Welcome to The Queue — your daily distraction of curated video content sourced from across the web. Today, we’re watching a video about how a scene from Alfred Hitchcock’s Torn Curtain influenced Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel.
There is a difference between homage and plagiarism, between paying dues to preexisting work and attempting to pass it off as your own. Even when homage is bad, it still isn’t stealing. A cheap visual reference may cash in on an audience’s nostalgia in a lowly and uninspired way, but idea thievery is something else entirely.
That said, the same metric to assess the presence of plagiarism is actually a pretty effective tool for sussing out what makes one homage “artful” and another one “lazy.” Quite simply: does it transform the work? Does it inflect the source material in some new, exciting, or unexpected way? Has it been shifted and made new in a different context?
The video essay below offers a case study in what makes a blatant recreation an inspired homage rather than a rip-off or an instance of theft. The case at hand is a sequence from Wes Anderson‘s The Grand Budapest Hotel, wherein Deputy Kovacs (Jeff Goldblum), the attorney representing the estate of the late Madame D (Tilda Swinton), is stalked and murdered by J.G. Jopling (Willem Dafoe).
The video outlines in detail how the scene emulates and basically re-creates a sequence from 1966 Alfred Hitchcock film Torn Curtain in which Michael Armstrong (Paul Newman) is similarly pursued. However, by imposing his own personal visual style, re-timing the pursuit, and inserting a score, Anderson succeeds in weaving something distinct that still bears recognizable connective threads to its source material. As a result, Anderson is able to play with audience expectations with exciting (if grisly) results.
Watch “How To Steal Like Wes Anderson – The Grand Budapest Hotel“:
Who made this?
This video essay was created by Virginia-based filmmaker and video editor Thomas Flight, who runs a YouTube channel under the same name. You can follow Flight and check out his back catalog of video essays on YouTube here. You can follow him on Twitter here.
More Videos Like This
- Another taste of the work of Thomas Flight: “How Chaplin Made Me Less Anxious in 8 Seconds“.
- And other, on how HBO’s Chernobyl is a masterclass in perspective
- Okay, one more (this is also on Wes Anderson): a look at Anderson’s work before the things that are now stereotypically considered Wes Anderson were present
- Here’s a video essay from The Discarded Image exploring how Wes Anderson’s comedic stylings hone in on the theme of formality
- A behind-the-scenes featurette on The Grand Budapest Hotel (effectively a clip montage of everyone involved having the time of their lives)
- Here’s a video essay that clarifies the importance of a script breakdown with a look at The Grand Budapest Hotel
- From Queue favorite BREADSWORD: a love letter to Wes Anderson’s The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou