Assuming he’s one filmmaker who’s heavily involved with the marketing of his movies, Wes Anderson has become a master of the fetching teaser poster, using mysteriously detailed, illustrative one-sheets that only hint at what the given film is about. Recently, the posters for his films fall somewhere in between those that peddle attractive casts and director-as-brand, and those that merely tease a brand itself. Anderson is so unfailingly unique and exciting a filmmaker that he has become his own draw, but he doesn’t seem to rely on that, nor do his marquee names seem to be scrawled across his ads just to sell his pictures. They’re doing that, of course, but given that Anderson has come to work with recurring players in a kind of company, the cast list reads more as a celebration of an ensemble, particularly when the biggest name in the lineup is Bill Murray. And how glorious it is to gaze upon a poster that is pushing nothing recognizable, no known faces or logos, but simply something curious, handsome, and new.
Twice in a row, Anderson has employed this specific approach, first with last year’s poster for Moonrise Kingdom, which we named one of the best movie posters of 2012, and now with his poster for The Grand Budapest Hotel, unveiled just days ago. Like the Moonrise Kingdom ad, we’re given a fairy-tale tableau, with an unfamiliar subject in the foreground (here, the titular inn substituted for a Hansel-and-Gretel duo), and a background that stretches off to the horizon. Furthermore, the wedding-cake-esque hotel is surrounded by numerous quirky details, like the perched buck that appears statuesque, the topiaries on the lower terrace that seem to be playing chess with one another, and the cemetery-style arch that bears the movie’s title, perhaps implying that death is afoot.
Quite effectively, what the poster does most is entice you, leaving you itching to know what’s behind those hotel doors, and what secrets lie within its hallways. Anderson gives you much to ogle with the image as it stands (including, yes, an impressive ensemble of actors), but he seems to deliberately keep the Grand Budapest doors shut, beckoning you to see the film—or, at least, investigate further—in order to get the full scoop. Enter the Grand Budapest Hotel trailer, which dropped this morning and gives you far more clues about the goings-on of this characteristically idiosyncratic resort. Hinging his story, once again, on a youth embodied by an unknown actor (Tony Revolori plays a “junior lobby boy” named Zero), Anderson presents “an American Empirical Picture,” whose inciting incident seems to be the death of a grand dame played by Tilda Swinton—a death that links back to the hotelier, Gustav H (Ralph Fiennes). Familiar faces continue to pop up, including Edward Norton as an apparent search-party organizer directly reflective of his Moonrise Kingdom character, as well as new ones, like Saoirse Ronan as Zero’s love interest, a girl with what looks like a face tattoo. The trailer’s embedded below. Get a load of it yourself. But it must be said that, like the poster, the clip is faithful to its maker’s style while standing out amid this redundancy-filled industry. It’s beautifully composed (natch), but it’s also the funniest preview for a comedy in some time. Where else can you watch Willem Dafoe punch your pint-sized protagonist?