On the 11th of November 2016, myself, Lydia and James (two fellow students) decided to go and see a showing of The Grand Budapest Hotel in the Belfast Movie House on the Dublin Road, with a special talk given by the head designer on the film, Annie Atkins.
I have always been a huge enthusiast of Wes Anderson’s style and was excited to hear about how the worlds were created in his movies through a graphic designer’s lens.
Before the movie was shown, Annie spoke about how Wes wanted the prop design to be almost like a character in itself – that it was essential in the storytelling process of The Grand Budapest Hotel. She also commented how not only in this movie, but in her work in general, she lives by a rule that if something was made by hand at the time, she would make it by hand too. And if it was made by a machine at the time, she would make it by machine also. Her dedication to creating authentic props and typography inspired me to not be afraid to utilise the old and the new in my animation projects.
Hearing Annie speak about the movie from a very visual standpoint made me think about the importance of visuals in animation and the many possibilities. I couldn’t wait to see how the props of the movie (a majorly overlooked part of film), could make such an impact on the story in The Grand Budapest Hotel.
I caught myself taking notes throughout different parts of the movie; fascinated by the way Wes approached the making of the film. I found certain recurring stylistic motifs; how the characters almost never walked away from the camera, but always towards it. In addition, the emphasis on screen on both characters and props was almost balanced.
As always, the highly saturated hues on screen, mixed with quirky music added to the magic of Wes Anderson’s creation. There’s something very dreamy and childlike about his work but it still somehow manages to create a sense of realism.
All in all, I really enjoyed the film and Wes’ work has continued to influence my own artistic style enormously.
This is just a short video about Annie and her work: