Scene Breakdown: “We Were Happy Here” and How Wes Anderson’s ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ Takes on Romance

Wes Anderson’s whimsical world is often full of a plethora of themes worthy of analysis and breakdown. And of all the films, The Grand Budapest Hotel‘s take on love isn’t as evident as in other films, but it’s bold and reflective when the words are finally spoken in a way that works. This isn’t The Royal Tenenbaums or Moonrise Kingdom, but it’s reflective of the importance of setting in relationship.

We’ve written about how Pemberley is where Elizabeth’s feelings towards Darcy begin to develop in both the books and almost every adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. A setting is always integral to the plot and especially, a setting like the Grand Budapest Hotel, which the film also so happens to be named after.

The Grand Budapest Hotel is a story about romance too. A short, beautiful little gem that takes on what it means to hold onto things because of the people we love and why that form of sentimentalism is beautiful. “We were happy here. For a little while.” Zero didn’t hold on to the hotel in order to honor Gustave and their adventures, but ultimately for Agatha. That’s what it comes down to with his arc, falling in love and holding onto it. And it’s a beautiful arc at that.

However, it’s not just about the two of them at the end of the day. We were happy here is reflective of the hotel’s essence, not just for Zero, but for its staff. If it weren’t, why else would people care of its stories? This is a film about corruption, society, classes, war, relationships (both platonic and romantic), and it’s about preservation.

Still from The Grand Budapest Hotel

Its title would have been very different if the hotel’s status didn’t matter, and that status would have been very different, unworthy of preservation if it wasn’t held down by such a powerful emotion. It’s the love between Zero and Agatha that’s preserved and lived on starting from Mendl’s pastries to a larger, grander scheme that’s ended in love and found its footing inside of pink and purple walls. It’s not the last connection to a vanished world, it’s the connection to the kind of emotion that would never vanish.

It’s thematically reflective of the fact that love cannot vanish, even in passing. Love preserves. Love is at the forefront of most stories, and it’s why it becomes as memorable because it’s an emotion we can all understand– even the most jaded of souls. And perhaps that’s why the author even asks the very question, perhaps it’s why the reasoning behind it all is important. Why is this grand, beautiful hotel still standing in spite of all that’s occurred? Because the love that people have experienced have reverberated through to the walls, the corridors, pink and purple and brimming with all sorts of emotions.

For a little while is enough when the emotions are as profound as it was for Zero and Agatha. For a little while is everything, wholesome, and endearing when the adoration is strong and true. And that’s why those final words hit so hard because it makes for the very kind of answer we’re all seeking. It’s the kind of answer that wraps the film up not in a neat little bow, but in a grand setting–a grand meaning. It’s the kind of answer where its beauty is found in the depth of its simplicity.

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