Follow TV Tropes


Film / The Grand Budapest Hotel

Go To

"You see, there are still faint glimmers of civilization left in this barbaric slaughterhouse that was once known as humanity. Indeed, that's what we provide in our own modest, humble, insignificant... oh, fuck it."
M. Gustave H.

The Grand Budapest Hotel is a 2014 comedy film released written and directed by Wes Anderson, inspired by the writings of Stefan Zweig. The film stars Jude Law, F. Murray Abraham, Ralph Fiennes, Tony Revolori, Tom Wilkinson, Adrien Brody, Saoirse Ronan, Bill Murray and Willem Dafoe among many, many others. Alexandre Desplat composed the soundtrack.

The film takes place in Zubrowka, a Mitteleuropean nation that was "once the seat of an empire" but is now recovering from war, poverty and rule by first fascists and then communists. "The Author" (Wilkinson) relates the story of the Grand Budapest Hotel: in 1968, the Author (played as a younger man by Law) took a trip to the alpine hotel, by then very much fallen on hard times. He met the owner, Mr. Zero Moustafa (Abraham), who told him the story of how the hotel fell into his possession and why he maintains it despite its clear decline.

Mr. Moustafa lived through the glory days of 1932, when he was a young immigrant lobby boy (Revolori) being trained by legendary concierge M. Gustave H. (Fiennes). The hotel is glorious, the clientele is rich and the concierge keeps everything twirling. But danger strikes in the midst of this paradise when M. Gustave is accused... of murder! What follows is a madcap caper of art, war, secrecy and, of course, true love.

The film was nominated for nine Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay. It ended up winning four of those awards: Best Production Design, Best Costume Design, Best Score (for Desplat) and Best Makeup and Hairstyling. It also won BAFTAs for those four categories, as well as Best Original Screenplay.

The Grand Budapest Hotel provides examples of:

  • Actor Allusion:
  • Affably Evil: The inmates Gustave becomes friends with. Gustave beats the stuffing out of one of them, Pinky, for questioning his virility, which earns him their respect. Later, they come to regard him as one of their own, and incorporate him into their plan to escape from Check-Point 19. After they escape, Ludwig wishes him and Zero the best, right before they kill an innocent man and hijack his car to escape.
  • The Alcatraz: Check-Point 19, where Gustave is held while awaiting trial. It has nearly a hundred guards, broad-gauge iron bars on every door, vent and window, and a 325-foot drop into a moat of crocodiles.
  • Anachronism Stew: In a few ways, ranging from props (e.g., Henckels using an electric megaphone) to people using terms that would not be seen for decades (e.g., "candy-ass"), to historical references: after Putting on the Reich all through the war and suggesting that Commie Land immediately follows, the film informs us that Agatha and her baby died after the war from the "Prussian grippe," a clear Expy of The Spanish Flu which killed millions right after World War One. This most likely reflects the multiple layers of disconnect that come from a hazy recollection of the 30s relayed during the 60s, recorded in memoir in the 80s, and then read in the present day of the 2010s.
    • During the second train scene, what appears to be a Sd.Kfz.251/22 half-track is shown among the fascist soldiers stopping the train. This vehicle wouldn't be put into service until late 1944, long after the early 1930s setting of the scene.
  • And Starring: During the end credits: "Introducing Tony Revolori as Zero."
  • Animal Motif: Henckels and the rest of the police force have a wolf motif shown with the wolf on their hats and Henckels' wolf fur coat. They show up only in packs.
  • Arc Symbol: Two crossed keys, a symbol of the aptly named "Society of the Crossed Keys," are seen at several points throughout the movie.
  • Ascended Fanboy:
    • After being thoroughly unimpressed with Zero's résumé, Gustave asks him why he wants to be a lobby boy. Without a hint of sarcasm, Zero responds "Who wouldn't at the Grand Budapest, sir? It's an institution." He's hired on the spot.
    • Arguably, he was this when he met the Author as well — his very first words to him were that he had read his work before, and admired it. That was the prelude to him becoming the protagonist of the Author's next book.
  • Aspect Ratio Switch: The film changes among three different ratios for the time periods: 1.85:1 for scenes set in 1985 to the present day; 2.35:1 for the 1960s; and 1.375:1 for the 1930s. This final ratio is known as the Academy ratio, as it was set as the standard ratio for shooting film by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 1932, the year the 30s section of the film begins in.
  • Awkward Poetry Reading: M. Gustave has a habit of spouting poetry at odd moments, which eventually rubs off on Zero. The poems (and his delivery) aren't necessarily bad, but he sure picks some awkward moments to recite them, like when his entire hotel staff is waiting to eat, or when he's clinging to the side of an icy cliff while an assassin tries to kill him.
  • Bait-and-Switch:
    • When Zero first visits Check-Point 19, he knocks on a massive gate, after which several rumbling and clanking sounds are heard. The he hears a whistle, and the camera pans over to a much smaller door, which he enters.
    • When the film makes us momentarily think that Jopling has murdered Agatha, but it's actually the less significant character of Serge's sister.
    • After killing Jopling and before making their escape, Gustave has them pause for a moment of silence for "a loyal servant killed violently in the conduct of his duties." At first it seems like a bit of black comedy as a memorial to the man who just tried to kill them but then Zero chimes in with a short "Goodbye Serge."
  • Bathos: The early scene in 1985 of the writer monologing in front of a camera gets interrupted by a boy shooting with a toy gun at him.
  • Battle Discretion Shot: We don't see how Günther takes out the guards during the jailbreak as the camera focuses on the faces of the four inmates.
  • Because You Were Nice to Me:
    • Gustave gives one of his fellow inmates a bowl of porridge on the day he and his cellmates make their plan to escape. Later, during the actual escape, that same inmate prevents his own cellmate from ratting them out to the guards, allowing Gustave and co. to carry on.
    • Also, Inspector Henckels treats Gustave with great respect and also helps him clear up Zero's immigration status since Gustave helped take care of him when he was a child.
    • This is arguably why Madame D left her entire fortune to Gustave, since he was the only person to ever listen to her.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Zero is a nice young man... which doesn't stop him from throwing Jopling over a cliff to save Gustave, and seemingly having no qualms whatsoever afterwards. Also, stealing the painting is his idea in the first place.
  • Bilingual Bonus:
    • Ever heard of Zubrowka? It's a Polish grass vodka brand.
    • The same applies for the German names: Nebelsbad literally means "fog bath." Lutz (possibly a play on the real Polish town of Łódź) is either a pet name for "Ludwig" (Louis) or a surname.
    • To those who know how "Kovacs" is properly pronounced - it is "Kovatch" ("cs" is pronounced as "tch" in Hungarian), actually a common last name for Central and Southern Europe meaning "smith"and "tch" being a very typical ending of the last names there in general - hearing it uttered all the time as "Kovax" is an additional small source of laughs. Possible Fridge Brilliance here is that this may be how the student reading the Author's book pronounces it (provided she herself hails from outside the region).
  • Bittersweet Ending: So much of the film is in flashback, and much has been lost simply because so many years have passed since the story's events. To wit: Gustave is vindicated of any involvement in Madame D's murder and inherits a large sum of her fortune, including the Grand Budapest, leaving Dimitri with nothing. However, Mr. Gustave is shortly thereafter executed by a fascist death squad, leaving everything to Zero. Soon afterwards Zero's wife and infant child both die from an infectious disease (one which moreover, Zero bitterly remarks, would later become easily treatable). Zero lives at the Grand Budapest while history marches on and the hotel diminishes, decays and is eventually demolished after his death. However, thanks to the Author's book, the dream of the Grand Budapest at the height of its elegance lives on. Pilgrims come from far and wide to hang hotel keys on the Author's grave.
  • Black-and-Gray Morality:
    • Gustave and Zero make off with the painting even though it doesn't technically belong to Gustave until legal confirmation of the will, and Gustave sometimes comes off as a bit of a jerk. Dmitri, however, is an evil little shit, and Jopling is horrifying.
    • Inspector Henckels is a member of the fascist Zig-Zag Party, but is easily the most sane and rational character in the film. In a literal case, he wears grey, while the rest of the Zig-Zag Party - including those who kill M. Gustave at the end of the film - all wear black and are much more violent and hostile.
  • Black Comedy Animal Cruelty: Kovacs's cat getting thrown out the window is played for fun. Also the way its bagged remains are handled.
  • Bond Villain Stupidity: Jopling dramatically taking his time to kick free a cliffside somebody is clinging to, which gives Zero the chance to shove him off of it from behind. He also had an excellent opportunity to kill Gustave and Zero as well as Serge in the monastery, but leaves after accomplishing the last.
    • Dmitri's similarly drawn-out pursuit of Agatha. He even manages to easily corner her in an elevator and not-so-surreptitiously confirm she's holding "Boy with Apple," yet allows her to exit and waits for a few seconds before following, presumably for the opportunity to menacingly stroll after her for effect. This allows her to escape when rounding a corner puts her out of sight for a moment, during which she breaks into a sprint and is halfway up the hall before he realizes it.
  • Born in the Wrong Century: The movie is crammed with a cast of characters who act and feel this way.
    • Gustave, in the '30s, acts as though he lives in the Victorian era, presumably when the hotel first opened, which as the old Zero points out in the '60s scenes was a time period he never actually lived through.
    • Madame D.'s dress sense pegs her as an artifact of the Georgian period even further back.
    • Zero in the '60s keeps the hotel exactly as it was when he was first hired in the '30s, despite the fact that society's tastes have moved on and he's rapidly losing money.
  • Camp: Gustave is exceedingly camp, calls everyone (including men) "darling" and covers himself with an extremely potent perfume.
  • Car Cushion: When Zero and Agatha fall off the balcony of the hotel, they crash through the canvas roof of Mendl's delivery van, landing in a pile of pastry boxes.
  • Catchphrase: Gustave refers to everyone as "darling" when he's being friendly.
  • Comically Missing the Point: The monks arranging M. Gustave's secret meeting directly ask him to his face if he is M. Gustave of the Grand Budapest Hotel, when they're supposed to be hiding his presence.
  • The Comically Serious: Essentially everyone in the entire movie is this.
  • Commie Land: The grim, faded Zubrowka seen in the 1960s is heavily implied to be part of the Warsaw Pact. Mr. Moustafa notes that the once sumptuous steam baths in the Grand Budapest could not have been maintained because they were "too decadent for current tastes." The Author later notes that Mr. Moustafa handed over his great fortune to the local commissar to stop the hotel falling into government hands as "communal property"... and it still failed to stop it being demolished, though probably only after his death.
  • Concealment Equals Cover: When Dmitri shoots Gustave and Zero at the hotel during the film's climax, our heroes are protected by boxes of pastries they carry in front of them, wherein the bullets get stuck.
  • Creator Thumbprint: Mocked by Wes Anderson himself. An article reviewing his films noticed that he has a habit of killing dogs. In this film, however, he kills a cat. It was the attorney's cat, and it was thrown out the window.
  • Credits Gag: Along with the title of the replacement painting, near the end of the credits, a guy in the bottom-right corner is doing That Russian Squat Dance.
  • Dark Is Evil:
    • Dmitri and Jopling wear particularly dark clothing.
    • The inspectors at the end of the film, The ones who shoot Gustave, wear black, compared to the grey of Henckels and his force throughout the film.
  • Dastardly Whiplash: Dmitri's moustache, dress sense and personality all evoke this.
  • Decapitation Presentation: When Inspector Henckels pulls Serge sister's head out of the basket.
  • Decoy Protagonist: Zig-Zagged, at first the Author seems to be the main character in the Bookends of the film, but Gustave H. acts as the lead main character for the majority of the film and was the lead in older Zero's tale from 1932 (also the actor who plays Gustave receives top billing). However, it is Zero (both old and young) who is the real main protagonist, especially after revealing Gustave was killed by the firing squad in defense of Zero just after Gustave managed to clear his name of murder and inherited a fortune in the monochrome epilogue to Zero's tale and the inherited fortune and the titular hotel ownership goes to Zero.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: After Gustave is sent to prison, he mentions that he got into a fight with some of the inmates. After he won, they immediately became loyal friends.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Zero and Gustave chase after Jopling on a sled, but it's not until they hit top speed that they realise they don't know what to do if they catch him, considering he's a homicidal psychopath. Gustave suggests they stop, but Zero points out that he can barely steer the sled.
  • Disney Villain Death: Jopling is pushed by Zero down a cliff and plummets to his death.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Gustave steals a priceless painting that (rightfully) belongs to him. Dmitri responds by framing him for murder — though he hasn't even realized the painting was stolen, it's out of spite for Gustave even being on the testament.
  • Door Judo: Agatha, fallen out a window and hanging for dear life. Zero, one floor too high, needs to go down to the correct room in order to pull her in. The correct room, unfortunately locked and with a "Do Not Disturb" sign. Zero, yielding to politeness and knocking desperately, before less politely trying the doorknob, and finally charging the door. The guest, opening the door in answer to Zero's knock, in time for Zero to charge right through and out the window, to hang beside Agatha.
  • Dramedy: The movie cycles between comedy and drama at points, most notably in the end. After figuring out and foiling the plot, Gustave ends up rich and happy and Zero is successful and married; this quickly turns awful when Gustave is executed by fascist militants, Agatha and her child later die from an easily-curable disease, and Zero inherits the hotel only for it to turn obsolete.
  • Dull Surprise: Kovacs has a remarkably subdued reaction to seeing his cat thrown out the window.
  • Elevator Escape: Played with. Agatha runs into an elevator while being pursued by Dmitri, but he casually asks the operator to hold for him. When they arrive, he allows her to exit before calmly following at a leisurely pace, presumably for the chance to appear dramatically menacing. Of course, this means he is several seconds behind in rounding a corner, by which time he sees she had broken into a sprint and made it far down the hall.
  • End of an Age: The film is set immediately before the outbreak of World War II (or a close fictional analogue) in Europe. The war, and the end of Gustave's reign as concierge, signal the end of the hotel's glory days of glamour, which is Doomed by Canon by the early scenes in the hotel's sad state in the 60s.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin:
  • Exposed to the Elements:
    • Gustave and Zero spend quite a lot of time running around in the snow-covered rooftops/country-side/mountains. While they'll fully dressed, they're notably lacking in coats, gloves or really anything to keep the warmth in — Zero in particular has short sleeves and no shoes in one scene! — but the cold never really seems to bother them too much. This really comes into play when Zero and Gustave chase after Jopling in a very high-speed chase down snowy mountains.
    • After exiting the art museum and walking through the snow-covered street, Jopling doesn't bother to put his shoes back on.
  • Failed a Spot Check: It really takes far too long for Dmitri to realize that "Boy with Apple" is missing... which is odd, considering you'd think he'd want to get it under lock and key as soon as possible. Played for Laughs given that his sisters even ask him why he's only just noticing its absence now.
  • Fictional Currency: Klubecks, the currency in Zubrowka.
  • Fingore: Kovacs' fingers are severed when Jopling slams a door on them.
  • First-Name Basis: Both Gustave and Serge are known only by their first names and even in the most official context only the first letters of their surnames are given, H. and X. respectively, and X. may be indicative only of a lack of known last name. The Society of the Crossed Keys also all go by "Monsieur [first name]."
  • First-Person Peripheral Narrator: Gustave is the main character, but the story is told by Zero.
  • Flower Motifs: Downplayed, bordering on Freeze-Frame Bonus. In the scene where grown-up Zero and the Author sit down to have a long dinner, there are two flowers in a vase - a daffodil, and a twig of rosemary. In floriography, daffodils symbolize chivalry (a guiding principle of Gustave's life), and rosemary symbolizes remembrance (Zero lives more in memory than in the present these days).
  • Food Porn: Everyone in the story is obsessed with Mendl's Courtesan au Chocolats (even Jopling who otherwise seems to have no shred of humanity left in him is able to immediately recognise its taste). Given how pretty they are, can we blame them?
  • Foregone Conclusion: Zero, decades later, at first refuses to talk about Agatha and then says how he breaks into tears whenever he speaks of her, so we know right away something bad is going to happen to her. The film briefly leads us to believe she was murdered by Jopling, but she survives the adventure only to die a short time afterwards of 'Prussian Grippe'.
  • Fourth-Date Marriage: Zero proposes to Agatha on their third date and she accepts.
  • Framing Device: The great bulk of the story takes place in 1932, but is framed by three more layers of narrative. See Nested Story for details.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus:
    • A funny one revealing the fate of Dmitri with a newspaper article shown for only a couple of beats. Really scrupulous viewers will notice that the second paragraph repeats the contents of the first verbatim.
    • Similarly, Zero's whole backstory is contained in the columns of the three newspapers shown in quick succession during his introduction (including his beginnings as a lobby boy following his exodus from his war-torn homeland, his apprenticeship with Gustave H. and the latter's death, the loss of his wife and child, his involvement in the Lutz Underground resistance movement during the occupation, his legal battle to claim the Desgoffe-und-Taxis fortune bequeathed to him by Gustave, his distinctions as a war hero and successful businessman, and his settlement with the new collectivist government to retain the private ownership of the Grand Budapest Hotel).
    • These and other clippings, such as the report of Deputy Kovacs' death, are reproduced in full in a booklet included in The Criterion Collection's 2020 DVD/Blu-Ray release.
  • Genteel Interbellum Setting: Much of the film is set in the 1930s and comes with the hallmarks of that era.
  • Great Escape: Gustave and his cellmates pull one off successfully.
  • Hand Stomp: A variant. When Gustave is Hanging by the Fingers from the cliff, Jopling stomps in front of his hands to make the ice crack.
  • Hanging by the Fingers: Twice.
    • Gustave hanging from the cliff and being saved by Zero.
    • Agatha and Zero hanging from below the balcony at the Grand Budapest Hotel. Their fall gets cushioned by the Mendl's delivery van.
  • Hero of Another Story: The Student's tribute to the Author's gravestone (which is covered in other similar tributes in the form of keys), and the Author's narration makes it clear that the story of the Grand Budapest Hotel was just one of many, many stories the Author uncovered.
  • Hidden Weapons: Dmitri has a small pistol holstered to his leg which he uses to shoot at Gustave and Zero in the movie's climax.
  • His Name Is...: Serge is strangled to death right as Gustave is losing his shit demanding to know what the hell is going on.
  • Homage: As pointed out by this video, the sequence where Kovacs is pursued by Jopling is nearly a shot-for-shot recreation of a very similar sequence from Hitchcock's Torn Curtain, down to the way both characters turn before exiting the museum. Unfortunately, Kovacs isn't as lucky as Paul Newman's character.
  • Hope Spot: When Kovacs is chased across the Kunstmuseum by Jopling, he opens a door and sees a bicycle standing outside, ready to be used for his escape. However, before he can do so, he is pulled back into the building and Killed Offscreen by Jopling.
  • Idiot Ball: Deputy Kovacs realizes, while on a public tram, that he is being pursued by an assassin, so he gets off at the next stop and wanders into a near-empty art museum all alone.
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: The shootout scene screams this, with not a single person firing a gun hitting anything.
  • Incredibly Obvious Tail: Jopling, who has a very distinctive appearance, closely follows Kovacs' streetcar on a motorcycle, and is immediately visible from the window. Due to Jopling's brutality, this may be a deliberate threat.
  • Institutional Apparel: The distinctive prisoner outfit with grey and white horizontal stripes.
  • Jail Bake: When Gustave is recruited into helping break out his cellmates (and himself), Zero gets Agatha to bake tools into her pastries and sends to Gustave. The dainty pastries are such works of art that the prison warden can't bring himself to destroy them to check for contraband (although it's obvious from their shape that they contain something). However, because they're so small, Agatha can only fit miniaturized digging tools inside of them.
  • Karma Houdini Warranty: It's never explained precisely what happened to Dmitri, who vanishes without a trace after losing his fortune to Gustave, but the older Zero's statement that the circumstances of Madame D.'s murder were common knowledge by the '60s suggests he was at least exposed if nothing else.
  • Killed Offscreen:
    • Madame D., whose death drives the plot forward.
    • Kovacs, Serge's sister, Agatha and Gustave.
  • Light Is Good: In contrast to the black uniforms of the Zig-Zag Party, pastel hues abound in scenes of peace, plenty, and chivalry: the Hotel itself is a gradient of pink and white, the interiors are similarly brightly lit (gentle chandelier light for the guests, stark lighting in the servants' quarters) and Agatha's bakery is also a haven of light.
  • Lost in Transmission: Surprisingly averted when Gustave calls the Society of the Crossed Keys for emergency assistance. Despite being relayed via telephone through no fewer than five concierges, with each conversation lasting mere seconds, Gustave's message is conveyed perfectly to its final recipient. Justified since the message is being relayed by the staff of the best hotels in Europe; one could expect that they would execute any request to the letter.
  • Low-Speed Chase: Several examples, many taking place inside the Grand Budapest, perhaps justified by the decorum and elegance it imposes.
    • Most notably, the film's climax involves an extended sequence in which Agatha retrieves the painting, is pursued by Dmitri, and both are pursued by Zero and Gustave, nearly all at walking speed.
    • Jopling's pursuit of Kovacs also happens entirely at normal speed, with Kovacs first in a streetcar and later walking at normal pace through a museum.
  • MacGuffin: The painting "Boy with Apple." It's first and last seen in the Grand Budapest in the '60s, unnoticed and hanging crooked.
  • Manly Facial Hair: Gustave manages the seemingly impossible feat of a mustache that is both badass and elegant. In imitation a young Zero takes to penciling on a fake mustache. By the end he has grown a real one.
  • Mathematician's Answer: Among the requirements for being Monsieur Gustave's personal guest is being blonde.
    Young Author: Why blonde?
    Mr. Moustafa: Because they all were.
  • Meaningful Name: Zero, who has "zero" experience, "zero" education, "zero" family and a lowly social station. As an undocumented immigrant, he's also a non-person in the eyes of the government. Word of God states it's also a Shout-Out to Zero Mostel.
  • Menacing Museum: Deputy Kovacs realizes he's being tailed by Jopling and tries to lose him in the Kunstmuseum. Unfortunately, he happened to try this around closing time, meaning that the museum is almost deserted and also worryingly dark, resulting in a very tense pursuit through the shadows. It ends with Kovacs losing all the fingers on one hand, then being beaten to death and stuffed into a sarcophagus.
  • Menacing Stroll: Dmitri attempts this while following Agatha, but when he rounds a corner, he realizes that she started running as soon as she was out of sight, forcing him to start frantically sprinting after her.
  • Milkman Conspiracy: The Society of the Crossed Keys, a clandestine international network of hotel concierges. Based on the examples of their influence given by M. Gustave (himself a member), they normally serve to arrange private appointments and secure highly contested reservations on extremely short notice. After escaping from prison in the latter half of the movie, Gustave calls upon their services to discover where Serge, Madame D.'s murder witness, is hiding. Likely based on the real-life Society of the Golden Keys, a network of concierges that exists within Great Britain and the Commonwealth. Even the emblem and lapel pins are nearly identical, two crossed gold keys.
  • Mishmash Museum: The Kunstmuseum has a very eclectic collection consisting of Old Master paintings interspersed with Egyptian sarcophagi, Greek statues, and medieval plate armour.
  • Mountaintop Healthcare: Nebelsbad is apparently set in an alpine region, and the Grand Budapest Hotel itself is so high up that accessing it on foot requires a funicular. Given that the place is a spa town, one of the many attractions on offer at the hotel are the steam baths, which are used as a therapeutic treatment among other things; as such, when the Author attends the hotel to recover from his bout of neurasthenia, he's indulging in some hydrotherapy when he meets Zero for the first time.
  • My Card: Jopling hand his business card to Serge's sister as well as Inspector Henckels.
  • Mysterious Past:
    • Gustave, who, as it turns out, shares Zero's experience in having... well, zero, in addition to having been a lobby boy himself.
    • Zero, as well, up until Gustave snaps at him for not bringing the Panache perfume after his escape — it's revealed all his family were executed in a war, and those who survived were forced to flee.
  • A Nazi by Any Other Name: The Fascists in the film are the "Zig-Zag Party," not the Nazis, though that's the role they fill given the period the film is set in. Their emblem is two "Z"s in the shape of lightning bolts, resembling a reverse of the Nazi SS' logo.
  • Nested Story: The plot goes about four levels deep: the film opens with a present-day student reading the memoirs of a late author; said author writes his memoir in 1985; said memoirs cover The Author's stay at the Grand Budapest in 1968; during said stay, he meets hotel owner Zero Moustafa, and hears his story of how he moved from lobby boy to the proprietor in 1932.
  • Never Going Back to Prison: When cornered by Henckels and his men, Gustave tells Zero he would rather jump off the cliff than go back to prison.
  • Newspaper-Thin Disguise: Jopling hides behind a newspaper in the lobby before tailing Kovacs across town.
  • No Bisexuals: Explicitly subverted:
    Dmitri: If I learn you ever once laid a finger on my mother's body, living or dead, I swear to God I'll cut your throat, you hear me?
    Gustave: I thought I was supposed to be a fucking f***.
    Dmitri: [pause] You are, but you're bisexual.
  • No Communities Were Harmed: The Grand Budapest Hotel resort was inspired by the Czech spa town of Karlovy Vary (Karlsbad in German), more precisely the deer statue atop a rocky peak, the Hotel Bristol Palace and Grandhotel Pupp.
  • No Name Given: The character played by Tom Wilkinson and (as a younger man) by Jude Law is never given a name. He's listed as "Author" both on the credits and his own monument, and the credits and subtitles call his younger self "Young Writer." The young woman in the beginning is also known only as "Student" in the credits.
  • Noodle Incident: Apparently Serge's sister being murdered isn't the first time he's suffered a tragic death in the family; when he tells Gustave and Zero of his loss, Gustave half-sympathetically, half-sarcastically asks "Who did they kill this time?"
  • No Swastikas: The Fascists use a Double Z symbol in place of the Swastika.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Everyone. Wes Anderson clearly doesn't care what accent the characters have, and all the actors keep their native dialect regardless of whom they are playing. American actors sound American, Brits sound British, and so on. Even people within the same family have wildly differing accents; Madame D. is played by Tilda Swinton and sounds British, while her son Dmitri is played by Adrien Brody and sounds American. Even Saoirse Ronan is finally able to use her native Irish accent.
  • Off with His Head!: Happens to the poor sister of Serge at Jopling's hands.
  • Ominous Pipe Organ: Can be heard during Dmitri's pursuit of Agatha.
  • Only Cares About Inheritance: When Madame Degoffe und Taxis dies, the reading of her will is attended by dozens of distant relatives she barely interacted with, all hoping she left a payout for them.
  • Overly Long Gag:
    • Gustave makes a formal request of the Society of the Crossed Keys, a network of other concierges at other classy hotels. There follows a long sequence of each member being interrupted to take a phone call and then calling the next member to pass on the information.
    • The monks repeatedly confirming Gustave's identity with the exact same line. Even Gustave gets tired of it.
      Monk: Are you Monsieur Gustave of the Grand Budapest Hotel in Nebelsbad?
  • Posthumous Character: All of the characters are posthumous taken from the very first scene; the tale comes from the now-deceased Author, who first heard it when he was young and Zero an old man.
  • Poverty Food: Played for laughs when imprisoned Gustave wheels a cart around the cell block in the morning, offering mush to inmates.
  • Precision F-Strike: Gustave, an impeccably proper gentleman, is prone to sudden outbursts of incongruous and colorful cursing.
  • Protagonist-Centered Morality: Played for Laughs — Gustave is disgusted at Dmitri and Jopling's crimes, but is amusingly unperturbed by his cellmates killing people to escape from prison.
  • Punk Rock: The first shot we see is a mohawked punk rock fellow having a smoke in front of a graveyard. Later, we get a good look at the young woman reading the Author's book — her jacket is covering up what appears to be a punk rock shirt and she has several buttons pinned to her, each of which seem advertise local bands.note 
  • Purple Is Powerful: The Grand Budapest Hotel, one of the finest grand hotels in Europe, has purple as the predominant color for its staff, especially Monsieur Gustave.
  • Putting on the Reich: Zubrowka has its own homegrown "Zig-Zag" fascist movement which both Dmitri and Jopling are members of. Its emblem is a double Z in a style reminiscent of a mirror-image version of the "sig rune" emblem of the SS, and towards the end soldiers are seen wearing black uniforms reminiscent of SS ones.
  • Refuge in Audacity:
    • Zero and Gustave use a humorously pornographic painting (the credits title it "Two Lesbians Masturbating") to replace "Boy with Apple," yet Dmitri doesn't notice until much later.
    • When Henckels accuses Monsieur Gustave of murder, Gustave's reaction is to turn and start running away. The police actually look at each other for a beat, as if mentally asking "Are you serious?" before chasing after him.
  • Rewatch Bonus: Knowing beforehand that the Narrator's son is about to shoot at him with a toy gun, you can see the Writer's expression change moments before the son is revealed, when, presumably, the son first enters the room and aims the gun at him.
    • The "Boy with Apple" painting can be seen in the 1968 Grand Budapest Hotel (hanging behind the Concierge desk) before it becomes relevant to the plot. Also, Monsieur Jean has Crossed Keys lapel pins, and a similar design on a placard beneath his desk.
  • Right Under Their Noses: The Great Escape leads right through the guard bunk room where we see the inmates jump over and crawl under the beds of the sleeping guards.
  • Ruritania: With its mix of German, Hungarian and Slavic naming elements, Catholicism, fallen nobility and rising fascists, Zubrowka is strongly reminiscent of the former lands of the Austro-Hungarian Empire between the wars. Zubrowka takes cues from a lot of countries, including Austria (due to the aforementioned Austro-Hungarian bent), Hungary (ditto), Czechoslovakia, Germany (it was largely filmed in Saxony), Poland (the city name Lutz being a shout out to Łódź, and Zubrowka actually being a Polish beverage), Switzerland (the yodeling at the beginning of the film is a Swiss tune), Yugoslavia, Bulgaria and Russia (much of the film's music, particularly the one playing over the credits, is actually Russian).
  • Scenery Porn: As with all Wes Anderson films, the costuming and scenery is all highly stylized and beautiful.
  • Secret Test of Character: Gustave meets with Agatha and buys her gifts to incite jealousy from Zero. Agatha acknowledges that his jealousy is warranted as she agrees that Gustave is flirting with her. At this point, Gustave gracefully backs off and expresses approval of their relationship, making it clear he's seeing if she's loyal to Zero.
  • Shoe Shine, Mister?: Gustave gives Zero money to go light up a candle at the local church for Madame D., buy him a Courtesan au chocolat from Mendl’s and "if there's any money left, give it to the crippled shoe shine boy", cut to said crippled shoe shine boy at work doing a Spit Shine.
  • Shout-Out: Many.
  • Sinister Shiv: The "throat-slitter" made by M. Gustave's cellmates. It is used both to slice up the Mendl's pastries smuggled to them, and for its named purpose during the Great Escape.
  • Skewed Priorities: Apparently the Society of the Crossed Keys will abandon whatever they're doing to help a fellow member, up to mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and assisting evacuation during a fire.
  • Sophisticated as Hell: The juxtaposition of aristocratic dignity and civility with human brutality and obscenity runs throughout the entire movie. Characters will be speaking in the most polite, clipped, sophisticated language to each other, before suddenly and momentarily lapsing into vulgarity.
  • Stock Scream: Jopling gives the "Howie Long" variant after Zero pushes him off a cliff.
  • Stylistic Suck:
    • Gustave's long, terrible poems. The scene always mercifully cuts away before they're finished.
    • The shoot out in the hotel has a few very choppy cuts at the beginning.
    • The film uses a large number of miniature models for exteriors. The sled chase scene is the most obvious example.
  • Time-Shifted Actor: The Author and Zero.
  • Tragic Keepsake: The reason Zero held on to the Grand Budapest is he kept it for Agatha, as they were both happy there for a little while. He also keeps her porcelain pendant on his lapel, and has "Boy with Apple" and Courtesan au Chocolat as integral aspects of the hotel in its later years.
  • Translation Convention: Most of the on-screen text (signs, newspapers, documents, etc.) is in English (with several instances of German), so is the dialogue (with some instances of subtitled French and one instance of un-subtitled German), leading to the conclusion that English stands in for Zubrowkan language for the viewers' convenience.
  • Truth in Television: There is an association of concierges. It's called Les Clefs d'Or — Golden Keys. Their symbol is a pair of crossed keys.
  • Uncertain Doom: It doesn't bode well for Henckels when the death squad tear up the pass written for Zero at the end.
    • A Freeze-Frame Bonus in a newspaper article reveals that he became Secretary General of the Government-in-Exile of Zubrowka during the war, and went on to award Zero a medal for his services to his country of adoption afterwards.
  • Unconventional Vehicle Chase: Jopling escapes the monastery on skis, and Zero and Gustave pursue him on a dogless dogsled down the mountain.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Dmitri becomes increasingly aggressive in his pursuit for "Boy with Apple" and the evidence shows that he killed his mother after Jopling dies.
  • Visual Pun: When Dmitri throws a drawing of two women having sex on top of a bust statue of a man, thus destroying the drawing. Works on more than one level.
  • Visual Title Drop: The title of the film appears on the namesake book held by the young woman in the opening.
  • Wham Line: One of the last lines of the movie. "In the end, they shot him."
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • Lampshaded by a news article in the end stating that Dmitri has disappeared, with a subtitle, "Where's Dmitri?"note 
    • It's also never explained what happened to Ludwig and the other escaped convicts. Were they caught in Henckels' blockade, or did they get away?
      • Look closely at one of the news articles. There are three people with Zero as rebels, dressed exactly as convicts were during the escape.
  • What Is Going On?: In the climax, a very spontaneous gunfight suddenly breaks out in the titular hotel, started by Dmitri noticing Gustave and Zero and opening fire on them, followed by other random patrons on different balconies to start shooting for no particular reason, up until Inspector Henckels and his entourage storm in and demand to know what the heck is happening:
    Henckels: Cease fire! Stop it! Who's shooting who?!
    Dmitri: That's Gustave H., the escaped murderer and art thief! I've got him cornered!
    M. Gustave: That's Dmitri Desgoffe und Taxis! He's responsible for the killing of Deputy Kovacs, Serge X and his club-footed sister, plus his own mother!
    Henckels: Nobody move, everybody's under arrest!

The Author: "Is it [referring to the hotel] simply your last connection to that vanished world–his [referring to Gustave] world, if you will?"
Zero: "His world? No, I don't think so. You see, we shared a vocation; it wouldn't have been necessary. No, the hotel I keep for Agatha. We were happy here, for a little while. To be frank, I think his world had vanished long before he ever entered it. But I will say, he certainly sustained the illusion with a marvelous grace."


Video Example(s):


Door Judo

Zero takes a run to break down a hotel room door but then the door gets opened by a guest and Zero runs right out the window other end.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / DoorJudo

Media sources: