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Sunday, June 26, 2022

Record Routine: Desplat leaves no emotional vacancy on 'The Grand Budapest Hotel' soundtrack

Wes Anderson’s newest film, “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” is the story of a hotel clerk and a lobby boy who work in a large, pink hotel located somewhere in the mountains of Eastern Europe during the interwar period. Alexandre Desplat, who also composed the original soundtracks for “Moonrise Kingdom” and “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” puts his usual pep and penchant for story into the original soundtrack.

The first thing any listener will notice about the “Grand Budapest” soundtrack is its scope. You can see the landscape through the music; everything from the first snow to the spring thaw is present in Desplat’s work, and it should evidence itself in the film.

Even more impressive is the composer’s use of a single theme to showcase all those scenes and emotions. First heard in “Mr. Moustafa” and manifested later in "A Troops Barracks (Requiem for The Grand Budapest),” the simple line of piano and strings show the wide variety of emotion sure to be experienced while watching the hijinks of the film.

Desplat also makes liberal use of stringed instruments and horns from Eastern Europe. This gives the soundtrack a very distinct folklike flavor that adds to the authenticity of the work. Especially evoked in “The Family Desgoffe Und Taxis” and “The Alpine Sudetenwaltz,” this genuineness makes the entire soundtrack a more wholesome listen.

No movie is completely free of tension, however, and “The Grand Budapest Hotel” is certainly no different. Desplat plans for these moments too in his score, using tracks like “No Safe House” or the aforementioned “Troops Barracks” to show the pain and uncertainty surrounding Europe’s interwar period after World War I.

Desplat is not the only artist on the soundtrack. Anderson uses a number of classical orchestras from around the continent, such as Siegfried Behrend & the DZO Chamber Orchestra, the Osipov State Russian Folk Orchestra & Vitaly Gnutov to further flesh out Eastern Europe’s rich musical heritage.

Regardless of whether or not you see the movie or even like Wes Anderson, the soundtrack for “The Grand Budapest Hotel” is worth trying for studying music or just a plain, recreational listen. And if you do like Anderson’s movies, it’s exactly what you would expect from a movie about a giant, pink hotel.

Rating: A

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