When I first came across the trailer for Wes Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel, it felt as if this movie had been made specifically for me. From the 1930's European setting and the Art Nouveau styling, to the political backdrop and the often dark sense of humour, it tapped on so many of those things I adore deeply that it was the first time in a long while a trailer had made me truly eager for a movie.
It'd seen one or two of Wes Anderson's movies before and had really enjoyed their quirkiness, and I loved the looks of the others I still had to watch, so when the trailer was released, I certainly wasn't a devotee of the writer/director. So it was really The Grand Budapest Hotel that truly drew me to his work, and has since made me seek out all of his movies (I think I've now watched them all, including his first, Bottle Rocket).
When I first started to play about with illustration again, after a decade or so of working in web design, one of the first pieces I created was an Art Nouveau-inspired portrait and lettering poster of M. Gustave; it looked okay, but certainly the face was more than a little off.
This time around, a year or two later, this piece has worked out so much better. I love how the red, purples and gold work together (certainly not a popular colour combo as they can be a little clashing), and Gustave H's face actually looks good!
One of the aspects I love most about the character of Gustave H. is his artful swearing (I can't stop letting out a giggle any time he expertly swears), so I had to include one of these outbursts for the card. And I think the whole "Oh, fuck it" line makes for the perfect card for those occasions where you or a friend is pissed off and just want to give up on a hopeless situation.
And I think this line, and the rest of the quote it forms ("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."), really encapsulates the overall feeling of the movie. From the outside, it's a humorous romp, with cheery pastel colours and wonderfully quirky characters, but inside it's the tale of the end of an old world, a world of intelligence, hope and open-mindedness, one about to be extinguished with the coming first of Fascism and then Communism.
This bittersweetness, something that is so ever-present in the work by Stefan Zweig (the primary inspiration for The Grand Budapest Hotel), makes the film so much more emotional than I expected going into the film theatre.
And if you love this movie even half as much as I do, please seek out Zweig's works. After being a bit of a lost author for so long, his work is finally receiving the kudos it deserves. I've been reading through his works recently and have loved every minute.