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How To Steal Like Wes Anderson – The Grand Budapest Hotel

The difference between an artistic homage and a lazy rip-off.

Many filmmakers are known for their liberal use of homages to classic films. Quentin Tarantino is most famous among them (and arguably the best to ever do it), but others such as Spielberg and Paul Thomas Anderson and Cameron are similarly held in high regard.

One name typically not found on that list is Wes Anderson. The acclaimed writer and director has such an overwhelmingly unique style that trying to crowbar visual references from older films into his works would seemingly throw a wrench into the overall stylistic continuity of his films.

Or would it? It turns out that Anderson actually isn’t entirely averse to paying homages to some of his favorite works. The way he approaches such homages is much like a notable band covering a classic song. Instead of copying it directly, the tone and tenor of the piece is transformed into something more closely resembling that of the covering band’s overall style and sound.

In this video essay by Thomas Flight, we’re shown how The Grand Budapest Hotel has one of Wes Anderson’s most direct and extended references to another director’s work, in what is essentially a recreation of a scene from Alfred Hitchcock’s “Torn Curtain.”

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