The scene in which Ludwig (Harvey Keitel) says "Good luck, kid!" before slapping Zero (Tony Revolori) across the face was shot forty-two times until Bill Murray was satisfied. Keitel actually slapped Revolori each time.
Unlike most movies, everytime a newspaper article appears, it contains a complete depiction of the events in the headline, all written by writer, producer, and director Wes Anderson.
According to writer, producer, and director Wes Anderson, the cast stayed in the same hotel, the Hotel Börse in Görlitz, Germany during principal photography. He insisted all make-up and costume fittings happen in the hotel lobby to speed up filming. The owner of the hotel appeared in this movie as an extra working the front desk of The Grand Budapest Hotel. After filming ended for the day, the crew often returned to find him at the front desk of their own hotel.
Tilda Swinton spent five hours in the make-up chair to play eighty-four-year-old dowager Madame D. "We're not usually working with a vast, Bruckheimer-type budget on my films, so often we're trying a work-around", said Wes Anderson. "But for the old-age make-up, I just said, 'let's get the most expensive people we can'."
As an example of how important attention to detail is in movies, graphic designer Annie Atkins stated in interviews that they had created a prop notebook for M. Gustave (Ralph Fiennes) to use. However, Fiennes immediately noticed that the notebook had no lines in it. After arguing that an organized and meticulous man as his character, M. Gustave, would always prefer lines to write on, the design department got him a notebook with lines. Atkins later stopped using this example when she learned that journalists had completely missed her point, and were instead writing about Fiennes' alleged diva behavior on the set.
This was the highest-grossing independent movie of 2014, and the highest-grossing limited-release movie of 2014.
In an interview, Saoirse Ronan said making the hotel's signature confection, the Courtisane au Chocolat, wasn't easy. Unlike most movies, the food plays an integral part, and required the actual making of a pastry.
The fictional Republic of Zubrowka was named after a Polish vodka liqueur named Zubrowka.
L'Air de Panache (The Air of Plume) was produced by a Parisian fragrance boutique for Wes Anderson to give to his actors and actresses.
The erotic painting hung in place of "Boy with Apple" mimics the style of the early 20th century Austrian painter, Egon Schiele. It was created by illustrator Rich Pellegrino, a regular contributor to San Francisco, California's annual "Bad Dads" exhibit of artwork inspired by the movies of writer, producer, and director Wes Anderson. The painting's official title is "Two Lesbians Masturbating".
According to "Variety", Fox Searchlight Pictures sent its specification for this movie's "proper projection" to theaters before its release. Although this movie was shot in three different aspect ratios (1.37, 1.85, and 2.35:1) to inform viewers where they are in the timeline, which alternates between 1985, 1968, and the 1930s, instructions state in large, bold red font that this movie was meant to be projected in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio (the standard). Aside from the projector setting, the directions include information on framing the picture, image brightness, audio configuration, and fader setting.
The highest-grossing movie to date of writer, producer, and director Wes Anderson's career.
The cast includes four Oscar winners: Adrien Brody, Tilda Swinton, Fisher Stevens, and F. Murray Abraham; and twelve Oscar nominees: Bill Murray, Jude Law, Jeff Goldblum, Edward Norton, Owen Wilson, Harvey Keitel, Bob Balaban, Tom Wilkinson, Willem Dafoe, Ralph Fiennes, Lucas Hedges, and Saoirse Ronan.
The soundtrack features a rare instrument; the balalaika, a three-stringed, triangular-shaped Russian folk instrument that was carefully chosen by Wes Anderson. Balalaikas come in various sizes, much like the violin, from prima to contrabass. Several dozen players from France and Russia gathered in Paris to record the soundtrack in Anderson's presence. The instrument is heard throughout the movie, but is most prominent in the second part of the official trailer (down the ski slopes) with the balalaika's most popular theme, "The Moon Shines" (svetit mesyats).
The appearance and style of F. Murray Abraham's Mr. Moustafa is based on prolific American writer and professor Harold Jaffe. Wes Anderson is an admirer of his work.
Despite the movie's title, Wes Anderson confessed in an National Public Radio interview that Prague was his main source of inspiration.
The "Boy with Apple" painting appeared in various locations throughout the hotel and is hanging behind the front desk during the young writer's (Jude Law) stay. It can also be seen on the back of the menu, when Zero (F. Murray Abraham) begins to tell his story.
Ralph Fiennes partly based his character's vocal traits on English comic actor Leonard Rossiter.
Ludwig's tattoos are a direct copy of the character of Pere Jules in L'Atalante (1934). The "MAV" tattooed on his left arm is the abbreviation of the French saying "mort aux vaches", which translates to "death to cows", "vaches" being street slang for "cops", or policemen.
The prison, which is shown twice for two short moments, is Kriebstein Castle, close to Chemnitz, Germany.
Vilmos Kovacs (Jeff Goldblum) was named after famous Hungarian Cinematographers (and friends) Vilmos Zsigmond and László Kovács.
During this movie, the concierges always address others and themselves with the title Monsieur. The only time this is not followed is during the "Secret Society of the Crossed Keys" sequence, where all of the concierges are referred to by their first names.
Alexandre Desplat's Oscar for original musical score marks the first time a comedy has won the award since Shakespeare in Love (1998), though in that year, the Academy had two categories for score (dramatic and comedy) and the first comedy score to win without two categories ever since One Hundred Men and a Girl (1937).
In the wedding scene, the snowy rock formation in the background is the Saxon Switzerland (Sächsische Schweiz) in the region of Saxony, Germany.
The 1968 sequences involving Jude Law and F. Murray Abraham were filmed first, due to the production team first accessed the vacant old Görlitz department used for the hotel lobby, and later the shuttered concert hall Stadthalle, it was originally discovered in an ideal envisioned state, shabby, crumbling, but somehow enchanting in the ruins. The art team re-dressed the entire area to simulate the hotel in the 1930s. The drop ceiling was removed to reveal the original three-floor area, but was CG-augmented to six floors.
Dame Angela Lansbury was originally cast as Madame D. She had to drop out due to scheduling conflicts with the stage production of "Driving Miss Daisy".
M. Ivan (Bill Murray) can be read in Hungarian as "Mi van?", which means: "What's going on?"
This movie contains several references to Dame Agatha Christie's mysteries, including naming a character Agatha. Specifically referenced is "4:50 from Paddington", a Miss Jane Marple mystery, wherein the word "tontine" is used as a clue. A body is found in a sarcophagus, and a family lawyer deals with the will of an elderly person who has died, and the family wants the money divided up.
In addition to this movie, Edward Norton appeared in Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (2014). Both movies led the 2015 Oscar nominations with nine each.
The Art Museum in which Kovacs (Jeff Goldblum) hides is the Zwinger in Dresden, Germany. It was built as an orangery, garden, and festival area.
In an interview with Stefan Zweig's biographer, Wes Anderson singles out two of Zweig's books, "Beware of Pity" and "The Post Office Girl" as ones from which this movie has elements "that were sort of storm's".
The fictional painter Johannes van Hoytl the Younger (1613-1669) was based on a combination of Hans Holbein the Younger (1497-1543) and Lucas Cranach the Elder (1472-1553).
The Grand Hotel building was majorly based on the Palace Bristol Hotel in Karlovy Vary, with a funicular and a mountain landmark of a deer statue overlooking the hotel. Other influences on the design were the Grandhotel Pupp hotel also in Karlovy Vary, and the Hotel Gellert in Budapest, Hungary. The "Grand Budapest" signage and awning framework above the main entrance, and exterior friezes, are in an Art Nouveau style.
Of the many crudities and tragedies in this movie, most were not explicitly shown on-screen. All of the scenes are off-screen, either suggested. Despite most of these scenes being off-screen, the movie was rated R, due to foul language, rather than the depiction of violence.
When old Zero and the Author sit at their dinner table, the flower vase has two flowers: a daffodil, and a sprig of rosemary. According to floriography (the symbolism of flowers), the daffodil represents chivalry, and the rosemary represents remembrance: both qualities shown by Zero in honoring his mentor and remembering his early life.
There were rumors that George Clooney made a cameo appearance during the shoot-out scene in the hotel.
When Jopling is examining Agatha's picture on his deck, the insignia of the Zig-Zag division next to the photo is of similar design of the one belonging to the Nazi S.S.
When Dmitri checks into the Grand Budapest Hotel at the start of the war, M. Chuck puts him in the "Ferdinand Suite". World War I started because of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand.
Included amongst the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider.
Jopling (Willem Dafoe) has a concealed Browning Model 1910 pistol strapped to his jacket, and a Colt M1911 pistol lying on his desk, but never uses either in the movie.
M. Gustave (Ralph Fiennes)'s prisoner number is 112, which is the emergency response number throughout most of Europe.
This is the first time writer, producer, and director Wes Anderson has used the 1.37:1 aspect ratio since Bottle Rocket (1994).
The only Best Picture Oscar nominee that year to also be nominated for Best Make-up and Hairstyling; and Best Costume Design.
"Boy With Apple" was painted by Michael Taylor, and the original sits behind a chair in Wes Anderson's London office.
Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Willem Dafoe, Waris Ahluwalia, and Jeff Goldblum appeared in The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004), also written, produced, and directed by Wes Anderson.
When M. Gustave (Ralph Fiennes) says "thank you" to Wolf (Karl Markovics) before being told of the escape plan, Wolf is sitting next to Ludwig (Harvey Keitel). Keitel played Winston "The Wolf" Wolf in Pulp Fiction (1994).
This movie has two actors and one actress who appeared in James Bond movies opposite Daniel Craig. Ralph Fiennes (Skyfall (2012)), Mathieu Amalric (Quantum of Solace (2008)), and Léa Seydoux (Spectre (2015)).
Jeff Goldblum played Deputy Kovacs. Goldblum played comedian Ernie Kovacs in Ernie Kovacs: Between the Laughter (1984).
Harvey Keitel appeared in Inglourious Basterds (2009) (though only in a voice cameo) which was also shot in the small town of Görlitz, Germany.
Tilda Swinton and Ralph Fiennes appeared in A Bigger Splash (2015) and Hail, Caesar! (2016).
Second movie with Tom Wilkinson involving the stealing of a painting. The other being RocknRolla (2008).
Léa Seydoux's movie, Blue Is the Warmest Colour (2013), referenced the painting which replaced "Boy with Apple" (Two Lesbians Masturbating).
Wes Anderson had all of his male cast members grow their head/face hair in the months leading up to production, and then they were each stylized once they arrived on set. "I think we certainly have the maximum supply of mustaches in this film," says Anderson.
The conversation shifts to Paul Mazursky films somehow which in turn leads to two fantastic Shelley Winters anecdotes. The first involves her on The Tonight Show where she asked Johnny Carson if he recalled the time they ducked into a dark room during a dinner party, and Carson apparently cuts the show quickly to commercial. The second is one of Goldblum's memories of attending a dinner at Musso & Frank's in Hollywood with Winters and Farley Granger, where "at one point she sort of lifted, leaned to one side, and loudly broke wind, and didn't say a thing about it."
Part of the prison escape sees the group jumping over sleeping prisoners at (57:44), and Wes Anderson recalls how he demonstrated the maneuver for the actors and "clipped that man's mouth and he swallowed his false tooth, so we had to get him a new tooth."
The confessional booth scene at (1:16:23) between Gustave and Serge X. (Mathieu Amalric) was shot separately, and while Wes Anderson thought both actors did great work they almost had to re-shoot Fiennes' performance as the actor was so impressed by Amalric's turn. "If I had known he was going to do it that well," said Fiennes at the time, "now I feel I need to do my part over again."
The ski chase - their James Bond moment - was made using miniature landscapes with animated skiers.
The double-ZZ symbol meant to be a riff on the Nazi's swastika was referred to on set as "the zig zags." Wes Anderson doodled "thousands" of variations during pre-production.
Willem Dafoe, Jude Law, Edward Norton, Tilda Swinton, and Tony Revolori were in many Marvel Comics-based movies. Willem played Norman Osborn/Green Goblin in Spider-Man (2002)/Spider-Man 2 (2004)/Spider-Man 3 (2007), while Jude, Edward, Tilda, and Tony were in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Also, Willem, Tilda, and Tom Wilkinson were in DC Comics-based movies. Dafoe was in Aquaman (2018), Swinton in Constantine (2005), and Wilkinson in Batman Begins (2005). Jason Schwartzman was in the Oni Press comic book-based movie Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010).
Although the hotel lobby and other parts of the hotel were shot using various actual real world locations, it is totally understandable if the audience assumes that the hotel lobby and other parts of the hotel were actually sets constructed on huge sound stages, akin to the hotel set built using most of the then-existing larger sound stages at the U.K.'s Elstree Studios, for The Shining (1980). The historic Studio Babelsburg is well-known for having large sound stages and a huge back lot, so it is easy to think everything was sound stage and back lot structures.
Goldblum prepared for the recording for the commentary by re-watching the film a few days prior, and he mentions the joy of being able to pause and fully take in all that Anderson packed into each frame. "And I read it too, I like subtitles."
Wes Anderson saw a St. Bernard in the streets of Görlitz, Saxony, Germany where they filmed, took its information down, and hired the dog for the film. The dog's owner is in the scene too which meant they weren't required to hire an animal wrangler. "I hope that's legal."
They did some research in advance while writing the film including looking into other movies featuring old European hotels.
The opening bust and the film itself are both inspired by the writings of Stefan Zweig, although the films of Ernst Lubitsch may have played a bigger role. Wes Anderson first came across one of Zweig's novels in a Parisian book store, read it for 45 minutes, and then bought it.
"Not every actor in the cinema is able to be handed paragraphs and to sculpt them and shape them," says Wes Anderson in praise of Jeff Goldblum. The actor's preparation includes numerous private recitals of the dialogue, and it's credited in part to his musical artistry.
Many of the cast and crew members stayed together in the same nearby hotel, and Anderson came to love that as a production style over the usual use of trailers and separate locations as it's both more fun and more productive.
Wes Anderson sent several of the cast/crew members robes modeled after the hotel's color scheme, and Jeff Goldblum wears it every day. "It's my favorite robe."
Wes Anderson notes that Dmitri's (Adrien Brody) walk down the hotel hall feels inspired by Brian De Palma. "We were talking earlier about Brian De Palma," he adds a beat later
A day in the life of Wes Anderson on a train: "One thing that was great, we sometimes scouted by train. We got an engine, and we went into areas where, because we were looking for places where we'd shoot shots from the train, but we also just scouted on these trains because you know the trains go places the roads don't go, and often when you're on a train you're going someplace that's a bit older, that might be a bit forgotten, and I remember we went scouting in this train engine, and we had to bring a chain saw because it snowed heavily and there were branches and things, and sometimes we had to stop the train, and our location manager Klaus had to get out and chain saw the tracks, and then we went by one place and we stopped and we got out and we went into this man's little farm shop that was in his house. We bought honey and some other handy crafts."
Wes Anderson doesn't tend to call "action" on his sets at the start of a scene, but he also doesn't fire a pistol like Sam Fuller was alleged to have done.
Jeff Goldblum suggested a dialogue change - swapping a "the" for an "an" - but was shut down by wes6 Anderson. A later instance, though, saw Goldblum suggest the addition of the word "ostensibly" to a line, and the director agreed as the argument was based in logic.
Saoirse Ronan plays Agatha, and Anderson recalls her asking what accent she should use for the character. "And I said, 'well Ralph is speaking like an English person, and Jeff is speaking like Jeff Goldblum, and Tony is speaking in the accent of Anaheim, and we have German actors who are speaking with German accents, so I guess Irish.'" Ronan replied that she's never played a character in her real accent (to that point, although she has since in 2015's Brooklyn), "so her first time is when she's playing a bakery girl from Zubrowka."
Jeff Goldblum recalls cinematographer Caleb Deschanel using "bee smoke" on the set of The Right Stuff (1983) which leads Wes Anderson to mention that Goldblum starred in two Philip Kaufman films which then sees Coppola recall his mother saving a "huge zucchini" from her garden to give to Philip Kaufman because it reminded her of a pod from his brilliant Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)