Choreographing Feeling: “The Grand Budapest Hotel”

I finally got a chance to see Wes Anderson’s latest, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”. I must say that it made me feel like filmmaking was all arts captured and choreographed into colors and shapes before me. The perfection of the character’s movements is ironic, the look and feel of their fortunes and misfortunes is mechanical, and the dialogue between the deadpan brood is unabashedly honest and heartfelt, nevermind the lack of facial movement- nothing physical gives. The characters are marionettes at the will of circumstances…further, the choices they make and their consequences are not felt visibly, but nonetheless they take place. These consequences are the stories life blood.

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I am not sure if it is intended on any level, but classes of characters seem to move differently. M. Gustave is refined and he moves with assurance, but he fast. The Lobby Boy, Zero, moves in the same way as Mendl’s baker, Agatha, whom he loves. They move with the same active, motivated, yet partially frozen -perhaps out of obligation…thawing- determination to survive.

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The wealthy people and authorities have a more leisurely pace, a more natural set of movements, a greater range of motion. They are not obligated to do what they are told, they waltz about to live. This is part of the concept in the last lines of the film when the mature Zero explains M. Gustave: “To be frank, I think his world vanished long before he entered it, but he did sustain the illusion with remarkable grace.” The character of M. Gustave dances between the world of the wealthy and the underbelly of that world run by less fortunate worker bees. He is the outlier who manages the atmosphere of the fortunate using the spirit of obligation that propels forward the workers. This is what makes him so deeply relatable.

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