Wes Anderson Interview Looks Inside The Grand Budapest Hotel

Could you talk about working in the 1.33 ratio? Is it something you would encourage to young filmmakers?

I just think it’s something we couldn’t really do before. Now that everything’s digital, you just sort of can do what you want. For years, I wanted to do a movie, probably like a lot filmmakers wanted to do a movie, in the “Academy Ratio,” which is more or less a square, which is what every movie was up until a certain time in the ‘50s. But it was not possible—I mean, you could project it in a museum or in a revival house, but you couldn’t release a movie in multiplexes and things, because they have to adjust the projection to a degree—they don’t even have the equipment—so, you’d be faced with this tremendous cost and logistics, and it just didn’t happen. But now that it’s digital, somebody can just push a button, and the thing goes the way you told them to. So, it’s really pretty simple. We shot each aspect ratio like we were making a movie that way, and then I made a couple of choices about how to present it. Like the cards at the beginning are at 1.85, a very normal ratio, and the movie itself is 1.85. But then the first scenes are in a smaller version of 1.85 that has black around all sides, and then it goes into something like cinemascope and there’s black on the tops and bottoms, and only when we go into the ‘30s does it go into the full height of the frame. My thought being that we could feel it get bigger vertically, not just smaller sideways. But we loved shooting in the Academy Ratio. It was sort of like TV shows up until probably after 2000, or probably until five or six years ago, were done that way. But other than that, movies haven’t been done that way in years, and it’s a great shape.

Which actors from the golden age of cinema do you imagine having fun in your films?

One actor that I really love and that I haven’t known for very long is Joan Blondell. This is one who I really didn’t know anything about. I must have seen her in some James Cagney movie or other at some point, but in the last months, I’ve seen her in 10 different movies or something, because I’ve been watching these pre-code movies, and she’s a great, great actor. Also, during that time, there are so many movies that are for women. That’s who the stars of these movies are. Even in the ensemble movies, like Three on a Match, there’s three main characters who are all women. I guess other ones I love from that same time period are Barbara Stanwyck, and Jimmy Cagney is a great one, and Joan Crawford. Stanwyck and Crawford are two of the biggest stars of that period doing some of their best work.

Why do you think there is very little originality or imagination in American cinema these days?

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