The Wes Anderson Collection : The Grand Budapest Hotel, Hardback

The Wes Anderson Collection : The Grand Budapest Hotel Hardback

5 out of 5 (2 ratings)


Wes Anderson's eighth feature film, a meticulously crafted, visually resplendent matryoshka-doll caper set primarily in an alternate-history version of 1930s Europe, The Grand Budapest Hotel is, perhaps, the fullest expression to date of Anderson's varied thematic and stylistic idiosyncrasies, influences, and obsessions.

This supplemental one-volume companion to The Wes Anderson Collection (Abrams 2013) is the only book to take readers behind the scenes of The Grand Budapest Hotel with in-depth interviews between Anderson and cultural critic and New York Times bestselling author Matt Zoller Seitz. Anderson shares the story behind the film's conception, the wide variety of sources that inspired it--from author Stefan Zweig to filmmaker Ernst Lubitsch to Photochrom landscapes from turn-of-the-century Middle Europe--personal anecdotes about the making of the film, and many other reflections on his filmmaking process.

These interviews will be accompanied by behind-the-scenes photos, ephemera, and artwork.




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Review by

Through a series of interviews, short essays and excerpts, Seitz brings together a collage of the sources, inspiration, and methods used to create the film The Grand Budapest Hotel. As in real life, the film mixes up tragic and comic elements. The mood is one of a lost world, but how grand to actually have something you would regret losing, even if it is an imagined civilization. How is this beautiful world and its loss brought to the screen? Seitz explains technical details, such as adapting narrative devices from Stefan Zweig's fiction to the big screen. In fact he revels in details such as sourcing the facecloth used in the costumes, or aspect ratios. And he provides lots of information about locations and sets. While Anderson in his interviews speaks freely about complex logistics, he is unwilling to name the real-life inspiration for Gustave himself, just that there is one. I also found the interview with Fiennes charming but rather opaque; he's like a magician who doesn't want to reveal his tricks. Seitz compensates for these gaps by placing the GBH in the context of film history, referencing influences on Anderson from Ernst Lubitsch to Stanley Kubrick and on to Werner Herzog. One real joy is the interview with composer Alexandre Desplat, who is able to articulate the way the music is composed to support to shifting moods in the film. There are excerpts from Zweig's writings, but they are best read in their entirety. As one would expect from a publisher as visually savvy as Abrams, the color plates are stunning, providing a chance to notice fine touches that go by too fast on the screen to properly appreciate. There are stills from the sets used in filming, all arranged on the page to seduce the eye with the contrast between illusion and how it is created, like the wizard of oz.

Review by

(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography []. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.)Up to very recently, I have to admit that the twee antics of filmmaker Wes Anderson were starting to wear dangerously thin with me, exemplified in the overly precious, simultaneously empty and heavy-handed <i>Moonrise Kingdom</i> from 2012; ah, but then Anderson released the astounding <i>Grand Budapest Hotel</i> two years later, a masterpiece of artificiality with the kind of dark undertones and grand scope that he's so desperately needed in his career to cut through the hipster treacle, a story that was not by coincidence directly inspired by and a loving homage to the obscure anti-Nazi Vienna intellectual Stephan Zweig, whose most famous works all have to do with how World War Two essentially ruined everything great about Europe for good. And for those like me who ended up forming a bit of an obsession over this endlessly inventive movie, you'll definitely want to pick up the companion book put together with the filmmaker's participation (written and edited by the Pulitzer-nominated film critic Matt Zoller Seitz); an overstuffed, oversized coffee table tome, it covers literally every single aspect of this complicated production, from an analytical look at Zweig's writing to hundreds of behind-the-scenes photos from the sets themselves, before-and-after shots of various CG effects, the original drawings from the costume designers, and a lot more. I'm not usually a fan of these expensive "official companion" volumes of Hollywood movies, but <i>Grand Budapest Hotel</i> is simply too big and too impressive a project to pass this one by, a gorgeous volume that's worth every penny.Out of 10: <b>9.7</b>

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