Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
10 Films Booed at Cannes That Every Cinephile Should See 10 Films Booed at Cannes That Every Cinephile Should See 5 Things You Didn't Know About Lars von Trier, Who's Going Back to Work 5 Things You Didn't Know About Lars von Trier, Who's Going Back to Work The Eerie Connection Between 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' and 'Tomorrowland' The Eerie Connection Between 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' and 'Tomorrowland' Digging Into the Cannes Lineup: More Vet Auteurs and Women, No Netflix Digging Into the Cannes Lineup: More Vet Auteurs and Women, No Netflix Ryan Gosling in Talks for 'Blade Runner' Sequel, Damien Chazelle's 'La La Land' Ryan Gosling in Talks for 'Blade Runner' Sequel, Damien Chazelle's 'La La Land' You Can Now Read Over 200,000 Leaked Sony Emails and Documents You Can Now Read Over 200,000 Leaked Sony Emails and Documents Watch: The New 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' Trailer Has Landed Watch: The New 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' Trailer Has Landed Watch the Teaser Trailer for Quentin Tarantino's 'Hateful Eight' Watch the Teaser Trailer for Quentin Tarantino's 'Hateful Eight' Watch: This Exclusive Tribeca Trailer Promises a Vérité Southern Gothic in Malick Vein Watch: This Exclusive Tribeca Trailer Promises a Vérité Southern Gothic in Malick Vein 7 Things to Learn from 'Mad Men' Creator Matthew Weiner About Compelling Storytelling (EXCLUSIVE VIDEO) 7 Things to Learn from 'Mad Men' Creator Matthew Weiner About Compelling Storytelling (EXCLUSIVE VIDEO) 'Queen of Earth,' Starring a Gloriously Unhinged Elisabeth Moss, Goes to IFC 'Queen of Earth,' Starring a Gloriously Unhinged Elisabeth Moss, Goes to IFC Cary Fukunaga Takes Over Long-Stalled 'The Alienist' as TV Series Cary Fukunaga Takes Over Long-Stalled 'The Alienist' as TV Series Why the Istanbul Film Festival Cancelled Its 2015 Competition Why the Istanbul Film Festival Cancelled Its 2015 Competition The Dramatic Story Behind Satyajit Ray's 50s Masterpiece 'The Apu Trilogy' (Exclusive) The Dramatic Story Behind Satyajit Ray's 50s Masterpiece 'The Apu Trilogy' (Exclusive) MTV Movie Awards 2015: The Highs, the Lows and the Winners List (Videos) MTV Movie Awards 2015: The Highs, the Lows and the Winners List (Videos) Arthouse Audit: 'Ex Machina' Leads Four Big Openers, Kristen Stewart Opens 'Clouds of Sils Maria' Arthouse Audit: 'Ex Machina' Leads Four Big Openers, Kristen Stewart Opens 'Clouds of Sils Maria' The New Ladder: Anatomy of Indie Women's Picture 'Farah Goes Bang' The New Ladder: Anatomy of Indie Women's Picture 'Farah Goes Bang' Here's the First Image of Emma Stone and Joaquin Phoenix in Woody Allen's 'Irrational Man' Here's the First Image of Emma Stone and Joaquin Phoenix in Woody Allen's 'Irrational Man' Kristen Stewart Explains How She Held Her Own with Juliette Binoche in 'Sils Maria'--and Won a Cesar Kristen Stewart Explains How She Held Her Own with Juliette Binoche in 'Sils Maria'--and Won a Cesar Scientists Choose the 10 Best Sci-Fi Movies Ever Scientists Choose the 10 Best Sci-Fi Movies Ever

Production Designer Adam Stockhausen Talks 'The Grand Budapest Hotel' (VIDEOS)

Photo of Bill Desowitz By Bill Desowitz | Thompson on Hollywood March 7, 2014 at 3:53PM

Imagine going from "12 Years a Slave" to "The Grand Budapest Hotel." That's exactly what happened to production designer Adam Stockhausen, who was able to convey beauty in the darkest of dramas, but when it came to Wes Anderson's witty caper, there was no holding back the Czech Republic eye candy: a pink hotel, a dollop of yellow butter cream, and the sugary Mendl's bakery.
1
Grand Budapest Hotel

Imagine going from "12 Years a Slave" to "The Grand Budapest Hotel." That's exactly what happened to production designer Adam Stockhausen, who was able to convey beauty in the darkest of dramas, but when it came to Wes Anderson's witty caper, there was no holding back the Czech Republic eye candy: a pink hotel with a dollop of yellow butter cream, and the sugary Mendl's bakery.

But then Stockhausen is no stranger to Anderson, having previously worked on "Moonrise Kingdom" and "The Darjeeling Limited." However, when he read the script for "The Grand Budapest Hotel" while still making Steve McQueen's eventual Oscar winner in New Orleans, he immediately embraced the opportunity to partake in the Eastern European opulence.

"It's bright, vivid, and poppy but not electric," Stockhausen offers.

'The Grand Budapest Hotel'
'The Grand Budapest Hotel'

In tone, the movie's a cross between Max Ophuls' melancholy "The Earrings of Madame de" and the screwball antics of "The Wrong Box." Ralph Fiennes plays Gustave H., a legendary concierge at a famous European hotel between the wars, and it involves the theft and recovery of a priceless Renaissance painting. But beneath the glossy surface lies the darker theme of trying to hold onto a bygone civilized ethos amid war, vulgarity, and degradation

In fact, the end credits read: "Inspired by the Writings of Stefan Zweig," a contemporary of Sigmund Freud and Arthur Schnitzler ("La Ronde" and "Dream Story"), whose "Letter from an Unknown Woman" was adapted by Ophuls.

The production designer jumped right into the project by studying the Photochrome postcard collection at the Library of Congress, and once he joined the production in Gorlitz, the easternmost town in Germany, with its Renaissance period buildings, he was hooked.

"There are no ATMs or delis that are allowed to put signs up so it's very pristine and gorgeous, and they could not have been more welcoming to us," the New York-bred Stockhausen suggests. "We settled in there and found nooks and crannies to build sets."

Indeed, you can instantly tell the handmade quality of an Anderson film, which bears the stamp of his stop-motion work with its stunning patchwork of designs, colors, fabrics, and decor. And Anderson discovered the little spa town of Karlovy Vary, which was perfect for the hotel up on the hill and the beautiful pastel town below.

'The Grand Budapest Hotel'
'The Grand Budapest Hotel'

The Grand Budapest was modeled after many Eastern European hotels, but the closest they came was the Grand Hotel Pupp in Karlovy Vary. "We used bits and pieces cobbled together," Stockhausen adds. "We were going for the onstage/backstage quality to the hotel that carries over to the rest of the film, including Mendl's bakery."

And speaking of handmade, Stockhausen made use of several miniatures (the hotel, the hillside, the funicular, the town, the Alpine observatory, the bobsled run and ski chase). "It's fun -- it has the right spirit and is appropriate to the time period. The opening sequence is comprised of several miniatures in different scales patched together later. You can tell they're there but I hope they're not distracting."

Then there was the old prison that they found in Saxony for a bleaker sequence. It now is empty and awaiting museum status. "They allowed us to work there and they even let us put a hole in the floor for the start of the escape.

Of the storytelling, Stockhausen adds, "One of my favorite things about the film is the introduction of the narrator (Tom Wilkinson). At first, it feels like a framing device, but then when you return to it at the end of the film it has this wallop."

And it ties in thematically with its "La Ronde"-like merry-go-round quality that's not only Ophulsian but also indicative of Anderson's reverence for old-fashioned virtues and romantic pursuits. For Stockhausen, it was certainly an innervating experience to return to this bygone era.


This article is related to: The Grand Budapest Hotel, Wes Anderson, production design, Immersed In Movies, Interviews , Thompson on Hollywood, Video


E-Mail Updates