All Wes Anderson films are visually astounding and the latest The Grand Budapest Hotel, does not disappoint. Who knew I could enjoy red, tangerine and citrine lacquers, purple tuxedos, pastel bath houses, pink pastry boxes and a fictional country in Alpine Europe set in the 30’s so much? Of course I knew I would. A Wes Anderson movie is a trip into a world onto its own, a whimsical beautiful world where joy and sadness, quirkiness, characters and composition reign. The movie is set in the fictional country of Zubrowka in the early 1930s – the country has its own website where you can learn more about it’s history. The task of bringing these elaborate locations to life fell to production designer Adam Stockhausen, who also collaborated with Anderson on The Darjeeling Limited and Moonrise Kingdom. The film shifts between the hotel’s heyday as a celebrated spa resort during the glamorous 1930s to its faded glory in the ’60s when the writers’ character played by Jude Law, meets with a Mr Mustafa who then tells the story of Ralph Fiennes’s glory days as Gustave H, the head concierge at The Grand Budapest, and the movie jolts back to the 30’s when Mr Mustafa was the young lobby boy Zero, and Gustave was a charming, vain and slightly caddish concierge who kept all his old women guests very happy. The tale is madcap and charming and sweet and sad… but even if it was horrible, the sheer beauty of each frame would make it amazing. Plus the cameos from every actor in Wes’s arsenal makes the movie seem like a lot of fun to make!
Some info about the set design from Arch Digest:
Görlitz, Germany’s cavernous former Görlitzer Warenhaus department store building served as the location for the primary sets and production offices.he incredible stairways, elevators, and atrium of the 1913 Jugendstil building caught the eye of production designer Adam Stockhausen and his crew, who transformed the space into the interiors of the hotel. Inspiration for the hotel/spa resort came from a variety of sources. “We looked through loads of books—anything we could find on hotel history or luxury travel,” Stockhausen explains. The designers also checked out real spots, among them existing spas and hotels in Germany and the Czech Republic—including the the Hotel Adlon in Berlin and the Grandhotel Pupp in Karlovy Vary—as well as London’s Savoy Hotel, for ideas. Stockhausen notes that the German artistic style Jugendstil (popular from the mid-1890s to the early 20th century) was the primary influence for the hotel’s decor. An early-1900s arch-laden bathhouse discovered in Görlitz during production doubled as the hotel’s pool and spa.
A hand-painted mural of the Alps is the focal point of hotel’s dining room. “The dining room was set in a performance space with a stage, so a backdrop seemed right. We saw references from other hotels that had banquets in ballrooms with mountain paintings,” explains Stockhausen.
Photochroms, vintage colorized images from black-and-white photographic negatives, from the 1920s and ’30s found at the Library of Congress’s Photochrom Prints Collection were also important reference points. “There are specific details we used, such as funiculars leading up to hilltop hotels, but I think, more importantly, as a group the prints show a lost world full of mountaintop hotels, trains, exotic corners of Europe, colonnades, and fountains,” explains Stockhausen. “So much of this film is about Monsieur Gustave’s world being lost and forgotten, and just leafing through the photochroms starts to take you into his world.”
Also delightful is this Wes Anderson Centered video. It’s amazing.
We should all be so lucky as to live in a world designed and peopled by Wes Anderson.