The Grand Budapest Hotel Blu-ray Review
The Grand Budapest Hotel has seen grander times. In 1985, it was merely a building that a select few would recall. In 1968, the few guests that stayed there kept to themselves and spread out so much that the hotel seemed desolate. One of those guests isn’t a guest at all. He’s the owner, Zero Mustafa (F. Murray Abraham), who sits in the lobby without a word.
“How did you come to buy it?” asks a man credited only as The Writer (Jude Law). “I didn’t,” replies Zero. “If it generally does interest you…It would be my privilege and pleasure to tell you my story.” Flash back to 1932, the heyday of The Grand Budapest Hotel, a lush resort located in the mountains of the Republic of Zubrowska. It was at that time that Zero (Tony Revolori) worked as a lobby boy, Monsieur Gustave H. (Ralph Fiennes) was the concierge and Madame Céline Villeneuve Desgoffe und Taxis (Tilda Swinton) owned the institution.
Word comes that Madame D. has passed and she has left a valuable painting to Gustave, her lover. Her family, as expected, doesn’t take to the news (of the will, not of the death) very well, and so triggers a chase that includes prisons, slopes, assassins and cakes.
Director Wes Anderson is a wonderful filmmaker who, even when his films aren’t terribly interesting (see: THE DARJEELING LIMITED), invites the viewer to a world that is somehow both precise and chaotic. With THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL, his eighth feature film, he continues with this and other trademarks, such as pinpoint composition, eccentric (and yet not over-the-top) characters and the nostalgia factor. Somehow, even though many (if any) of us were not alive during The Grand Budapest Hotel’s prime, we wish we could revisit those gorgeous stairs. (Another familiar aspect is the cast: Anderson alumni such as Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Harvey Keitel, Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Jason Schwartzman and Owen Wilson all turn up in roles of various.)
This is not Anderson at his most creative, but he is experimenting a bit here in a few interesting ways: casting Fiennes (generally not known for his comedic work) in the lead role, departing the U.S. (which he did with DARJEELING, but the entire movie seemed based around that decision) and featuring different parts of time (accompanied by varying aspect ratios: 1.37:1 in the ‘30s, 1.85:1 in the ‘80s, 2.35:1 in the ‘60s). This is also the first film he has penned solely by himself (although the story was worked on with Hugo Guinness, who provided artwork for THE ROYAL TENNENBAUMS).
As with many Anderson films, it’s difficult to guess exactly where these characters and the story will end up. But Anderson keeps the meaning of the film there all along, and as the film goes, we get why Zero can’t commit to closing the hotel, just as Steve Zissou couldn’t let the jaguar shark that ate his friend—it was his life and he’ll be damned if he’s going to let anyone or anything truly try to take it away.
Video: 1.33:1, 1.85:1 and 2.35:1 in 1080p with MPEG-4 AVC codec. THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL looks absolutely stunning on this Blu-ray, with strong contrast, popping colors and fine details/textures that all serve the costumes, sets, Robert Yeoman’s cinematography and the film as a whole.
Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1; French DTS 5.1. Subtitles in English, Spanish and French. Likewise, the audio transfer is excellent and presents the dialogue, sound effects and Alexandre Desplat score without flaw.
Bill Murray Tours the Town (4:17): Murray offers a brief personal tour of the town in which THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL was shot.
Vignettes (9:00): There are three here, which can be viewed separately or as a whole: “Kuntsmuseum Zubrowka Lecture,” “The Society of the Crossed Keys” and “Mendl’s Secret Recipe,” all of which feature Tom Wilkinson as The Author.
Promotional Featurettes: The Making of THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL (18:08), which goes into the story, look and more; Cast (3:24), about the extensive cast of the film; Wes Anderson (3:46), on the writer/director.