Filmmaker Wes Anderson Leaves the "Kingdom" for "Budapest Hotel"

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The adventures of Gustave H, a legendary concierge at a famous European hotel between the wars, and Zero Moustafa, the lobby boy who becomes his most trusted friend.
Photo Credit: Various
January 9th, 2013

Filmmaker Wes Anderson Leaves the "Kingdom" for "Budapest Hotel"

-- In the hands of independent screenwriter, director, and producer Wes Anderson, humor takes on new and unexpected forms. Inspired by many of his own childhood woes, Anderson creates fanciful stories about broken families, wasted talent, stunted emotional development, and sibling rivalry in a way that somehow feels both lighthearted and cynical. Anderson is best known for his successful 2001 indie hit "The Royal Tenenbaums" but has also been highly praised for films such as "Rushmore" and the animated Roald Dahl adaptation "The Fantastic Mr. Fox."

Born in Houston, Texas, in 1969, Wes Mortimer Wales Anderson began his film career by shooting footage with a Super 8mm camera and acting alongside his two brothers. A child of divorced parents, Anderson used theatrics and storytelling as an outlet for his troubles. At St. John's School, the location that inspired the setting for "Rushmore," Anderson was known for putting on detailed and imaginative productions, sometimes using oddly humorous elements such as sock puppets.

Anderson became friends with actor Owen Wilson at the University of Texas, and the pair later became writing partners. Wes and Owen teamed up to create the thirteen-minute movie "Bottle Rocket," which received enough success at the Sundance Film Festival to earn funding for a feature-length film. Wilson has since become a frequent collaborator on and recurring cast member in Anderson's projects, starring in seven of Anderson's films.

Wes has achieved varying levels of success with later films like "The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou" and "Darjeeling Limited." His signature style is full of wry humor offset by colorful, theatrical backdrops that have a whimsical storybook quality. The characters are always helplessly flawed in ways that are simple and obvious to viewers but create droll and amusing conflicts with comedic results.

Since making the short film "Bottle Rocket," Anderson has gained a large cult following that includes legendary filmmaker Martin Scorsese and acclaimed actors such as Anjelica Huston and Bill Murray. Next on the agenda for Anderson is the movie "The Grand Budapest Hotel," which is planned for a 2014 release. Wes hasn't divulged any of the movie's plot details and has mainly described it as "Euro." Because Anderson has lived in France for a few years, it's no surprise that his latest movie will be shot overseas.

"The Grand Budapest Hotel" centers around the character Mr. Gustave, a concierge who will be played by British actor Ralph Fiennes. Rare tidbits about the film suggest that Mr. Gustave must deal with all sorts of playful cynicism, enchanting quirks, and random bouts of moodiness displayed by an eccentric group of hotel guests. Many of Anderson's staple actors from previous projects are returning for this film, including Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman, and Owen Wilson. Wes is using many of the cast members of the 2012 hit "Moonrise Kingdom" in this new project. He is also bringing in new blood, with rising star Saoirse Ronan, Jude Law, and F. Murray Abraham rounding out the cast.

While fans await the release of "The Grand Budapest Hotel," Anderson continues to rack up nominations for the current awards season. Grossing more than $65 million globally, "Moonrise Kingdom" is the first film to reach the level of critical success and box-office sales that Wes obtained with "The Royal Tenenbaums." Opening-week revenues from "Moonrise Kingdom" doubled the initial intake of "The Royal Tenenbaums," but the latter film pulled in a total of $71 million over time. It was also nominated for Best Screenplay at the 2002 Academy Awards.

"Moonrise Kingdom" was co-written with Roman Coppola and tells the story of a boy and girl who honor a pact to run away together. The film takes place in mid-1960s New England, where the daring twelve-year-old friends venture to a nearby island. Alone in the wilderness, the young runaways fall in love against the backdrop of an isolated cove that is equally magical and wistful. Outside the children's fantasy world, the adults frantically lead a search party as a storm moves closer to the island. The movie stars Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward as the main characters, Sam and Suzy. The teenaged actors are supported by talented veteran performers such as Edward Norton, Tilda Swinton, Frances McDormand, Bruce Willis, Jason Schwartzman, and Bill Murray.

In 2012, the film won a Movie of the Year award from the American Film Institute and Best Film at the Gotham Awards. It also received several awards and nominations for writing, music, and overall cinematography from smaller critics' associations. "Moonrise Kingdom begins 2013 with a nomination for Best Motion Picture - Comedy or Musical at the Golden Globes. It also has five nominations at the upcoming Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards and another five nods for Independent Spirit Awards, including Best Director and Best Screenplay.

Wes Anderson is one of the few independent filmmakers who have consistently achieved mainstream success with art-house films. His trademark techniques have spawned their own genre and heavily influenced other indie directors and screenwriters from the mid-1990s onward. With the release of "The Grand Budapest Hotel," Anderson is sure to charm a new generation of thoughtful filmgoers.