Wes Anderson’s latest film combines a great mix of nostalgia and faded grandeur in a rollicking piece of cinematic chaos
The interior of Tim Burton’s house – a gothic melange of skeletons and weird artefacts – wouldn’t be entirely out of place in one of his films.
But Wes Anderson’s New York apartment is nothing like the exquisitely cluttered worlds he has conjured up for The Royal Tenenbaums, The Darjeeling Limited or, most recently, The Grand Budapest Hotel.
“It’s very simple. It’s beige and it’s mostly made of plywood,’’ he says.
“What I like to do in my movies doesn’t necessarily reflect the way I like to live.
“It’s quite separate from it, in fact. I tend to fill my movies up with a lot of things.
“And I tend to get rid of a lot of things in my life.”
In conversation, Anderson chooses his words with almost as much care as he designs each frame of his movies, which are noted for their meticulous detail.
His manners would meet even the impossibly high standards of Gustave H. (Ralph Fiennes), The Grand Budapest’s smooth-talking concierge.
But that potentially cold-fish perfectionism is offset by a genuine appreciation of the human condition.
It’s an appealing combination and one that wouldn’t surprise the 44-year-old filmmaker’s many devotees, who point out that the characters in Anderson’s painstakinglyconstructed worlds tend to create chaos.
Anderson’s previous two films, Moonrise Kingdom and Fantastic Mr Fox, have garnered some of the best reviews of his career, which began in 1996 with Bottle Rocket.
But The Grand Budapest, described by one critic as the closest Anderson will ever come to a WWII film, has gone one step further, translating that critical acclaim into crossover audiences and record-breaking box office.
Featuring a stellar cast that includes Jude Law, Tilda Swinton, Jeff Goldblum, Edward Norton, Harvey Keitel and Anderson regulars Bill Murray, Adrien Brody and Owen Wilson, Anderson’s eighth feature became the highest grossing, live action limited US opening of all time when it opened in the US.
It has since taken $US33 million at the box office and claimed the No 1 spot in the UK in its third week of release.
The nostalgic ’30s pink confection of the title, located atop a remote, snow-covered peak, is actually based on a real hotel. And the film itself was inspired by a research tour of six Eastern European countries.
“We often found old photographs and then went to those places to see what they were like now.
“Often times that experience of seeing what has become of a place is a little depressing.”
Anderson incorporated that sense of nostalgia and faded grandeur in the Eastern European caper movie about the friendship between Gustave and Zero (Tony Revolori), the hotel lobby boy he mentors during the hotel’s golden age.
When the concierge is framed for the murder of one of his wealthy clients (Tilda Swinton), and the theft of a priceless Renaissance painting, he and Zero find themselves on the run from the police and the evil henchman (Willem Dafoe) hired by the 84-year-old dowager’s family.
“Making this movie was quite a happy experience partly because I felt like we had cast everybody in a way where they could really sink their teeth into their characters,” Anderson says. “And because we were all living in the one hotel, we had dinner together every night. The evenings were very fun.”
Ralph Fiennes in The Grand Budapest Hotel