At this point I have to strongly consider reading the books of Stefan Zweig. I had never heard of the Austrian writer until a couple years ago when a friend mentioned he was reading his books and then Zweig’s name popped up in the Julian Barnes novel A Sense of an Ending and now in the closing credits of Wes Anderson’s new masterpiece The Grand Budapest Hotel he gives credit for inspiration to Zweig.
I hardly believe a man like Zweig who committed suicide by overdosing on barbiturates holding his lover’s hand could be as whimsical as The Grand Budapest Hotel, but if his writing is half as imaginative and profound as this flick it would be well worth the time to check him out.
With this movie and his previous one Moonrise Kingdom, Wes Anderson, might be the reigning titleholder of world’s greatest filmmaker (or at the very least the most literary). As Tim Burton and Terry Gilliam have lost their touch Anderson has followed their tradition of creating in his movies a childlike sense of awe while also possessing the touch of a master craftsman. His recruiting of famous actors and ability to push them away from their archetype is second to none. His eye for production design is elite and his storytelling is so dense with detail that it feels each character would be worthy of their own movie.
I would need to see this movie a second time (which is something I plan to do at some point) to properly summarize it, but the movie starts with a statue of a famous dead writer then we go back in time to when the writer was alive to hear his memories of when he was younger and met a man with a hell of a story. That story is the meat of the movie that uses cinema to celebrate memories and humanity and literature. If you possess a funny bone this movie will make you laugh, tear ducts then your eyes will moisten, and the ability to read you will leave hoping Zweig lives up to the high standard of The Grand Budapest Hotel.