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Budapest | FilmMarch 13, 2014

Is Grand Budapest Hotel is for real?

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Grand Budapest Hotel by Wes Anderson – the director of The Royal Tenenbaums (2001), The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004), The Darjeeling Limited (2007) – it was much anticipated and it has finally come out in movie theatres.

The movie takes place in Europe in the late 1920s and tells the story Mr. Gustave, who serves as the hotel’s perfectly composed concierge.

But what is really the Grand Budapest Hotel? Does it really exist? Well, yes and no.

As location for the interiors Mr.Anderson – together with production designer Adam Stockhausen (12 Years a Slave) – picked the Gorlitzer Warenhaus, an empty, run-down, Art Nouveau department store located in the small East German city of Gorlitz. “The columns, the staircases, that really magnificent window and that huge chandelier, that was already there, that’s all original,” says Stockhausen. “We built everything else.” (HolliwoodReporter source).

Anderson fell so much in love with the Gorlitzer Warenhaus he even considered buying it, if only to save it from demolition. Soon after an article about the movie was published on a newspaper, a private investor — Winfried Stocker —bought the building. The Warenhaus currently is being renovated and is set to open its doors again next year.

The interior furniture and the whole feeling of the movie, reveals Adam Stockhausen, come instead from a tour that Anderson undertook in Eastern and Southern Germany, the Czech Republic and Prague, but that also included Vienna and Budapest; a tour that partially Stockhausen retraced, too, to align his vision with Anderson’s. But the location that amazed them was a town called Karlovy Vary which inspired them and the movie particularly.

It is a spa town located in western Bohemia, in the Czech Republic. In the 19th century, Karlovy Vary became a popular tourist destination, especially known for international celebrities visiting for spa treatment.

It was used as the location for a number of movies, including the 2006 Last Holiday and Casino Royale, both of which used the city’s Grandhotel Moskva-Pupp in different ways, the hotel that’s been referred too by Stockhausen as a source of inspiration for Grand Budapest Hotel.

The city is striking because it is made of pastel-colored buildings and lovely surroundings. It was impossible, though, to get all the real details in one frame for the movie so the solution to get that feeling had to be different from shooting there.

Although the facade of the Grand Budapest Hotel looks suspiciously like the Hotel Bristol in Karlovy Vary, in fact all the settings for the exterior shootings were obtained by building a handmade miniature model, while the background was inspired by 19th Century landscape artist Caspar David Friedrich and realized in painting by Michael Lenz.

On NYT, Mr. Anderson says “I’ve always loved miniatures in general,” “I just like the charm of them.”

As NYT reports, the making process started with a sketch, then the model was built at Studio Babelsberg in Potsdam. The hotel model is 14 feet long and 7 feet deep, while the hill, with its funicular railway, was built at a different scale for a better rendition on screen.

Also the observatory tower that is seen in the movie is real.

It is located in Karlovy Vary and was built on a different scale than the Hotel (below, next to the Grandhotel Pupp back in 1965), just like the funicular railway.

In the movie it also appears a majestic deer that overlooks the Grand Budapest Hotel in the film’s poster?

It really exists…

If you want to visit Karlovy Vary – the city definitely deserves a trip – make sure to eat at Svejk restaurant, at the restaurant Embassy, at the restaurant of Hotel Promenada. Also visit the Moser Glass museum with lovely glass creations. And if the Grandhotel Pupp is all booked, you can stay at the Imperial Hotel. ( Source Elisa della Barba www.swide.com )

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