Australian Council on Children and the Media

Grand Budapest Hotel

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Not recommended under 15 (Violence; Sexual references; Coarse language)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Grand Budapest Hotel
  • a review of Grand Budapest Hotel completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 15 April 2014.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 15 Not recommended due to violence, sexual references and coarse language
Children 15 and over OK for this age group

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Grand Budapest Hotel
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Violence, sexual references, nudity and coarse language
Length 100 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

The story of the Grand Budapest Hotel is told by an author (played by both Jude Law and Tom Wilkinson), who has written the story as told to him by the ageing Zero Moustafa (F Murray Abraham).In 1932, when the story begins, teenager Zero Moustafa (Tony Revolori) starts work as lobby boy at the hotel in the snow covered mountains of the fictional country, Zubrowkan.

Zero is taken under the wing of the hotel’s legendary concierge Monsieur Gustave H. (Ralph Fiennes), the man responsible for absolutely everything that occurs at the hotel. Gustave’s real speciality lies in catering to the whims of the hotel’s older love-starved widows. One such widow is the elderly dowager the Countess Madame D. (Tilda Swinton), who has grave fears that her life is under threat.

Under Gustave’s careful supervision, Zero soon learns the ropes and becomes indispensable to Gustave. Zero also meets the love of his life, Agatha (Saoirse Ronan), a baker at the Mendl’s pastry shop.

When the Countess is found murdered, and Gustave is bequeathed a priceless painting “Boy with Apple” he suddenly finds himself conspired against by the Countess’s family, in particular her son Dmitri(Adrian Brody).  As a result, Gustave is arrested for the Countess’s murder and sent to prison. Not believing that he will be given a fair trial, Gustave - with the assistance of Zero and Agatha, and a number of fellow prisoners - escapes.

Gustave and Zero are now on the run both from the authorities and Dmitri’s murderous henchman J. G. Jopling (Willem Dafoe). Facing a dire situation, Gustave puts out an emergency call to his fellow hotel concierges, who arrange a rescue and escape, with the pair setting off to find the evidence needed to clear Gustave’s name.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Friendship and loyalty; murder; war.

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

The film contains violence scattered throughout. Most of the violence depicted has a comical intent with a cartoonish feel. However, at the same time, some of the violence depicted in the film is brutal and realistic with some blood and core. Examples include: 

  • Soldiers enter a train compartment occupied by Gustave and Zero, Gustave verbally insults the soldiers who then attempt to arrest Gustave and Zero, slamming them face first into the wall of the train carriage, giving both bloody noses. .
  • One man threatens another man saying “I will cut your throat”.
  • Zero tells how his entire family was murdered by police during a war in his country how he was arrested and tortured by police and placed in an internment camp. 
  • We hear that a woman has died as a result of being poisoned and see her dead body lying on the floor.
  • While in prison Gustave appears with two black eyes, cuts and bruising. He says that he was in a fight with other prisoners to prove himself and that his attackers are now his friends.
  • A man stands in an open doorway of a museum with his hand resting on the doorframe, a second unseen man slams the door shut and we hear the first man scream out in pain and see four bloody severed fingers lying on the ground.
  • During a prison break-out, one of the escaping prisoners kills another inmate by grabbing him by the neck and strangling him; we hear the sound of neck bones braking. One of the prisoners, wielding a knife, jumps through a trap door and attacks six guards – we hear the guards shouting and screaming out in pain. The next image we see is the prisoner lying on top of five dead and bloody prison guards, repeatedly and brutally stabbing a sixth guard in the chest while the sixth guard simultaneously stabs him until they are both lying dead and covered in blood.
  • A new paper headline reads “Local girl’s head found in laundry basket” and we see a woman’s severed head lifted from a basket; the head has open staring eyes and blood where the neck has been severed.          
  • One scene depicts an exchange of gunfire between two groups of soldiers in a hotel hallway; no one is injured.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • Dmitri’s henchman, Jopling, has a disturbing, threatening appearance with pointed lower teeth and knuckle dusters in the shape of skulls.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes and scary visual images, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged five to eight, including the following:

  • To intimidate its owner, a cat is thrown out of an upper story apartment. The cat yowls as it is thrown and we see its flattened dead body in a pool of blood on the pavement below. A short time later we see the owner of the dead cat carrying a bag containing the dead cat’s body and dumping it in a rubbish bin. 

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by the scenes described above.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Younger children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by some of the scenes described above.

Product placement

None of concern

Sexual references

The film contains sexual references and innuendo scattered throughout. Examples include:

  • Gustave says that the women he offers sexual comfort to have to be rich, old and insecure.
  • Gustave infers that he had sex with a woman who was eighty four-years old and that she was “great in the sack”
  • An army captain makes reference to Gustave saying “Your concierge was very kind to me when I was a little boy”
  • A man refers to Gustave as a “fucking fagot” and a “goddamn little fruit” with the man saying that Gustave probably “fucks them too” - inferring Zero and another man.
  • A reference made to spending money on whores and whisky. 

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • In a comical scene we see a naked man from the back being hosed down.
  • A brief image of a man standing wearing a robe pulled back to reveal his naked chest with the head of an elderly woman in front of the man’s genital area – suggesting oral sex.
  • We see an elderly woman sitting in a bed, she is nude and we see her breasts, torso and shoulders while her legs are beneath the bed covers. A man wearing a robe is sitting next to her.     
  • The picture which Gustave inherits is replaced by a pen and ink drawing of two naked women in a sexual embrace with genitals exposed.    
  • Old style (1940’s) black and white photos of naked women on the wall of a prison cell.
  • In one scene we see Zero and Agatha sitting in the balcony of a movie theatre. Zero asks Agatha if she will marry him, she says yes and they begin to remove clothing in a frenzied manner, at which point the scene ends.

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • In several scenes people are depicted smoking cigarettes and pipes.
  • Social drinking is depicted throughout the film including the consumption of cocktails, wine, sherry, champagne and whisky; no intoxication is depicted. 

Coarse language

Coarse language, and name calling are scattered throughout the film: examples include:

  • the word 'fuck' is used more than a dozen times throughout the film in various contexts
  • shit; dear god; goddamn; arseholes; savages; filthy pock marked fascists; faggot; candy arse; little prick; bitch.   

In a nutshell

Grand Budapest Hotel is a clever and quirky comedy with a star-studded cast. It is recommended viewing for older adolescents and adults. The film’s violence, which is at times surprisingly brutal for an M rated film, the frequent coarse language and some of the sexual references make it unsuitable for younger teens, so it is not recommended for under 15s.        

The main messages from this movie are:

  • Loyalty is to be regarded as a highly prized value.
  • Memories can at times be painful, but are also highly prized and worth holding onto. 

 Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • Loyalty and perseverance through adversity as displayed by Gustave and Zero.

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