The iconic work of The Grand Budapest Hotel

To venture a (tiny) bit from my usual composition studies, I wanted to try and understand exactly what made the film, ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ such a highly awarded, iconic piece of cinematography today.

It seems that Wes Anderson is a big deal in cinematography these days XD. He’s iconic with his work, creating quirky, interesting films through an incredible use of colour, composition and cutting.

I started collating some screenshots of various scenes when after a short while, it hit me. The use of symmetry in this film is incredible.


Wes Anderson is known for his effective use of planemetric shots in many of his films, so much so that it’s become his main, iconic composition. When done correctly, the viewer is able to focus exactly on the object at hand.


Not only does his use of symmetry perfectly highlight the focal points of the shot in the middle, but his use of colours also helps draw the eye towards it as well.


The reason symmetry is effective in cinematography, is because it’s effective in real life. Take the golden ratio for a face. Humans find beauty in symmetry, it’s just mathematically pleasing to us to see it. So of course, scenes shot effectively with perfect symmetry are going to stand out to us for sure.


image004_1I’m more and more astounded at how incredible these stills are as I find them, I think I truly need to watch this movie. XD


So far as story goes, I’m not too sure how iconic this movie is for it. However, I know that one of its most noticeably incredible aspects is the meticulous compositional planning of Wes Anderson and his cinematographer, to create such shots that truly captivate the audience the whole time.

I hope that at some point I can use planimetric shots to try to make my own work stand out in an interesting, effective way. But for now, here is a compilation video by kogonoda, highlighting just how much Wes uses symmetry in his films.


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