Let's Examine the Three Aspect Ratios of 'The Grand Budapest Hotel'

Credit: Fox Searchlight
What did each aspect ratio help convey inside the story? 

There's so much that goes into telling a story. It's not just the words on the page, but the visuals that the collaborations on a project bring to the table. One of the most interesting directors working today is Wes Anderson. His visuals are incredible—they reflect our world, but also somehow places that are nothing like our world. They highlight characters and nostalgia, and strike contrasting tones to bring his visions to life. 

Anderson is also an excellent collaborator, really working with an excellent team who shares his vision. For The Grand Budapest Hotel, Anderson not only wanted to get the story and sets right but also spent a lot of time planning how to use the aspect ratios at the center of the movie. He and cinematographer Robert Yeoman chose three different aspect ratios to tell the story.

Check out this video from In Depth Cine, and let's talk after the jump. 

Let's Examine the Three Aspect Ratios of The Grand Budapest Hotel

The Grand Budapest Hotel was shot in 1.33, 1.85, and 2.35. Each ratio was picked because they were popular in the decade they were set. 

“The movie jumps through three time periods; the different aspect ratios tell viewers where they are in the timeline,” Anderson said in an interview

To shoot all of these, Yeoman used an Arricam ST with Cooke S4, Varotal, Technovision/Cooke, and Angenieux Optimo Lenses. The aspect ratios in the movie are used as framing devices for the stories within the movie. 

Credit: Greater Depths

Anderson and Yoman decided to shoot in 1.37:1 format, also known as Academy ratio, for scenes set in 1932. They did a lot of research on the work of Ernst Lubitsch and other directors of the period to make sure they were true to their compositions and mise-en-scene.

Scenes that happened in the modern era were made in standard 1.85:1 ratio. And the 1968 scenes were captured in widescreen 2.40:1 ratio with Technovision Cooke anamorphic lenses.

Is this your favorite time Anderson has played with the aspect ratio in his work? Let us know in the comments.      

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