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Trailer Deconstruction: Wes Anderson’s ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’

by Rodrigo Perez
October 18, 2013 1:47 PM
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Characters (in order of appearance of title card in the trailer)

Ralph Fiennes as M. Gustave
The rapscallion hotel concierge of “The Grand Budapest Hotel” who winds up in all kinds of trouble in the film for various trespasses and offenses.

F. Murray Abraham as Mr. Moustafa
The older version of Zero Moustafa who narrates the trailer and shows up in flashbacks (or should we call them flash forwards?).

Mathieu Amalric as Serge
It’s unclear what Serge's role is exactly, but we do see him pulling Dmitri away from Gustave, so they appear to be a colleagues of some sort.

Adrien Brody as Dmitri
Clearly the son, or a kin of Tilda Swinton’s Madame D., he’s mad as hell that he didn’t get “Boy With Apple” as an inheritance.

Willem Dafoe as Jopling
He appears to be Dmitri’s muscle with a penchant for wearing lots of rings.

Jeff Goldblum as Kovacs
While it seems he might be an art auctioneer, perhaps he’s a lawyer as he’s reading off the item’s in Madame H.’s last will and testament.

Harvey Keitel as Ludwig
A prison inmate who presumably befriends M. Gustave after he himself is incarcerated (there are shots of the two of them trying to make a prison break). A rather hilarious touch: his prison tattoos seem to have been designed by Eric Anderson (Wes’ older brother and go-to illustrator) and thus have an amusingly inappropriate child-like quality to them.

Jude Law as Young Writer
Not a lot to go on here, but he has the same glasses and moustache as Tom Wilkinson’s author and distinctly looks like a younger version of that character. Jude Law has said in interviews he does only appear in flashbacks.

Bill Murray as M. Ivan
He is the concierge of the five-star Hotel Excelsior Palace. A rival hotel perhaps? Maybe not, he does assist Zero and Gustave during their flight from the authorities according to the trailer.

Edward Norton as Henckels
He is the main police authority figure in the film. While the movie is set in Hungary, the various look and feel around his character, including the Gabelmeister’s Peak pub in the background of his title card is very Germanic.

Saoirse Ronan as Agatha
She is Zero’s love interest, is a baker, acts as a “fence” and has a birthmark which looks distinctly like Mexico on her face.

Jason Schwartzman as M. Jean
He’s a modern, or more modern-day hotel concierge as we can tell by his aspect ratio. Note that familiar looking painting above his head. It appears he works in the Grand Budapest Hotel of the future.

Tilda Swinton as Madame D.
Clearly smitten with the lothario, elderly-loving Monsieur Gustave, she’s the aristocratic biddy that owns “Boy With Apple.” Also, she is dead.

Owen Wilson as M. Chuck
He appears to be the replacement concierge for The Grand Budapest Hotel after Gustave gets in all sorts of trouble.

Tom Wilkinson as Author
There’s not much to go on here other than our earlier posit, but he is the only aspect ratio shot in 1.85.1.

Tony Revolori as Zero
The junior lobby boy in-training under the strict command of M. Gustave.

Léa Seydoux as Clotilde
It’s probably worth pointing out that the only actor to appear on the poster but not in the trailer is Léa Seydoux, who is playing a character called Clotilde. Our original thought was she might be playing an older version of Saoirse Ronan’s character but considering the poster has them listed under two different names, that’s obviously not it. "I do work in a bakery and I have a relationship with the lead character," she said in an interview earlier this year. So she works alongside Ronan’s character then and maybe fucks the ever-horny Gustave?

Extra credit: Check out Larry Pine, the actor who played convincing Charlie Rose-like TV figure Peter Bradley from “The Royal Tenenbaums” (also the star of many commercials that Anderson has directed), standing next to Owen Wilson’s character. If you watch the trailer closely, you can tell Pine’s character is the hotel manager. He also replaces Gustave With Owen Wilson’s M. Chuck.

Also, the painting that gives everyone pause midway through the trailer? It’s by Egon Schiele. Anderson obviously has a penchant for amusing paintings in his films, be it the amusing and regal portraits of family members (the Blume family in “Rushmore,” Royal’s grandmother the “saint” in ‘Tenenbaums,’ “Boy With Apple” in ‘Budapest’), or the random freaky paintings of Miguel Calderon featured in Eli Cash’s apartment.

 - Rodrigo Perez with helpful assistance from Cory Everett. Special thanks to Larry Wright for his helpful aspect ratio confirmation in this piece. Follow him here on Twitter or visit his cool “film, photography, technology and fun” site Refocused Media.

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  • Skinarcik | March 16, 2014 11:23 AMReply

    The replacement painting is by Rich Pellegrino.

  • Sophie | February 20, 2014 8:05 PMReply

    I don't think the painting's by Schiele, I think it's a pastiche?

  • Pan | January 2, 2014 2:10 AMReply

    All the uniforms pictured are base on those of the WWI Austro-Hungarian army, hence the inspector's Germanic appearance.

  • Zach | October 22, 2013 9:48 PMReply

    For quick run get-aways you can't forget Dignan's last stand in BOTTLE ROCKET.

  • Jake Yenor | October 19, 2013 6:05 PMReply

    Didn't realize any of that, wow.

    - Jake Yenor

  • MAX FISHER | October 19, 2013 11:50 AMReply

    norton looks like sacha baron cohen in HUGO

    kietel looks like the scary guy in PANS LABYRINTH

  • DG | October 19, 2013 2:51 AMReply

    Bottle Rocket and Rushmore are his best movies. Him and Owen are the shit together, they need to write a script together. I'll probably see this but it looks pretty whatever

  • DG | October 19, 2013 2:58 AM

    ^ another^ script

  • nate | October 18, 2013 10:43 PMReply

    thank you for this delightful write up. what good fun. you guys are terrific. keep it up.

  • Big Chap | October 18, 2013 8:29 PMReply

    Stupid article because nobody cares about Wes Anderson, maybe some nerds but really nobody actually cares about him. Grand Budapest Hotel at best will make 150 million dollars at the box office, simply because nobody actually cares about his films.

  • dan | October 19, 2013 10:52 AM

    Not as stupid as your comment.

  • Posts | October 18, 2013 6:50 PMReply

    Great detective work, 90% of this is spot on.

  • f90 | October 18, 2013 6:46 PMReply

    The different aspect ratio thing was done in "More American Graffiti."

  • Brian | October 18, 2013 6:38 PMReply

    Mathieu Amalric could be playing a priest based on the garb but more importantly because the light illuminating his face has a pattern very similar to the mesh in confession rooms. There's often a bit of Catholicism running in Anderson's movies.

  • john morton | October 18, 2013 4:47 PMReply

    Presumably Tilda Swinton is playing the part Angela Lansbury was earmarked to take?

  • Alan B | October 20, 2013 3:27 PM

    She was actually doing 'Driving Miss Daisy' on stage with James Earl Jones, so "wonder" away, but that's still the reason in reality.

  • Pilar | October 19, 2013 5:53 PM

    Scheduling conflict? just how much work has Lansbury got these days? Wonder if she pulled out because the script didnt turn out to her liking?

  • Karen | October 18, 2013 6:59 PM

    Yes, sadly Angela Lansbury had to dropped out because of the scheduling conflict after the filming was pushed back for almost 2 months. Kinda cool that Anderson replaced her with a much younger Swinton instead of recasting with some other 70+ actress.
    Hopefully she'll get a chance to work with him in a future.

  • tristan eldritch | October 18, 2013 3:17 PMReply

    Always feel like this guy should be making dollhouses, or pop-up books, or elaborate wedding cakes, instead of movies, but it looks like fun.

  • hank | October 18, 2013 2:48 PMReply

    what does it mean exactly when you say, "way back in the day when the “Mean Streets” director co-signed onto his then little-cared-for debut “Bottle Rocket” ... Scorsese's only involvement was saying that he admired the movie after it's release, as far as I know.

  • Pilar | October 19, 2013 5:54 PM

    That's all it takes. Scorsese is all things cinema.

  • cirkusfolk | October 18, 2013 8:03 PM

    Yeah, Marty didn't have anything to do with the making of that film. It was more of Robert Redford for allowing it into Sundance and James L Brooks for putting up some money.

  • cirkusfolk | October 18, 2013 2:47 PMReply

    Let me go on record to say Moonrise Kingdom was the first Wes Anderson film I did not like. At first, I was disappointed with The Darjeeling Limited, but have gone on to appreciate it enough to buy the Criterion edition. With that being said, this film looks too closely connected to Moonrise to give my expectations pause. At first I was excited at the prospect of Wes working with his biggest cast yet, and the idea of the film centering around a hotel. But after watching that trailer, I'm afraid the large cast might hurt the film. It appears as though everyone is playing too over the top, stylized characters that would never appear in real life. An such as Jude Law said, most of these actors parts will probably be too little to truely enjoy. Second, as with Moonrise, the period piece setting (which means no pop songs) worried me, as does the set decoration. Ever since Bottle Rocket, Wes' sets have been more and more detailed with every film. Most of the time it works, like in the Life Aquatic but lately, as with Moonrise, it draws too much attention to itself and is too cute or cutes sake. Basically what I'm trying to say is that Wes' films are almost becoming a parody of themselves in the same way Terrence Malicls last two films were. I hope I am wrong because this piece got me more excited for the film than the trailer did. I'm definatley not one to tell Wes he needs to make different types of movies. Actually it's the opposite. Grand Budapest might be too much of a change for me. I like the old font, slo motion and pop songs.

  • P-DUB | October 20, 2013 1:39 PM

    Also, Pilar,

    People are allowed to not like certain films in master filmmaker's canons. I think Kubrick is one of the greatest to ever live and made several of the greatest films we'll ever imagine, but that doesn't mean I have to like Lolita as much as the others. Fear & Desire and Killer's Kiss are also amateur efforts that only vaguely hint at who he would become. I have loved every single Malick film up until this year when To The Wonder did nothing for me. I'll still be there opening weekend for his next release. Alfred Hitchcock, Martin Scorsese, Spielberg, Kurosawa, Lean, etc.., all have some turkeys in their filmography (obviously to varying degrees and taste) but that doesn't mean that I can't love them still.

    Blanket comments like the one you made are one of major problems with fandom today. Just because you love one thing doesn't mean you can't like something else they made. People are allowed to be disappointed.

  • P-DUB | October 20, 2013 1:33 PM

    Doesn't this seem like a huge over-reaction to a trailer? That's a pretty hardcore breakdown about what you don't like about a film you haven't seen a single full scene from.

    And the lack of pop songs concerns you yet you're complaint is that Anderson has become a parody of himself for doing the same thing?

    And you think the sets in this film go too far and call attention to themselves yet you have no complaints about the Tenenbaum house or the various ships, outfits, sets, and creatures from Life Aquatic? Or the entirety of Fantastic Mr. Fox?

    I think you should probably go into the film with an open mind. I don't take any issue with you not liking Moonrise Kingdom, just that you seem so ready to not like this new film from a filmmaker you generally love based solely on the trailer? Give it a shot! I like that it's a big, goofy, ensemble comedy. It seems more overtly slapsticky and plain fun. I think that seems like something Anderson would do very well and I'm excited.

  • Pilar | October 19, 2013 5:57 PM

    You had me until Malick. To not like a Malick film, is like someone not liking a Kubrick film. You're entitled to your opinion but it doesn't mean anything lol. The same certainly cannot be said about Anderson.

  • brou | October 18, 2013 2:12 PMReply

    I don't think that just because the hotel is the "grand budapest" it should imply that the film takes place in hungary. I mean there's "schloss lutz" on the gate, schloss means catsle in german.
    By the way I'm particularly curious of the way the nazi-like invasion will be treated... Using some kind of -let's put it like that- parodic nazi visuals (the "ZZ" stuff) could be a risky choice. Maybe there will be some narrative device with the different timelines, with different unreliable narrators who fantasize and enjolivate the actual story.

  • ferencv | October 18, 2013 4:03 PM

    It looks like it's set in the Swiss Alps + only one character, Jeff Goldblum's has a Hungarian name (Kovacs).

  • RP | October 18, 2013 2:30 PM

    Put it this way. I fully agree with all your posits (piece was getting long enough as it is, but Wes did bring up Hungary in past interviews). It could easily be set in a Wes Anderson-y Eastern European country that has elements of Hungary and Germany and yes the ZZ stuff is very Nazi-like and with the backdrop of WWII on the horizon "the ever changing continent" I'm sure that's meant to be alluded to in his fanciful way.

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