I recently took a trip to the cinema to see Wes Anderson’s latest film, The Grand Budapest Hotel. I’d been looking forward to seeing it since seeing the trailer and hearing fantastic reviews from critics and friends alike. It looked it would be all of the things I like – an opulent period setting, a story revolving around a murder (what? I’ve read a lot of Arthur Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie and unabashedly enjoy what ITV 3 has to offer in the way of detective dramas), and some great visuals. And you know what? The film definitely did not disappoint, in fact, I think it was better than I had anticipated.
The story was great, with fantastic pacing meaning there was never a dull moment. Anderson cleverly managed to tap into comedy caper films of the 1930’s, the era where the main action is set. Anytime the grandeur of the hotel started to swallow the story into sincere pomposity, we were reminded that tongue was firmly in cheek, with unexpected cursing or a funny line. The casting was excellent and the performances pretty faultless for me – Ralph Fiennes in particular impressed me in this departure from his usual kind of role.
You can’t talk about this film without talking about the visuals. The colour pallete used gives it a really distinctive look and this couldn’t have been achieved without colour grading. I was really interested to hear about this process for this film, and after a quick google search I came across an article on postperspective.com all about it. Here, we hear about the processes used by colourist Jill Bogdanowicz and her team to give The Grand Budapest Hotel its flavour.
The film has a story within a story within a story, each set in a different era, the 1930’s, the 1960’s and the 1980’s respectively. As an aside from the grading, I was intrigued to read that the three different eras were all shot differently, with varying aspect ratios. This is something I didn’t actually notice whilst watching and is a subtle way of distinguishing where we are in the story.
The 1930’s had quite a desaturated look but with use of colour separation, the pinks, purples and the reds were not lost to this. The juxtaposition of the hotel in its grandeur and its deteriorated state in the 1960’s was achieved by using stronger colours, golds and yellows and making it less saturated. I’d definitely recommend a read of the full article, as linked above, to get a more comprehensive grasp on how this was achieved.
Reading about their work definitely made me think about colour correction in my own videos and how it can be used to create a distinct and stylised look, as well as just rectifying what has been captured at the recording stage. This is something I’ll definitely be experimenting with!
Altman, R (2014) – Enhancing color at ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’