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Nostalgia For The Abbatoir

August 4, 2014

Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel is a complex and a complicated film. In Anderson’s stylized middle Europe, floating between the First and Second World Wars, a dark world is visualized through nostalgic hues, feigning the lightness of a continental confection or a Viennese operetta.

The bright color palette, fanciful sets, and set pieces define the world of our eccentric protagonist (a very fine Ralph Fiennes) actively bedding the fading grand dames of a Europe evidently in decline while negotiating a treacherous landscape. The acrid stench of necrophilia hangs over Anderson’s lustrous surfaces. Once upon a time…or so it goes.

Edward Norton leads a contingent of proto-Prussian soldiers prone to Keystone Kop buffoonery even as they presage the rising tide of Nazism that will engulf Europe and the world in total war.

Adrien Brody and his henchman Willem Dafoe, dressed in “Gestapo-chic” black leather, wend their way through Anderson’s narrative, casting ever darkening shadows on the proceedings.

Does The Grand Budapest Hotel replace history with nostalgia? And what are the implications of such a worldview? Is this some filmic mix of laughter and forgetfulness? What directorial voice is at work here?

So many questions, so little time. I think Anderson’s film is an interesting companion piece to Renoir’s Rules Of The Game. Consider the directorial voice in each picture.

Also consider that two of the leading voice’s working in American film at present are sons of Texas: Wes Anderson and Richard Linklater. What should we make of that?



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  1. Lev permalink

    Those Texans are irrepressible!


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