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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

Budapest 1985

Budapest Hotel

Plot Overview

An author (Tom Wilkinson) narrates for us that writers are not fonts of inspiration whose imaginations gush forth material nonstop, but they must glean their material from the world around them. By way of illustration he gives an example of a story that unfolded for him as a young writer (Jude Law) in a central European country going by its old name Zubrowka, where in 1985 he met the digni­fied owner Zero Moustafa (F. Murray Abraham) of The Grand Budapest Hotel. Moustafa graciously told him his story of how he rose from lowly Lobby Boy Zero (Tony Revolori) in 1932, under the tutelage of legendary concierge M. Gustave H. (Ralph Fiennes), to his current status. “The incidents that follow are presented as they were actually presented to me,” he assures us as the movie proceeds with the tale.

Cinematically it's presented as humor. The GBH in its heyday was unsurpassed elegance, but the lettering we see on the labeling of door, desks or what­not is functional to the extreme but garish; also the same later at Check Point 19 – Criminal-Inter­ment Camp, at a monastery, and at a ski resort. I suppose writing must be geared to the medium, and if you were writing to inform occupants of a building where they are, you'd want to use clear large letters.

The poetry in the movie is long to the extreme, mercifully curtailed for lunch or what­ever. Poetry should be geared for a laid back reading when one has time to let his mind soar. You might want to skip the reading before partaking of your institutional lunch.

The travel papers need to be in order, because when they close the frontier, on 19 Oct., you don't want them to provoke an argument when you're stopped by the authorities. Other­wise you may end up in the hoosegow.

A last will and testament you want to be comprehensive even if it takes a shoe box to hold it all. The executor will have time to go through all of it, and you won't get another shot.

Coded instructions of where to find the valuables should be written tiny so they can be hidden from other would-be heirs. Important confidential papers should be clearly labeled.

In the prison at one point M. Gustave is given a Bible to swear on, clearly labeled HOLY BIBLE, concerning the disap­pearance of a master­piece painting called “Boy With Apple,” whether he knows where it is. Writing a Bible version after 1933 that one could swear on presents its own unique difficulty. In 1933 the Sinaitic Manuscript was published that Con­stan­tin Tischen­dorf had misap­propri­ated from St. Catherine's Monastery by forging the Abbot's signature to donate it to the Russian Czar. You could still swear on, say, the older KJV with no problem, but that Sinaitic Manuscript is the second most important one used in virtually all the more modern trans­lations. I don't see how swearing on one of them could add to one's credibility concerning missing valuables.

The whole story is interesting, as far as it goes, but I don't see it as much of a didactic aid to inspire writers, but it does demonstrate the nuts and bolts of all kinds of writing, but in a humorous way


Occurring between the two world wars as it does, in a European setting (“in this barbaric slaughter­house that was once known as humanity”), GBH evokes the terror of the Nazis, partly tongue in cheek, e.g. the SS become the ZZ. As for the old name of the country they are in being Zubrowka, doesn't ring any bells, but let's spell it back­wards and see what we get: Akworbuz. That sure helps! How­ever, if we're talking old and can be content with similar­ities, doesn't Akworbuz resemble Ashkenaz, great grand­son of Noah, (Gen. 10:1-3)?

Researcher Bodie Hodge writes, “Ashkenaz is the medieval Hebrew name for Germany” (151). Hodge goes on to say of Ashkenaz's uncles, “some of Meshech … mingled with others …, mixed with Magog …, gave rise to the Hungarians. … Some of the famous Hungarians were Attila and Buda (Bleda), brothers. Attila the Hun was ruler of the Hunnic Empire, and his brother Buda founded Budapest” (158). Further­more, “the old name of Moscow was Meshech or Meshera” (174). Allowing for artistic license and normal variations in names, I'd say Zubrowka with a Budapest Hotel provides an adequate war­like back­drop, but you almost have to be an historian to appreciate it, or not if we just remember Nazi atrocities.

Hodge goes on to say, “Meshech were involved in some migrations and mixing as well. Those discussed in Psalm 120:5 were clearly the Meshechians remaining nearer to Israel as they had mixed with the descendants of Kedar (who is the son of Ishmael per Genesis 25:13)” (174). Psalm 120 is the first of the Psalms of Degrees, to be recited ascending to the temple, and it deals with deliverance “from a deceitful tongue” (Psalm 120:2-4) in the event of a peaceful person cohabi­ting with a war­like one (Psalm 120:6-7). This is the main focus of the story, M. Gustave doing his utmost—beyond the call of duty—to make his over-the-hill lady guests comfort­able, so that when one of them croaks and remembers him in her will, her conniving relatives contest it to a murderous extreme.

Production Values

“The Grand Budapest Hotel” (2014) was directed by Wes Anderson who also, with Hugo Guin­ness, wrote the story, and then he did the screen­play, all based on the themes and ambience of Jewish Austrian writer Stefan Zweig. The cast features F. Murray Abraham, Mathieu Amalric, Adrien Brody, Willem Defoe, Jeff Goldblum, Jude Law, Edward Norton, and Saoirse Ronan. It was filmed at Görlitz, Saxony, and Germany. It received a Motion Picture Rating (MPAA), Rated R for language, some sexual content and violence. It's 100 minutes long.

The cinematography is stylized to work well in this comedy. There are a number of brief cameos that further the comedy. Hotel employees are supposed to be invisible except when they need to be seen. So you take big name recognizable stars, dress them in hotel attire, age them in makeup, and coach them on their speech so they are invisible. Right!

Review Conclusion w/ Consumer Recommendation

“The Grand Budapest Hotel” is a cute story with the point ostensibly being to illustrate the creative process of a writer. The story in fact sets a peace­ful man in a war zone, the message being that we not worry about how a writer creates but take care to minimize the strife around him so he can. It was funny, enjoy­able, and even the violence had but a story­book aura about it. I recommend it for easy comedic enter­tain­ment.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Well done action flick! Suitability For Children: Not Suitable for Children of Any Age. Video Occasion: Fit For a Friday Evening. Special effects: Absolutely amazing special effects. Suspense: Some suspenseful moments. Overall product rating: Four stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture taken from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Software, print.

Hodge, Bodie. Tower of Babel: The Cultural History of Our Ancestors. Green Forest, AR: New Leaf Pub., 2013. Print.