his soft
hybrid accent that masks any hint of a Texas drawl.
"It's related to my own adventure of being abroad, of being a
foreigner abroad in a world, and my own sense of discovering new
things," he added, reclining on a sofa in a Beverly Hills hotel,
in one of his trademark light brown suits.
Texas-native Anderson, 44, has become synonymous with his
quirky, dark comedies such as 1998's "Rushmore," 2001's "The
Royal Tenenbaums," 2004's "The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou,"
and his 2009 adaptation of Roald Dahl's "Fantastic Mr. Fox" that
have drawn a cult audience.
For his devoted fans, "Grand Budapest Hotel" offers up all of
his trademarks — satirical comedy, eccentric characters, an
odd-ball love story and visually detailed settings.
British actor Ralph Fiennes leads a star-studded cast that
reunites some of Anderson's frequent collaborators, such as
Jason Schwartzman, Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody and Bill Murray.
Fiennes makes his Anderson film debut as Monsieur Gustave, the
meticulous, impatient, flamboyant concierge of the hotel with a
penchant for seducing old, rich widows.
"The reason I wanted him (Fiennes) is because I thought he is
the person who can take this character and not just do a turn
with it. He can make this a real person," Anderson said.
The film spans different time periods, flitting between the
1960s and the 1930s, in order to shape a narrative based on a
"story within a story within a story," Anderson said.
When one particular old, rich dame, played by a heavily
transformed Tilda Swinton, bites the dust, Gustave and his
trusted new lobby boy Zero (played by newcomer Tony Revolori)
find themselves in a caper involving the heist of a priceless
painting, ruthless henchmen, a stint in prison, pastries and the
intriguingly mysterious Society of the Crossed Keys.
[to top of second column]
HEARKENING THE PAST
At the center of the film is the pink 19th century Grand Budapest
Hotel, of which an intricate miniature model was built for many of
the landscape and exterior shots.
The rest was filmed in a turn-of-the-century gothic-style department
store located in the German city of Goerlitz, on the Polish border.
"My sources for all the visual stuff is old photographs, these old
images and it's really gathering ideas from research," the filmmaker
said. "It's usually a surprise to me, what happens when you mix
these chemicals together."
The aesthetic of the Grand Budapest Hotel, located in the fictional
Republic of Zubrowka, hearkens to the decadence of a bygone era,
where old money and culture reigned supreme.
Monsieur Gustave is an extension of the hotel himself, embodying its
traditional beliefs, and both are challenged by a world changing
quickly around them.
"That's a reality that existed; wars came and ways of life changed,
and in that part of the world, there were political changes that
altered everything. That's what the movie's about a little bit.
That's the backdrop," Anderson said.
Last year, Anderson found his biggest hit with "Moonrise Kingdom,"
which earned him his third Oscar nomination for best original
screenplay, and made more than $68 million at the worldwide box
With his next, yet-to-be-titled project already in the works,
(Anderson declined details, saying it's too early to describe yet),
the director said he's finding himself drawn to conjuring up earlier
"Each movie I do, I feel like is in some way, a bit picking off
where I left off in the last movie, and so I have a feeling it might
have some connection to the past," he teased of his next project.
(Editing by Eric Kelsey and Lisa
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