The Grand Budapest Hotel – what is Budapest doing in the title of the Wes Anderson movie?

Apr 5, 2019

It’s a well-known fact that Wes Anderson’s superstar-filled (Ralph Fiennes, Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, Edward Norton) movie has little to do with Budapest, except for the title. Then what made him put this Eastern-European capital to the center of attention?

There are no researches to back this up yet, but the year 2014 brought probably a big growth for Hungarian tourism. Wes Anderson’s newest feature film, the Grand Budapest Hotel came out that year and Anderson must have known that the title is going to give a big boost in interest towards the Hungarian capital.Knowing this it’s even more interesting that the movie has little connection to Budapest, or let alone Hungary. But certainly there are some. So let’s break it down:

The royal suite

The hotel is inspired by an actual hotel in Budapest. It was founded in 1896 and the original name was Grand Hotel Royal Budapest. Today it’s called Corinthia Hotel Budapest, and it’s a five star hotel in the city centre. It has quite a history, especially in regards to film history.

It’s one of the birthplaces of Hungarian film: this is where the first motion pictures of the Lumière brothers were projected
The ballroom & concert hall actually functioned as a cinema (first as Royal Apollo Cinema, then Red Star Cinema) till 1997.
Josephine Baker was staying here (in the presidential suite of course, which is now named after Ferenc Liszt and it’s more than 240 square meters) Eastern-European paths

Jeff Goldblum played Vilmos Kovacs in The Grand Budapest Hotel. The name of his character is a nod towards two legendary Hungarian cinematographers: László Kovács (Easy Rider, Ghostbusters, New York, New York) & Vilmos Zsigmond (Close Encounters of the Third Kind, The Deer Hunter). The both emigrated to the US in 1956, and Jeff Goldblum’s character dies on the 23th of October, which is the national holiday of the 1956 Revolution in Hungary.

Wes Anderson pulled the classic Wes Anderson, and gave us little Easter eggs that actually make a connection to Hungary & Budapest.