behind the scenes of the grand budapest hotel

A new book details the genius of Wes Anderson’s world.

by Colin Crummy
11 February 2015, 4:30pm

The Grand Budapest Hotel is a holiday spot that even the contrarians of TripAdvisor would find hard to resist. As delicious looking as the cakes the Mendl Bakery delivers to it, the Hotel is a rich confection of creativity from the mind of director Wes Anderson. To fully comprehend the breadth of that creativity and to understand why Anderson's playful whodunit took home five awards at the BAFTAs last Sunday — winning original screenplay, music, production, costume design, hair and makeup — there's a timely behind-the-scenes book out this week to accompany the film.

The Grand Budapest Hotel is a companion book to last year's The Wes Anderson Collection, illustrated by graphic artist Max Dalton. New York magazine's film critic Matt Zoller Seitz interviews Anderson and lead actor Ralph Fiennes, there are critical essays, and the production team explain how they got inside the exacting vision of their boss.

The book notes the various sources that inspired Anderson's award-winning screenplay from author Stefan Zweig and filmmaker Ernst Lubitsch to photo chrome landscapes from turn-of-the-century Middle Europe including one of the real life GBH, Grandhotel Pupp, in the Czech spa town of Karlovy Vary. The Grand Budapest Hotel was not shot there, but in the German town of Gorlitz, also the setting for The Book Thief and Inglourious Basterds. The hotel was also built in miniature to give it a more figurative than realistic feeling, a step-by-step process documented in the book.

Attention to detail is as strong as you'd expect throughout. There's a thumbnail sketch of how Anderson saw an early sequence of the 1968 version of the hotel, complete with one guest in each room: a hiker with a Saint Bernard dog, an old lady playing solitaire, a lone teacher painting in the colonnade.

The book builds up to a fascinating glimpse of an entire world created. There are storyboards, costume sketches and production shots galore. The art department designed the insignia of the dreaded ZigZag division from a simple Anderson sketch as well as stamps, travel visas and newspapers for the imagined nation Zubrowka. To get a sense of just how detailed that all was, try this: Anderson wrote all the stories for the front page of the newspaper, even the ones you'd never be able to read on screen.

The Wes Anderson Collection: The Grand Budapest Hotel by Matt Zoller Seitz. Published by Abrams Books is out now.


Text Colin Crummy
Grand Budapest Hotel © 2014 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All rights reserved.

Wes Anderson
Grand Budapest Hotel
Matt Zoller Seitz
The Wes Anderson Collection: The Grand Budapest Hotel