From the minute the movie begins, Anderson places into a sort of “dream world” that is the Grand Budapest Hotel. Vibrant colors and symmetry in nearly every shot create beautiful scenes, but not necessarily believable or relatable ones. Just imagine of something like Die Hard was shot this way: it would turn from a suspenseful action film to something instead mimicking an arcade game.
As you can see, the Die Hard scene looks like it can mimic reality, while the Grand Budapest Hotel puts us in a very planned scene. The movie continues this way until a certain action is used by the characters: the use of obscenities.
The very first instance of this happening is when Zero and and the Author (Jude Law) are relaxing in the roman baths. Suddenly, mid conversation, the shot cuts to an image of a rather fat man being hosed down in the shower. While this was not the most obscene shot in the film, it was definitely a step away from the “dreamy” shots that led up to it. When I first saw this scene I thought it was nothing more than a gag, but as the movie continued and more obscene shots happened, I began to realize they served as much more than that. These wild cuts or exclamations take the viewer out of Anderson’s “dream world” for a split second to remind us that what we are watching is indeed reality, and not just a perfect recreation of a story.
The other big example of a visual obscenity that I noticed also happens to be during one of the more intense scenes in the film: when Zero and Gustave first approach “Boy With Apple” in Madame D’s home.
This painting is incredibly beautiful in a classical sense, almost to the point where Gustave sheds a tear witnessing it as the sole occupant of the wall. This is why found Zero’s choice to replace it rather amusing:
This painting is about the furthest thing from “Boy with Apple” that Zero could have chosen. It’s incredible obscenity turns this very intense scene into a comedic one, and more importantly one that could actually have happened.
Along with these visual obscenities, there were quite a bit of spoken ones that continued to remove the view from Anderson’s “dream”. Interestingly, the times I noticed characters cursing were all during some of the more intense scenes. When Gustave says “F*ck it” after being attacked on the train, or when Dmitri calls Gustave a “F*cking F*ggot” during the reading of the will both add an intense level of severity to otherwise goofy scenes.