GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL: FILM REVIEW

“Cinematography is infinite in its possibilities… much more so than music or language.”

Conrad Hall

According to Oxford Dictionary, “The art of photography and camerawork in film-making” is termed as cinematography.Perhaps one of the hardest things to master in the realm of film, it truly takes a keen sense of observation and experience to create a masterpiece. Since it primarily deals with elevating the visual experience while conveying the message, it can be quite a challenging aspect.

Grand Budapest Hotel sets the perfect example when it comes to a ‘well crafted film’. It has a lot of Oscar nominations in its kitty like Best Achievement in Editing, Directing, Cinematography etc. The film’s cinematographer Robert D. Yeoman is an American by origin and also a member of American Society of Cinematographers.

The film’s plot  revolves around two characters set in the era of the 1930’s at Grand Budapest Hotel, Gustave the Concierge incharge and Zero, his protege (lobby boy). It’s an absolute laughing riot with a series of fortunate or unfortunate events that descend upon the main characters.

The Cinematography aspect of this film is exceptional with meticulous placement of details within the frame. One of the most distinctive elements i.e. the choice of colours on-sreen played a pivotal role in the visual aesthetic of the film. The colour palette used also helped convey the essence of the era the film was set in. The film was divided into three sections- 1930’s, 1960’s &  1980’s when it came to the frames in which they were shot and the colours depicted. In the beginning of the film, a lot of saturated colours like reds, purples, yellows were used to help achieve richness and vividness to the overall look. The initial scenes were also drenched with pale pinks, faded ivory and dull browns. For the 1960’s the idea was to incorporate the era’s colour scheme of rich greens, gold and yellow. The colour scheme set for the 1980’s did not command a lot of attention but rather put focus on colour to the background. It was neither too much nor too less. The standout period in this film however, was certainly the 1930’s.

                   
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There was a high degree of perfection seen in the art of cinematography. The compositions were very balanced, there was not one distracting element within the frame. Symmetry was maintained throughout the film. On close observation, one could also notice use of one-point perspective and positioning of characters in certain scenes.

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Use of One-point perspective in frame

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Use of perspective in similar fashion.

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Perfect division of space

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Balance in the composition

This can also be seen across the kind of shots been taken. The camera swinging horizontally across from left to right in a straight mannerism was also later discovered to be one of Wes’s signature style. The shots are clean and devoid of excessive movement. A lot of aerial shots, wide shots and mid-length shots were used.

The movie is also shot in a variety of ratios wherein the width and height dimensions of the screen alter. The film is majorly shot in the Academy ratio (1.33:1, 1.37:1, or 4:3) during the era of the 1930’s which is more or less squarish in that format.The scenes of the 1960’s are shot in a panorama-like 2.35:1 format. It offers a wider and more rectilinear frame. Scenes shot right in the beginning and end are more modern with the 1980’s format with it’s screen ratio 1.85:1.

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1.33:1 Ratio

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2.35:1 Ratio

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1.85:1 Ratio

Cinematography is definitely infinite in its possibilities in terms of explorations to dive into. It takes time, precision, skill and risk in terms of creativity to create a finely crafted film. Grand Budapest Hotel definitely seals the deal with the above factor taken into great consideration.


References

1. Brainy Quote, n.a, Cinematography Quotes, Available on: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/cinematography.html, Accessed on 5 April, 2015

2. IMDb, 2015, The Grand Budapest Hotel- Awards, Available on: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2278388/awards, Accessed on 5 April, 2015

3. Beth Marchant, 2014, Inhabiting Wes Anderson’s World of Color in The Grand Budapest Hotel, Available on: http://www.studiodaily.com/2014/03/inhabiting-wes-andersons-world-of-color-in-the-grand-budapest-hotel/#sthash.H0Oji1pZ.dpuf, Accessed on 5 April, 2015

4. The Telegraph, 2014, Wes Anderson: the grand design behind The Grand Budapest Hotel, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/film/10683371/Wes-Anderson-the-grand-design-behind-The-Grand-Budapest-Hotel.html, Accessed on 5 April, 2015

5. NYU Local, 2014, Inside The Cameras Of Wes Anderson’s “The Grand Budapest Hotel”, http://nyulocal.com/city/2014/03/12/inside-the-cameras-of-wes-andersons-the-grand-budapest-hotel/, Accessed on 5 April, 2015

Picture Credits

*Photo 1 & 2 are property of Pinterest.

* Photo 3,4,5 & 6 are screenshots from the film

*Photo 7,8 & 9: NYU Local, 2014, Inside The Cameras Of Wes Anderson’s “The Grand Budapest Hotel”, http://nyulocal.com/city/2014/03/12/inside-the-cameras-of-wes-andersons-the-grand-budapest-hotel/, Accessed on 5 April, 2015


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