Mrs. T and I just watched The Grand Budapest Hotel for the second time. When I first saw it last year, I’d read nothing by Stefan Zweig. Now I’ve read the standard biography of Zweig and several of his books—including Beware of Pity and The World of Yesterday, on which Wes Anderson specifically drew in writing the film—and I’ve also seen Max Ophüls’ screen version of Letter from an Unknown Woman. Anderson’s film makes quite a different impression when you understand how knowingly it relects its source material (though you can certainly enjoy and appreciate it without being aware of the nature of Zweig’s contribution). Not only is it a supremely effective homage flecked with touches of parody, but it’s also a masterpiece of total design, all the way down to the period typefaces chosen for the titles and subtitles.
I think that Jean Renoir would have understood it—and loved it.
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A featurette about how The Grand Budapest Hotel was designed: