The use of lighting and mise-en-scène to convey emotion and meaning in The Grand Budapest Hotel

The Grand Budapest Hotel is a vibrant and lively film strong moments of both comedy and tragedy, throughout the film Wes Anderson uses mise-en-scène and several techniques with in it to convey emotion and atmosphere.

One example of mise-en-scène can be seen in the scene where the older Zero sits down with the young author to tell him this story, Wes uses the lighting to show that this is almost a romantic experience for Zero not to insinuate anything between the characters but rather that the retelling of Zeros life story is something that Zero truly loves, because by telling it he and us along with him get to relive his past and bathe in the nostalgia.

Later in the film it cuts back to the older Zero telling his story, the scene starts in the same bright lighting that we had left them at but then the lights dim, and it cuts to a center framed shot of Zero when he tells the author that talking about her makes him cry then the lights brighten on his face as he decides to go on with the story despite the painful memory. Lighting is used very well in this scene to convey the deep longing and love that Zero has for her and to illustrate how she is everything in his life which he later explains to the author is why he bought the Grand Budapest.

Color is another technique of mise-en-scène that Wes uses to communicate with the audience, this is seen significantly in the scene toward the end of the movie where they are on the train and are stopped by a death squad which the older Zero tells us shots and kills M. Gustave, the use of black and white in the scene signifies two things to me. One it expresses how this is one the saddest moments in Zeros life. Two it might be a sort of reference to Steven Spielberg’s 1993 Schindlers List which also uses color and lack thereof to communicate the horrors of the holocaust as I believe this scene alludes to.

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