Grand Hotel Budapest - Lies, Lies, and More Lies

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Sure, movies are all about deception and make-believe, but this is going a bit far. In The Grand Hotel Budapest, Willem Dafoe and other baddies chase the immaculate, well-sexed (mostly by rich old women) Ralph Fiennes and his sidekick Zero across half of Eastern Europe. Fleeing by train and car from Hotel Budapest, Fiennes and Zero then barely survive an icy motorcycle and ski chase. Highly recommended madness.

If you liked Wes Anderson’s fantastic animated Fantastic Mr. Fox, or his Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums, then it’s a must see. And if you happen to be an Afghan village boy who’s been interrogated at gunpoint, you’ll love the character Zero, a hard working and intensely committed Tony Revolori.

Beware that the colors are eye-wateringly bright, Jude Law’s role is small, and Bill Murray has only about 1 minute on screen. If you are Eastern European and a bit old, it could be rough going, though you’ll appreciate all the impertinence and recognize the recurring security checks on the train.


Mr. Gustave, lobby boy Zero, soon dead Madame D (oops, spoiler), and elevator guy.

It’s all fun and games until we get to the art. Then it’s lies, lies, and more lies.

Mr. Gustave is Herr Chef of pink and orange Grand Hotel Budapest and for reasons that shouldn’t concern us, he and lobby boy Zero sneak into the refined living room of a noble family and steal a centuries old masterpiece – Boy with Apple by Johannes Van Hoytl the Younger. It’s a portrait of a posh, well-dressed kid thoughtfully handling an apple with long bony fingers. 


Mr. Gustave takes down Boy with Apple.

They replace it with an Egon Schiele of two women, in nothing but stocking, legs wide apart. One looks like she’s rubbing the other’s thingy. Really, see.


Zero puts up Schiele women stroking furry parts.

I loved the painting exchange and turned to Google for more about Van Hoytl the Younger and his life’s ‘oeuvre.’ Nothing. Then I found this.


What’s this?!

And this.


A centuries old photo of a pale kid pinching an apple.

Can you believe this? Hours online only to find that Wes Anderson has put one over on us. He had a random (but talented) guy, whose other credits include a portrait of Bishop Rogers of Oxford, make up a painting for the movie, in the styles Hans Holbein the Younger and Lucas Cranach the Elder. The piece is by an Englishman, Michael Taylor, who painted ‘Young Boy with Apple’ in the Pineapple Dance Studio somewhere in London.

Ok, but only Egon Schiele could produce the pleasuring and very pale women in black stockings. It’s vintage Schiele; explicit erotic horror. Here is his famous Recumbent Female Nude.


Erotic horror, Egon Schiele’s Recumbent Female Nude, 1914.

To get the name of the Schiele painting in the movie I went 97 pages deep into Google Images. Then I looked at the 64,000 items on Google Cultural Institute, searched the collections of several Austrian museums online, and then I realized: we’ve been had again. It’s another big lie.

Two Lesbians Masturbating, as the ‘masterpiece’ is called, is an authentic Rich Pellegrino. Nothing like being fooled by an illustrator with a degree from the Rhode Island School for Design (no offense). Where’s the trust?


Madame D, still alive, is wearing a gold velvet Klimt dress. By 3x Oscar winning designer Milena Canonero.

By Rivaat Zarlif

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Rivaat Zarlif


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