The Grand Budapest Hotel is a comedy movie written and directed by Wes Anderson and inspired by the writings of Stefan Zweig. It stars Ralph Fiennes as a concierge who teams up with one of his employees to prove his innocence after he is framed for murder.
The film is a British-German co-production financed by German financial companies and film funding organizations, and was filmed entirely on location in Germany.
Story In Detail
In the present, a teenage girl approaches a monument to a writer in a cemetery. In her arms is a memoir penned by a character known only as "The Author" (Tom Wilkinson). She starts reading a chapter from the book. The Author begins narrating the tale from his desk in 1985 about a trip he made to the Grand Budapest Hotel in 1968.
Located in the fictional Republic of Zubrowka,[a] a European alpine state ravaged by war and poverty, the young Author (Jude Law) discovers that the remote, mountainside hotel has fallen on hard times. Many of its lustrous facilities are now in a poor state of repair, and its guests are few.
The Author encounters the hotel's elderly owner, Zero Moustafa (F. Murray Abraham), one afternoon, and they agree to meet later that evening. Over dinner in the hotel's enormous dining room, Zero tells him the tale of how he took ownership of the hotel and why he is unwilling to close it down.
The story begins in 1932, during the hotel's glory days, when the young Zero (Tony Revolori) was a lobby boy. Zubrowka is on the verge of war, but this is of little concern to Monsieur Gustave H (Ralph Fiennes), the Grand Budapest's devoted concierge. The owner of the hotel is unknown, and only relays important messages through lawyer Deputy Kovacs (Jeff Goldblum).
When he is not attending to the needs of the hotel's wealthy clientele or managing its staff, Gustave courts a series of aging women who flock to the hotel to enjoy his "exceptional service". One of the ladies is Madame Céline Villeneuve "Madame D" Desgoffe und Taxis (Tilda Swinton), and Gustave spends the night with her prior to her departure.
One month later, he is informed that Madame D has died under mysterious circumstances. Taking Zero along, he races to her wake and the reading of the will, where Kovacs, coincidentally the executor of the will, reveals that she had bequeathed Gustave Boy with Apple, a very valuable painting, in her will. This enrages her family, all of whom hoped to inherit it.
Her son, Dmitri Desgoffe und Taxis (Adrien Brody), lashes out at Gustave. With the help of Zero, Gustave takes the painting and returns to the Grand Budapest, securing the painting in the hotel's safe. During the journey, Gustave makes a pact with Zero — in return for the latter's help, he makes Zero his heir.
Shortly thereafter, Gustave is arrested and imprisoned for the murder of Madame D after forced testimony by Serge X (Mathieu Amalric), Madame D's butler.
Zero aids Gustave in escaping from Zubrowka's prison by sending a series of stoneworking tools concealed inside cakes made by Zero's fiancée Agatha (Saoirse Ronan). Along with a group of hardened convicts, Gustave digs his way out of his cell. Gustave then teams up with Zero to prove his innocence.
They are pursued by J. G. Jopling (Willem Dafoe), a cold-blooded assassin working for Dmitri, who kills Kovacs when he refuses to work with Dmitri. Their adventure takes them to a mountaintop monastery where they meet with Serge, the only person who can clear Gustave of the murder accusations, but Serge is strangled before by a pursuing Jopling before he can reveal a piece of important information.
Zero and Gustave steal a sled and chase Jopling as he flees the monastery on skis. During a face-off at the edge of a cliff, Zero pushes the assassin to his death and rescues Gustave.
Back at the Grand Budapest, the outbreak of war is imminent, and the military have commandeered the hotel and are in the process of converting it into a barracks. A heartbroken Gustave vows to never again pass the threshold.
Agatha joins the two and agrees to go inside and retrieve the painting, but Dmitri discovers her and the painting. A chase and a chaotic gunfight ensue before Gustave's innocence is finally proven by the discovery of the copy of Madame D's second will, which she gave to Serge and he subsequently hid in the back of the painting. This will was to take effect if she was murdered.
The identity of Madame D's murderer and how Gustave is proved innocent are left ambiguous (though earlier in the film a suspicious bottle labeled "strychnine"[a potent poison] can be seen on Jopling's desk). The will also reveals that she was the mysterious owner of the Grand Budapest. She leaves much of her fortune, the hotel, and the painting to Gustave, making him fabulously wealthy in the process, and he becomes one of the hotel's regular guests while Zero becomes the new concierge.
During a train journey across the border, enemy soldiers inspect Gustave and Zero's papers. Narrating the story, Zero describes Gustave being taken out and shot after defending Zero, as he did on the initial train ride in the beginning of the movie. Agatha succumbs to "the Prussian Grippe" and dies two years later, as does her infant son.
Zero inherits the fortune Gustave leaves behind and vows to continue his legacy at the Grand Budapest, but a Communist takeover of Zubrowka and the ravages of time slowly begin to take their toll on both the building and its owner.
An aged and devastated Zero confesses to the Author that he cannot bring himself to close the hotel because it is his last link to the best years of his life. The Author later departs for South America and never returns to the hotel.
Back in the present, the girl continues reading in front of the statue of the author.