Wesward Ho Travelling with an Auteur

From impossibly grand hotels and schlosses and moonrise kingdoms to dreamy bakeries and zany trains, here's where to go to see your favourite locations from Wes Anderson's films
Willem Dafoe's character marches into the Kunstmuseum, in real life Dresden's Zwinger Museum, in The Grand Budapest Hotel
Willem Dafoe's character marches into the Kunstmuseum, in real life Dresden's Zwinger Museum, in The Grand Budapest Hotel

I hope it hasn&rsquot been said earlier but I suppose it has Wes Anderson isn&rsquot the name of a person. It&rsquos the name of a feeling. An aesthetic. A phenomenon. A style. It&rsquos in the same paradigm as avant-garde or fin-de-siecle or dadaism. It has a whole colour theory to it. Its own version of the senses. And Wes is enough&mdashyou needn&rsquot wait for one to complete the name before you go, &lsquoAah, that,&rsquo your mind quickly resetting itself of its own accord like it does when a childhood friend arrives and starts talking in Morse. Soon enough, you wake up surrounded by Mendl&rsquos Bakery Boxes, the lighthouse from The Grand Budapest Hotel visible from your train window.

Suddenly, it feels like Wes Anderson season even though that might be akin to saying it feels like coffee season. A couple of weeks back, the founder of @accidentallywesanderson, Wally Koval came out with his book of the same name. An homage to the auteur&rsquos eccentric visual style and cinematography, the book is a collection of two hundred photographs of locations right out of a WA movie, all over the world. Then again, the director&rsquos much-anticipated next, The French Dispatch, has been due for the longest time. The film, set in Paris in the '50s, was shot in Angoul&ecircme in the west of France, a relatively obscure city known for its winding streets and old-style architecture.

It&rsquos festive season, too, and the colourful trinkets and tchotchkes of an Anderson film are what comes to mind. Those of you who do follow Koval&rsquos Instagram page are no strangers to places all over the world that weren&rsquot actually part of the films. What about the locations that did feature in WA&rsquos colourful tapestry Well, we tried and covered a few in our #tbt list. Here you go.

Moonrise Kingdom

Remember the iconic shot of Suzy looking at the world through her binocs This is where she stands during the shot. An iconic landmark on the New England coast, this lighthouse came up in 1810 but the present structure is from 1857. 

We know, it&rsquos tough to get over the pretty house of the Bishops (Bill Murray and Frances McDormands&rsquo family) with its adorable &rsquo60s fence and striped red-and-white awning. So, don&rsquot&mdashjust head to Conanicut Island near Jamestown in Rhode Island, and see the quaint red building for yourself. The Bishop home is actually the rear of the Conanicut Island Lighthouse.

Camp Ivanhoe, where the eccentric Sam lives as a boy scout under the leadership of Scout Master Ward played by Edward Norton, is actually Camp Yawgoog, also in Rhode Island. The real-life Yawgoog Scout Reservation is spread over 1,800 acres and is over a hundred years old. It&rsquos just a 40-minute drive away from Conanicut Island.

The Grand Budapest Hotel

The German town of Goerlitz in the state of Saxony has quite a few merits to its name and yet is one of the lesser-explored spots in Germany. It has the highest concentration of monuments in the country and has also seen quite a few film shoots, including that of The Book Thief, the Kate Winslet starrer The Reader and Quentin Tarantino&rsquos Inglorious Basterds. But Anderson has made the city his own in a way like no one else has.

The dreamy, Slavic schloss-like quality of the eponymous The Grand Budapest Hotel was created using miniature handmade models of the exterior of the hotels&mdashin keeping with his stop-animation style on his other projects&mdashand for the grand lobby, Anderson took over a department store built in the Art Nouveau style, called the Gorlitzer Warenhaus.

The exquisite elevators and staircases and the atrium of the building had convinced Anderson and his production team that their search had ended. Saxony also supplied the set for the mansion of Madame D (Tilda Swinton)&mdashSchloss Hainewalde becoming the exterior, and Schloss Waldenburg, the interiors.

The auteur is also known to have famously said that it was Prague, with its grand structures and historical antecedents, that he was actually channelling for the fictional Republic of Zubrowka. Elements such as the cultured fastidiousness of the lovable concierge Gustave H, played by Ralph Fiennes, the fuss over the painting Boy with the Apple, are most likely a nod to the high sensibility of the Czech capital.

The stylistic inspiration for the Grand Budapest came from another real-life hotel, the legendary Grandhotel Pupp in Karlovy Vary, the Czech Republic, which goes back to 1701. The Neo-Baroque fa&ccedilade of the hotel was borrowed in part for the exterior of the Grand Budapest. For the iconic Mendl&rsquos Bakery, the filmmaker chose the gorgeous Dresden creamery, Pfunds Molkerei, known for its beautiful hand-painted tiles and the fictional Courtesan au Chocolat.

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The Royal Tenenbaums

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Some believe the 2001 family dramedy to be Anderson&rsquos best film and be that as it may, it is just as quirky, colourful and just as much of a treat to the eye. The plot deals with an extremely dysfunctional family, and their memorable family home is located at 339 Convent Avenue in New York City. Constructed at the end of the 19th century, the 339 stands out for its dramatic conical tower and crow-stepped gables.

Hotel Chevalier

Starring Natalie Portman and Jason Schwartzman, the 2007 13-minute film might be a fanboy special, but not many know that one can actually visit the hotel room where the ex-lovers of the story reunite. Hotel Chevalier is actually Hotel Raphael, a five-star property in Paris that's five years short of a hundred years old. The hotel is a visual treat (duh, as if Wes Anderson shooting here wasn't enough) and is known for its elaborate wood carvings, murals and a beautiful stone facade.

Another well-known, ambitious film that Anderson helmed was The Darjeeling Limited, a feel-good comedy about three estranged brothers (played by Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody and Jason Schwartzman) travelling on an Indian train after the death of their father. The fictional epoynmous train was actually the Royal Rajasthan on Wheels, which was discontinued in 2017. One can still choose to have a similar experience aboard the luxurious Palace on Wheels. 

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