Story

The story of The Grand Budapest Hotel is told by an author (played by both Jude Law and Tom Wilkinson), who has been told the story by the ageing Zero Moustafa (F. Murray Abraham).

In 1932, when the story begins, teenage Zero Moustafa (Tony Revolori) starts work as lobby boy at the Grand Budapest Hotel in the snow-covered mountains of the fictional country Zubrowkan.

The hotel’s legendary concierge, Monsieur Gustave H. (Ralph Fiennes) takes Zero under his wing. Gustave is responsible for absolutely everything that occurs at the hotel, and his speciality is catering to the whims of the Hotel’s older love-starved widows. One such widow is the elderly dowager Countess Madame D. (Tilda Swinton), who has grave fears that her life is under threat.

Under Gustave’s careful supervision, Zero soon learns the ropes and becomes indispensable to Gustave. Zero also meets the love of his life, Agatha (Saoirse Ronan), a baker at Mendl’s pastry shop.

When the Countess is found murdered, Gustave is bequeathed a priceless painting, Boy with Apple. The Countess’s family, in particular her son Dmitri (Adrian Brody), conspires against Gustave, who is arrested for the Countess’s murder and sent to prison. Gustave doesn’t believe that he’ll get a fair trial and, with the help of Zero, Agatha and some fellow prisoners, he escapes.

Gustave and Zero are now on the run both from the authorities and Dmitri’s murderous henchman, J.G. Jopling (Willem Dafoe). Gustave puts out an emergency call to his fellow hotel concierges, who arrange a rescue. Gustave and Zero then set off to find the evidence they need to clear Gustave’s name.

Themes

Friendship and loyalty; murder; war

Violence

The Grand Budapest Hotel has violence scattered throughout. Most of the violence is comical and cartoonish. But some of it is brutal and realistic, and there is some blood and gore. For example:

  • Gustave and Zero are in a train compartment, and some soldiers go in. Gustave verbally insults the soldiers who then try to arrest Gustave and Zero. They slam Gustave and Zero face first into the wall of the train carriage, giving both bloody noses.
  • One man threatens another man saying, ‘I will cut your throat’.
  • Zero tells how police murdered his entire family during a war in his country. The police arrested and tortured him too and put him in an internment camp.
  • We hear that a woman has died after being poisoned. Her dead body lies on the floor.
  • While in prison Gustave appears with two black eyes, cuts and bruising. He says that he was in a fight with other prisoners to prove himself and that his attackers are now his friends.
  • A man stands in an open doorway of a museum with his hand resting on the doorframe. A second unseen man slams the door shut, and the first man screams out in pain. Four bloody severed fingers lie on the ground.
  • During a prison escape, one of the escaping prisoners kills another inmate by grabbing him around the neck and strangling him. There is the sound of neck bones breaking. One of the prisoners has a knife. He jumps through a trapdoor and attacks six guards, who shout and scream out in pain. The next image is of the prisoner lying on top of five dead and bloody prison guards. He repeatedly and brutally stabs the sixth guard in the chest while the guard stabs him back until they both lie dead and covered in blood.
  • A newspaper headline says, ‘Local girl’s head found in laundry basket’. We see a woman’s severed head lifted from a basket. The head has open staring eyes and blood where the neck has been severed.
  • One scene shows an exchange of gunfire between two groups of soldiers in a hotel hallway. No-one is hurt.

Content that may disturb children

Under 5

In addition to the violent scenes mentioned above, The Grand Budapest Hotel has some scenes that could scare or disturb children under five years.

For example, Dmitri’s henchman, Jopling, has a disturbing, threatening appearance. He has pointed lower teeth and knuckledusters in the shape of skulls. 

From 5-8

In addition to the violent scenes and scary visual images mentioned above, The Grand Budapest Hotel has some scenes that could scare or disturb children in this age group.

For example, someone throws a cat out of an upper-storey apartment to intimidate its owner. The cat yowls as it goes out the window, and its flattened dead body lies in a pool of blood on the pavement below. A short time later the owner of the dead cat carries a bag with the cat’s body in it and dumps the bag in a rubbish bin. 

From 8-13

Children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by the scenes described above. 

Over 13

Younger children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by some of the scenes described above. 

Sexual references

The Grand Budapest Hotel has sexual references and innuendo throughout. For example:

  • Gustave says that the women he offers sexual comfort to have to be rich, old and insecure.
  • Gustave suggests that he had sex with a woman who was 84 years old and that she was ‘great in the sack’.
  • An army captain talks about Gustave and says, ‘Your concierge was very kind to me when I was a little boy’.
  • A man makes crude and homophobic remarks about Gustave’s sexuality and sexual activities.
  • Someone talks about spending money on whores and whiskey. 

Alcohol, drugs and other substances

The Grand Budapest Hotel shows some use of substances. For example:

  • Several scenes show people smoking cigarettes and pipes.
  • Characters drink socially throughout the movie. They drink cocktails, wine, sherry, champagne and whiskey. No drunkenness is shown. 

Nudity and sexual activity

The Grand Budapest Hotel has some nudity and sexual activity. For example:

  • A comical scene shows a naked man from the back being hosed down.
  • There is a brief image of a man standing up, wearing a robe pulled back to reveal his naked chest with the head of an elderly woman in front of his genital area.
  • An elderly woman sits in a bed. She is nude and we see her breasts, torso and shoulders while her legs are beneath the bed covers. A man wearing a robe is sitting next to her.
  • The picture that Gustave inherits is replaced by a pen and ink drawing of two naked women in a sexual embrace with their genitals exposed.
  • There are some 1940s-style black-and-white photos of naked women on the wall of a prison cell.
  • One scene shows Zero and Agatha sitting in the balcony of a movie theatre. Zero asks Agatha if she will marry him. She says ‘yes’, and they madly start taking off their clothes, at which point the scene ends. 

Product placement

None of concern 

Coarse language

The Grand Budapest Hotel has coarse language and name-calling throughout. 

Ideas to discuss with your children

The Grand Budapest Hotel is a clever and quirky comedy with a star-studded cast.

This movie is recommended viewing for older teenagers and adults. But its violence, which is at times surprisingly brutal for an M-rated movie, the frequent coarse language and some of the sexual references make it unsuitable for younger teenagers. It is therefore not recommended for children under 15 years.

The main messages from this movie are that:

  • loyalty should be highly prized
  • memories can be painful, but are worth holding onto.

Values in this movie that you could reinforce with older children include loyalty and perseverance through adversity, as displayed by Gustave and Zero.