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Film / The Grand Budapest Hotel

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A 2014 comedy, written and directed by Wes Anderson and inspired by the writings of Stefan Zweig. 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" (Tom Wilkinson) relates the story of the Grand Budapest Hotel: in 1968, the Author (played as a younger man by Jude Law) took a trip to the alpine hotel, by then very much fallen on hard times. He met the owner, Mr. Zero Moustafa (F. Murray 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 (played by Tony Revolori) being trained by legendary concierge M. Gustave H. (Ralph 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 also stars Adrien Brody, Saoirse Ronan, Bill Murray and Willem Dafoe among many, many others. It has been nominated for nine Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Original Screenplay. It won four awards, for Best Production Design, Best Costume Design, Best Score, 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: Edward Norton is seen inspecting the hole an escapee made in their confinements in order to flee.
  • Awesome Mc Coolname: Zero Moustafa.
  • 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 Checkpoint 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 awaiting trial.
  • Ambiguously Bi: M. Gustave is foppish, claims, "I go to bed with all my friends", and responds to the remark, "We think you're a real straight fellow," with, "Well, I've never been accused of that before." He's never actually shown engaging in sexual activity with anyone but women, however, so the ambiguity is probably intentional.
    Gustave: I thought I was supposed to be a "fucking faggot."
    Dmitri: [beat] ...You are, but you're bisexual.
  • Amoral Attorney: Inverted. Not only is Deputy Kovacs honest, he actually refuses to act corruptly because he's an attorney. Sadly, Jopling murders him when the Desgoffe-und-Taxis discover he can't be bought.
  • 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.
    • Quite understandable, considering the entire story is that of a woman reading the Author's interpretation of a story he had heard decades before, from thirty year old memories.
  • 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 only show up in packs.
  • Ascended Fanboy:
    • After being thoroughly unimpressed with Zero's resume, 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 between 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.
  • Badass Mustache: 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.
  • Bait-and-Switch:
    • 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".
  • 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 actually a pet name for "Ludwig" (Louis).
  • Bittersweet Ending: Gustave is vindicated of any involvement in Madame D's murder and inherits a large sum of her fortune, leaving Dimitri with nothing. However, Mr. Gustave is shortly thereafter executed by a fascist death squad, leaving everything to Zero. Yet 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). Feeling he has nothing left to lose, Zero fights with the underground resistance against the fascist occupiers and becomes a local hero. After the war Zero becomes one of the richest men in Zubrowka. Then a communist government comes to power and confiscates all private property. Zero again loses everything, but in return for his cooperation (and in recognition of his war service) is allowed to keep the Grand Budapest. However the hotel languishes, as its opulent style goes against prevailing political tastes. Zero grows old and lonely, barely keeping the crumbling edifice afloat in memory of his wife and child, with whom he spent at least one happy year at the hotel. Zero eventually dies and the hotel is demolished. Yet the story of the Grand Budapest does live on, immortalized by the Author — his book was apparently so successful that not only was he buried in Zubrowka, but people come from far and wide to hang hotel keys on his grave. Note that very little of this is actually depicted in the film, with it mostly derived from a few lines and newspapers which briefly appear on screen.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: The scar-faced inmate who likes the mush Gustave makes. He lets him and his mates escape when his cellmate tries to call the guards on them.
  • 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.
  • Disney Villain Death: Jopling is pushed by Zero down a cliff and plummet 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.
  • Distinguished Gentleman's Pipe: The Author.
  • 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.
  • Downer Ending: Gustave is vindicated of any involvement in Madame D's murder and inherits a large sum of her fortune, leaving Dimitri with nothing (though he escapes). However, the hotel falls on hard times, Gustave is shot by enemy soldiers after defending Zero yet again, and Zero grows old and lonely after Agatha and his infant son succumb to a fatal disease. The story of the Grand Budapest does live on long after the building is demolished however, immortalized by the Author — his book was apparently so successful that not only was he buried in Zubrowka, but people come from far and wide to hang hotel keys on his grave.
  • The Dragon: Jopling is this to Dimitri.
  • 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 60's.
  • Evil Is Petty: While Mr. Gustave is set to inherit "Boy With Apple" (said to be a very expensive work of art), Dmitri is still the heir to almost the entirety of his mother's vast estate. Dmitri's attempt to keep this single painting out of the hands of Mr. Gustave is the basis for the entire movie.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin:
  • Excessive Evil Eyeshadow: Rare Male Example with Jopling.
  • 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.
  • Fingore: Kovacs's fingers are severed when Jopling slams a door on them.
  • First-Name Basis: Both Gustave and Serge are only known 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 only be indicative of a lack of known last name. The Society of 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. Given how pretty they are, can we blame them?
  • 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's 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.
  • 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.
  • 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, Kovacs is being pulled back into the building and Killed Offscreen by Jopling.
  • Idiot Ball: Deputy Kovacs realises, 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.
  • Instant Dogend: M. Jean.
  • 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.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Gustave. The moment that best demonstrates this is the scene that takes place after Gustave's jail break. After Zero forgets the l'Air de Panache, Gustave launches into a fairly politically incorrect rant out of frustration; when he learns, however, that Zero is a refugee who lost his family and friends to execution or exile because of war, he immediately takes back everything he said, calls himself out on his own selfishness and insensitivity, refuses to accept Zero's Jerk Justifications and apologises sincerely while telling Zero he's proud of him. It's a touching moment, and marks a turning point in their relationship from a typical Vernian master-and-servant duo to True Companions.
  • 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.
  • Kick the Dog: When Jopling defenestrates Kovacs's cat in front of him, a couple of hours before murdering Kovacs himself.
  • Killed Offscreen:
    • Madame D, whose death drives the plot forward.
    • Kovacs, Serge's sister, Agatha and Gustave.
  • Ladykiller in Love: Gustave has some shades of this with Madame D: he had "relationships" with several of the older, richer women who visited the hotel, but he abandons his tryst with one of them to go to Lutz (a place which he apparently hates) in order to pay his respects to her.
  • Likes Older Women: M. Gustave: specifically, blonde, shallow, needy, vain, and insecure, all very much like him. Sadly, he never manages to become old.
  • Literal Cliffhanger: 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 Mendl's delivery van.
  • Lost in Transmission: Surprisingly averted when Gustave calls the Society of Crossed Keys for emergency assistance. Despite being relayed via telephone through no less 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; it is a given that they would execute any request to the letter.
  • Low-Speed Chase: Many example, many taking place inside the Grand Budapest, perhaps justified by the decorum and elegance it imposes imposed.
    • 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 Kovecs also happens entirely at normal speed, with Kovecs 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.
  • 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 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: A late part of the movie involves the Society of Crossed Keys, a clandestine international network of hotel concierges, which provides help to Gustave (who is a member himself) 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.
  • My Hero, Zero: Zero Moustafa, the First-Person Peripheral Narrator.
  • 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's logo.
  • Nazi Nobleman: Dmitri is associated with Zubrowka's "Zig-Zag" fascist movement.
  • 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 the said stay, he meets hotel owner Zero Moustafa, and hears his story of how he moved from lobby boy to the proprietor in 1932.
  • Nice to the Waiter: Jopling, of all people, is shown tipping a gas station attendant who refuels his motorcycle.
  • 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 and the Hotel Bristol Palace.
  • 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 only known 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?"
  • 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.
  • Obviously Evil: Dmitri and Jopling couldn't look more villainous if they tried.
  • 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.
  • Overly Long Gag:
    • Gustave makes a formal request of the Society of 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?
  • Painting the Medium: The film repeatedly switches between various Aspect Ratios depending on the current time period being showcased; scenes taking place in the 1930's are in 4:3, scenes set in the 1980's are in 16:9, and scenes set in the 1960's are in 21:9.
  • Pet the Dog: Gustave comes across mostly as an asshole when we first meet him. Our first indication that he's a good guy is when he emotionally defends Zero from arrest.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Dmitri calls Gustave a "fucking faggot" when accusing him of seducing his mother. When Gustave points out how the accusations conflict, Dmitri covers by claiming that Gustave's bisexual. He also calls him a "fruit", which had similar connotations.
  • 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.
  • Quick Nip: Jopling always keeps a small bottle of whisky in his breast pocket, next to a gun.
  • The Quiet One: The Big Guy prisoner, who Gustave befriends, doesn't talk much.
  • Rags to Riches: Zero, who goes from a poor, uneducated immigrant to the richest man in Zubrowka. However, it eventually circles back, as he ends up spending his entire fortune to keep the hotel open.
  • Really Gets Around: Gustave, albeit usually with blonde older women. He does, however, state he might blow the black market profit of the sale of "Boy with Apple" on whisky and hookers.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Inspector Henckels. When the soldiers rough up Gustave and Zero on the train, Henckels hears them out and tells Gustave to contact him if there is any further trouble with Zero's immigration status. He handles the deaths and crimes that take place very seriously, doesn't allow Jopling to hang around a crime scene (and makes it quite clear he knows he's somehow responsible for Kovacs's murder) and makes finding the murderer of Serge's sister top priority. At the end of the movie, when a gunfight breaks out between Dmitri (who is trying to shoot Gustave) and the other soldiers staying in the hotel, he orders a full ceasefire and tries to find out who started everything. Upon learning that Dmitri began it but was shooting at a man already wanted for various other crimes including the alleged murder of Dmitri's mother, Henckels orders everyone to stay where they're at until he's had a chance to get to the bottom of things. And when Agatha finds a letter hidden with the painting, he hears her out and reads it in front of everybody, clearing Gustave's name and getting him a fortune.
  • 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), Bosnia, Serbia, Croatia, 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.
  • Self-Made Orphan: Dmitri is guilty of this, and the murder is what sets off the plot.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Kovacs' very precise manner of speaking.
  • Shoot the Dog: Zero pushes Jopling off the cliff, an action that is a surprising act of violence for him, but allows him to save Gustave and resolve that whole plotline.
  • Shout-Out: Many.
  • Silk Hiding Steel: Agatha, the quiet put-on baker and real genius of Mendl's, runs through hails of gunfire and risks getting decapitated by an angry fascist to be with the boy she loves (and help out the man lording over the boy she loves).
  • 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 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 the most hilarious 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 amount of miniature models for exteriors. The sled chase scene is the most obvious example.
  • Tattooed Crook: Harvey Keitel's convict character, Ludwig, who plots the escape with his shirt off.
  • Time-Shifted Actor: The Author and Zero.
  • Token Good Teammate: Gustave is this among the group of escaped prisoners, being the only one who is not a criminal and who is wrongfully accused.
  • 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 unsubtitled 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.
  • 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 Title Drop: The title of the film appears on the namesake book held by the young woman in the opening.
  • 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.
  • 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 escape.


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