It is an extremely common mistake, people think the writer's imagination is always at work, that he's constantly inventing an endless supply of incidents and episodes, that he simply dreams up his stories out of thin air.
In point of fact, the opposite is true.
Once the public knows you're a writer, they bring the characters and events to you and as long as you maintain your ability to look and to carefully listen, these stories will continue to...
Stop it. Stop it! Don't! Don't do it!
Will continue to seek you out over your lifetime.
To him who has often told the tales of others, many tales will be told.
Sorry. It's all right.
The incidents that follow were described to me exactly as I present them here and in a wholly unexpected way.
A number of years ago, while suffering from a mild case of "Scribe's Fever," a form of neurasthenia common among the intelligentsia of that time, I decided to spend the month of August in the spa town of Nebelsbad below the Alpine Sudetenwaltz, and had taken up rooms in the Grand Budapest, a picturesque, elaborate, and once widely celebrated establishment.
I expect some of you will know it.
It was off season and, by that time, decidedly out of fashion, and it had already begun its descent into shabbiness and eventual demolition.
What few guests we were had quickly come to recognize one another by sight as the only living souls residing in the vast establishment, although I do not believe any acquaintance among our number had proceeded beyond the polite nods we exchanged as we passed in the Palm Court, in the Arabian baths, and onboard the Colonnade Funicular.
We were a very reserved group, it seemed, and, without exception, solitary.
Perhaps as a result of this general silence, I had established a casual and bantering familiarity with the hotel's concierge, a West-continental known only as Monsieur Jean, who struck one as being, at once, both lazy and, really, quite accommodating.
I expect he was not well paid.
In any case, one evening, as I stood conferring elbow-to-elbow with Monsieur Jean, as had become my habit, I noticed a new presence in our company.
A small, elderly man, smartly dressed, with an exceptionally lively, intelligent face and an immediately perceptible air of sadness.
He was, like the rest of us, alone, but also, I must say, he was the first that struck one as being deeply and truly lonely.
A symptom of my own medical condition as well.
Who's this interesting old fellow?
I inquired of Monsieur Jean.
To my surprise, he was distinctly taken aback.
Don't you know? He asked.
Don't you recognize him?
He did look familiar.
That's Mr. Moustafa himself. He arrived earlier this morning.
This name will no doubt be familiar to the more seasoned persons among you.
Mr. Zero Moustafa was at one time the richest man in Zubrowka, and was still indeed the owner of the Grand Budapest.
He often comes and stays a week or more, three times a year at least, but never in the season.
Monsieur Jean signaled to me and I leaned closer.
I'll tell you a secret.
He takes only a single-bed sleeping room without a bath in the rear corner of the top floor and it's smaller than the service elevator!
It was well known, Zero Moustafa had purchased and famously inhabited some of the most lavish castles and palazzos on the continent.
Yet here, in his own nearly empty hotel, he occupied a servant's quarters?
At that moment, the curtain rose on a parenthetical, domestic drama...
Shit. which required the immediate and complete attention of Monsieur Jean, but, frankly, did not hold mine for long.
However, this premature intermission in the story of the curious, old man had left me, as the expression goes, "gespannt wie ein Flitzebogen," that is, on the edge of my seat, where I remained throughout the next morning, until, in what I have found to be its mysterious and utterly reliable fashion, fate, once again, intervened on my behalf.
I admire your work.
I beg your pardon?
I said, I know and admire your wonderful work.
Thank you most kindly, sir.
Did Monsieur Jean have a word or two to share with you about the aged proprietor of this establishment?
I must confess, I did myself inquire about you.
He's perfectly capable, of course, Monsieur Jean but we can't claim he's a first, or, in earnest, even second-rate concierge.
But there it is.
Times have changed.
The thermal baths are very beautiful.
They were in their first condition. It couldn't be maintained, of course.
Too decadent for current tastes.
But I love it all just the same, this enchanting old ruin.
How did you come to buy it, if I may ask?
The Grand Budapest.
If you're not merely being polite, and you must tell me if that's the case, but if it genuinely does interest you, may I invite you to dine with me tonight, and it will be my pleasure and, indeed, my privilege to tell you
"my story." Such as it is.
Two ducks roasted with olives.
Pouilly-Jouvet '52, plus a split of the brut.
That should provide us ample time if I commence promptly. By all means.
Well, it begins, as it must, with our mutual friend's predecessor.
The beloved, original concierge of The Grand Budapest.
It begins, of course, with...
Bring the table to the window. Yes, Monsieur Gustave.
Bring the tray to the table. Right away, Monsieur Gustave.
Right there. Have those been brushed and blocked?
Of course, Monsieur Gustave. Pack them in the hat boxes.
Is that from Oberstdorf & Company? I believe so, Monsieur Gustave.
Second trunk. Who has the tickets? I do, Monsieur Gustave.
Give them to me.
These are in order. Wait in the corner.
I'm not leaving. I beg your pardon?
I'm not leaving. Why not?
I'm frightened. Of what?
I fear this may be the last time we ever see each other.
Why on earth would that be the case?
Well, I can't put it into words, but I feel it.
For goodness sake, there's no reason for you to leave us if you'd...
Come with me. To fucking Lutz?
Please. Give me your hand.
You've nothing to fear. You're always anxious before you travel.
I admit, you appear to be suffering a more acute attack on this occasion.
But, truly and honestly... Oh, dear God. What have you done to your fingernails?
I beg your pardon? This diabolical varnish.
The color is completely wrong. Don't you like it?
It's not that I don't like it. I am physically repulsed.
Perhaps this will soothe you. What? Don't recite.
Just listen to the words. Hush. Please. Not now.
"While questing once in noble wood of gray, medieval pine, "I came upon a tomb, rain-slick'd, rubbed-cool, ethereal, "'its inscription long-vanished, "yet still within its melancholy fissures..."
Will you light a candle for me, please?
In the sacristy of Santa Maria? I'll see to it myself immediately.
Remember, I'm always with you.
I love you. I love you.
It's quite a thing winning the loyalty of a woman like that for 19 consecutive seasons.
Yes, sir. She's very fond of me, you know.
But I've never seen her like that before.
She was shaking like a shitting dog.
Run to the cathedral of Santa Maria in Brucknerplatz.
Buy one of the plain, half-length candles and take back four Klubecks in change.
Light it in the sacristy, say a brief rosary then go to Mendl's and get me a courtesan au chocolat.
If there's any money left, give it to the crippled shoe-shine boy.
Right away, sir. Hold it.
Who are you? I'm Zero, sir. The new Lobby Boy.
Zero, you say? Yes, sir.
I've never heard of you, never laid eyes on you. Who hired you?
Mr. Mosher, sir. Mr. Mosher!
Yes, Monsieur Gustave?
Am I to understand you've surreptitiously hired this young man in the position of a Lobby Boy?
He's been engaged for a trial period, pending your approval, of course.
Perhaps, yes. Thank you, Mr. Mosher.
You're most welcome, Monsieur Gustave.
You're now going to be officially interviewed.
Should I go and light the candle first, sir?
Hotel Kinski, Kitchen Boy, six months.
Hotel Berlitz, Mop and Broom Boy, three months.
Before that I was a Skillet Scrubber... Experience, zero.
Thank you again, Monsieur Gustave. Straighten that cap, Anatole.
The pleasure's mine, Herr Schneider. The strap's busted.
These are not acceptable. I fully agree.
Education? I studied reading and spelling.
I started my primary school. I almost...
Education, zero. Now it's exploded.
Good morning, Cicero. Call the goddamn plumber!
This afternoon, Monsieur Gustave? Without fail, Frau Liebling.
What in hell is this? Not now.
Why do you want to be a Lobby Boy?
Well, who wouldn't, at the Grand Budapest, sir?
It's an institution.
A thousand Klubecks. My goodness.
Were you ever a Lobby Boy, sir?
What do you think?
Well, I suppose you'd have to start somewhere...
Go and light the goddamn candle. Yes, sir.
And so, my life began.
Junior Lobby Boy in-training, Grand Budapest Hotel, under the strict command of Monsieur Gustave H.
I became his pupil, and he was to be my counselor and guardian.
What is a Lobby Boy?
A Lobby Boy's completely invisible, yet always in sight.
A Lobby Boy remembers what people hate.
A Lobby Boy anticipates the client's needs before the needs are needed.
A Lobby Boy is, above all, discreet to a fault.
Our guests know their deepest secrets, some of which are, frankly, rather unseemly, will go with us to our graves.
So keep your mouth shut, Zero. Yes, sir.
That's all for now.
I began to realize that many of the hotel's most valued and distinguished guests came for him.
It seemed to be an essential part of his duties, but I believe it was also his pleasure.
The requirements were always the same.
They had to be rich, old, insecure, vain, superficial, blonde, needy.
Because they all were.
He was, by the way, the most liberally perfumed man I had ever encountered.
The scent announced his approach from a great distance and lingered for many minutes after he was gone.
I worked six days each week plus a half-day Sunday, 5:00 AM until just after midnight.
Our meals were small but frequent, for stamina.
Two breakfasts, two lunches and a late supper.
Monsieur Gustave also delivered a nightly sermon.
Rudeness is merely the expression of fear.
People fear they won't get what they want.
The most dreadful and unattractive person only needs to be loved, and they will open up like a flower.
I am reminded of a verse, "The painter's brush touched the inchoate face
"by ends of nimble bristles
"and with their blush of first color, rendered her lifeless cheek living."
His own dinner, he took alone in his room.
The identity of the owner of the hotel was unknown to all of us.
Each month, his emissary, known as Deputy Kovacs, arrived to review the books and convey messages on behalf of the mysterious proprietor.
On these occasions, Monsieur Gustave and our business manager, Herr Becker, met with him in private consultation above Reception.
This was also when I met Agatha,
but we won't discuss that.
What do you want? Look.
I'm terribly sorry, sir.
We must go to her. We must?
Tout de suite. She needs me, and I need you to help me with my bags and so on.
How fast can you pack? Five minutes.
Do it. And bring a bottle of the Pouilly-Jouvet '26 in an ice bucket with two glasses so we don't have to drink the cat piss they serve in the dining car.
I blame myself.
She tried to tell me she had a premonition. I didn't listen.
All of Lutz will be dressed in black, except her own ghastly, deceitful children whom she loathed and couldn't bear to kiss hello.
They'll be dancing like gypsies.
There's really no point in doing anything in life, because it's all over in the blink of an eye...
And, the next thing you know, rigor mortis sets in.
Oh, how the good die young.
With any luck, she's left a few Klubecks for your old friend, but one never knows until the ink is dry on the death certificate.
She was dynamite in the sack, by the way.
She was 84, Monsieur Gustave.
I've had older.
When you're young, it's all fillet steak, but as the years go by, you have to move on to the cheaper cuts, which is fine with me, because I like those.
More flavorful, or so they say.
Why are we stopping at a barley field?
Well, hello there, chaps.
It's not a very flattering portrait, I'm afraid.
I was once considered a great beauty.
What does the "F" stand for? Fritz? Franz?
Franz. I knew it!
He's making a funny face.
That's a Migratory Visa with Stage Three Worker Status, Franz, darling.
He's with me.
Come outside, please.
Now, wait a minute. Sit down, Zero. His papers are in order.
I cross-referenced them myself with the Bureau of Labor and Servitude.
You can't arrest him simply because he's a bloody immigrant.
He hasn't done anything wrong.
Stop it, damn you!
Never mind, Monsieur Gustave! Let them proceed!
Ow! That hurts!
You filthy, goddamn, pock-marked, fascist assholes!
Take your hands off my Lobby Boy!
What's the problem?
This is outrageous.
The young man works for me at the Grand Budapest Hotel in Nebelsbad.
My name is Henckels.
I'm the son of Dr. and Mrs. Wolfgang Henckels-Bergersdofer.
Do you remember me?
I know exactly who you are. It's uncanny. You're little Albert.
I'm terribly embarrassed. Release them.
Your colleague is stateless.
He'll need to apply for a revised Special Transit Permit, which at this point may be very difficult to acquire.
It's temporary but it's the best I can offer, I'm afraid.
And how's your wonderful mother?
She's very well, thank you. I adore her.
Send my love. I will.
Your companion was very kind to me when I was a lonely little boy.
My men and I apologize for disturbing you.
I beg your pardon, sir.
You see? There are still faint glimmers of civilization left in this barbaric slaughterhouse that was once known as humanity.
Indeed, that's what we provide in our own modest, humble, insignificant...
Oh, fuck it.
Where is she, Clotilde? Take me to her.
You're looking so well, darling. You really are.
They've done a marvelous job.
I don't know what sort of cream they've put on you down at the morgue, but I want some.
Honestly, you look better than you have in years.
You look like you're alive.
Oh, you changed it after all. It's perfect.
Clotilde? Oui, Monsieur Gustave?
A glass of chilled water with no ice, please.
All right, then.
I shan't be long, darling.
We were escorted through a green baize door, down a narrow service corridor and into the butler's pantry.
A moment later, the kitchen passage swung open and a small servant dressed in white jolted into the room.
I've never forgotten the look on that man's face.
What the devil is going on?
I, myself, had never set foot inside a house of this kind in my life.
I understood very little about the events that were to follow.
But, eventually, I came to recognize, when the destiny of a great fortune is at stake, men's greed spreads like a poison in the bloodstream.
Uncles, nephews, cousins, in-laws of increasingly tenuous connection.
The old woman's most distant relations had come foraging out of the woodwork.
At the head of this congregation, it was a disorienting coincidence, we discovered our own Deputy Kovacs, himself an important attorney, of course.
He was the executor of the dead widow's estate.
This is Madame D's last will and testament.
It consists of a general tontine drawn up before the event of her husband's death 46 years ago, in combination with 635 amendments, notations, corrections, and letters of wishes executed during the subsequent decades.
The ultimate legality of this accumulation requires further analysis, but in the opinion of this office, it was Madame D's intention that control of the vast bulk of her estate should be transferred, forthwith, to her son, Dmitri, with special allowances for his sisters, Marguerite, Laetizia, and Carolina, and minor gifts for various members of the extended family as shown in the List of Recipients, which I will elucidate in due course.
An additional codicil, delivered into my possession by post only this morning, and, by all indications, sent by Madame D during the last hours of her life, contains an amendment to the original certificate, which, as prescribed by law, I will read to you now.
The authenticity of this document has not yet been confirmed by the presiding magistrate, so I ask that all parties be patient and refrain from comment until such time as our investigations can be completed.
"To my esteemed friend who comforted me in my later years
"and brought sunshine into the life of an old woman
"who thought that she would never be happy again.
"Monsieur Gustave H, "I bequeath, bestow and devise, free of all taxation
"and with full and absolute fiduciary entitlement, "the painting known as 'Boy with Apple...'"
Wow! "...by Johannes van Hoytl..."
I can't believe it. "...the younger..."
What? "which gave us both so much pleasure."
The van Hoytl?
Tax-free? Can she do that?
Who's Gustave H?
I'm afraid that's me, darling.
That fucking faggot!
He's a concierge. What are you doing here?
I've come to pay my respects to a great woman whom I loved.
This man is an intruder in my home! It's not yours yet, Dmitri.
Only when probate is granted, and the Deed of Entitlement...
You're not getting Boy with Apple, you goddamn little fruit!
How's that supposed to make me feel?
Call the police. We're pressing charges.
This criminal has plagued my family for nearly 20 years.
He's a ruthless adventurer and a con-artist who preys on mentally feeble, sick old ladies, and he probably fucks them, too!
I go to bed with all my friends.
What? She's dead. We're reading her will.
Oh, yes, yes, of course.
If I learn you ever once laid a finger on my mother's body, living or dead, I swear to God, I'll cut your throat! You hear me?
I thought I was supposed to be a fucking faggot.
You are, but you're bisexual. Let's change the subject.
That picture, Boy with Apple, is priceless. Understand?
Congratulations, Monsieur Gustave!
They're going to fight me for the son of a bitch.
Is it very beautiful? Beyond description.
"E'en the most gifted bard's rhyme can only sing
"but to the lack of her and all she isn't!
"His tongue doth..." Can I see it?
I don't see why not.
This is van Hoytl's exquisite portrayal of a beautiful boy on the cusp of manhood.
Blond, smooth. Skin as white as that milk.
Of impeccable provenance.
One of the last in private hands, and unquestionably, the best.
It's a masterpiece.
The rest of this shit is worthless junk.
What did you want to tell me, before?
I think I cannot say right now.
Write me tomorrow. Lutzbahn Station!
I'll never part with it.
It reminded her of me. It will remind me of her. Always.
I'll die with this picture above my bed.
See the resemblance?
Actually, we should sell it.
Sooner rather than later, in case they try to steal it back.
Plus, something about those lunatic foot-soldiers on the express...
This could be a tricky war and a long dry spell in the hotel trade.
For all we know, they could board us up tomorrow.
Let's make a solemn blood-pact.
We'll contact the black market and liquidate Boy with Apple by the end of the week, then leave the country and lay low somewhere along the Maltese Riviera until the troubles blow over and we resume our posts.
In exchange for your help, your loyalty and your services as my personal valet, I pledge to you 1.5% of the net sale price.
1.5? Plus room and board.
Could we make it 10? 10? Are you joking?
That's more than I'd pay an actual dealer, and you wouldn't know chiaroscuro from chicken giblets.
No, 1.5 is correct. But I'll tell you what, if I die first, and I most certainly will, you will be my sole heir.
There's not much in the kitty except a set of ivory-backed hairbrushes and my library of romantic poetry, but when the time comes, these will be yours, along with whatever we haven't already spent on whores and whiskey.
This is our sacred bond.
I'll draw it up right now.
I, Monsieur Gustave H, being of relatively sound mind and body, on this day, the 19th of October, in the year of our Lord 1932...
He never told me where he came from.
I never asked who his family had been.
The police are here. They asked for you.
Tell them I'll be right down.
Have you ever been questioned by the authorities?
Yes, on one occasion I was arrested and tortured by the rebel militia after the Desert Uprising.
You know the drill, then. Zip it. Of course.
You've never heard the word "van Hoytl" in your life. Okay, let's go.
How may we serve you, gentlemen?
Ah, Inspector Henckels.
"By order of the Commissioner of Police, Zubrowka Province, "I hereby place you under arrest for the murder
"of Madame Ceine Villeneuve Desgoffe und Taxis."
I knew there was something fishy. We never got the cause of death.
She's been murdered and you think I did it.
What happened, my dear Zero, is I beat the living shit out of a sniveling little runt called Pinky Bandinski who had the gall to question my virility, because if there's one thing we've learned from penny dreadfuls, it's that, when you find yourself in a place like this, you must never be a candy-ass.
You've got to prove yourself from Day One.
You've got to win their respect.
You should take a long look at his ugly mug this morning.
He's, actually, become a dear friend.
You'll meet him, I hope.
So. You've talked to Kovacs?
I saw him last night in secret.
He made me take an oath on a Bible I wouldn't tell a soul.
You're supposed to also. I'll do that later.
He suspects you're innocent. Of course he does.
What's the charge?
In the small hours of the evening of 19 October, an individual well-known to the house and staff, a Monsieur Gustave H, did arrive at the Desgoffe und Taxis residence in Lutz and entered by the rear service alley, alerting no one to his presence, and did then proceed by way of back stairs and servants' passage, to deliver himself into the private chambers of Madame D.
There is no evidence to indicate whether this visit had been pre-arranged with her or not.
The next morning Madame D was found dead by strychnine poisoning.
Monsieur Gustave was not observed on the premises again until, of course, 24 hours later.
The identity of his accusers is made clear in this notarized deposition.
They include, essentially, all members of the extended family, but the key witness who actually ostensibly saw the alleged events appears to have fled the jurisdiction.
His whereabouts are currently unknown, but he's being sought and pursued by the relevant authorities.
Who is he?
Serge? I'm afraid so.
That little prick.
No, I don't believe it. They put him up to it.
I've been dropped into a nest of vipers.
You have an alibi?
Of course, but she's married to the Duke of Westphalia.
I can't allow her name to get mixed-up in all this monkey business.
Your life may be at stake. I know, but the bitch legged it.
She's already onboard the Queen Nasstasja halfway to Dutch Tanganyika.
Don't give up.
The details of the conspiracy, now a matter of public record, were, at that time, impossible for us to apprehend.
I'm looking for Serge X, a young man in the service of my employer, the family Desgoffe und Taxis of Schloss Lutz.
Yes, sir? You're his sister?
Yes, sir. Seen him lately?
No, sir. No, sir?
I need to find him right away, for his own safety and everybody else's.
If he shows up...
Yes, sir? Tell him Jopling says, "Come home."
But one thing was certain, the Desgoffe und Taxis were a very powerful family,
and time was not on our side.
A letter from Monsieur Gustave. Zero.
You want me to? Read it.
"My dear and trusted colleagues..."
I miss you deeply as I write from the confines of my regrettable and preposterous incarceration.
Until I walk amongst you again as a free man, the Grand Budapest remains in your hands, as does its impeccable reputation.
Keep it spotless and glorify it.
Take extra special care of every little-bitty bit of it as if I were watching over you like a hawk with a horse whip in its talons, because I am.
Should I discover a lapse of any variety during my absence, I promise, swift and merciless justice will descend upon you.
A great and noble house has been placed under your protection.
Tell Zero if you see any funny business.
"Your devoted Monsieur Gustave."
Then there's a poem, but we might want to start on the soup since it's 46 stanzas.
"A moist, black ash dampens the filth of a dung-dark rat's nest
"and mingles with the thick scent of wood rot
"while the lark song of a guttersnipe..."
I never trusted that butler.
He's too honest. Too honest, you say?
Right, well, be that as it may, find him quick and make it snappy.
May I offer any of you inmates a plate of mush?
You with the very large scar on your face?
Try it. It's actually quite warm and nourishing this morning.
It needs a dash of salt.
Mush, gents? Any takers?
Rise and shine. Chop, chop.
Good morning, Pinky.
Mendl's again? Precisely.
Who's got the throat slitter?
Out of this world. Mendl's is the best.
Well, back to work. Monsieur Gustave?
Me and the boys talked it over.
We think you're a really straight fellow.
Well, I've never been accused of that before, but I appreciate the sentiment.
You're one of us now.
What a lovely thing to say.
Thank you, dear Pinky. Thank you, Günther.
Thank you, Wolf.
Tell him, Ludwig.
Checkpoint 19 ain't no two-bit hoosegow.
You got broad-gauge iron bars on every door, vent and window.
You got 72 guards on the floor and 16 more in the towers.
You got a 325-foot drop into a moat full of crocodiles.
But, like the best of them, it's got a soft spot, which in this case happens to take the form of a storm-drain sewer system dating from the time of the original rock fortification way back in the Middle Ages.
Now, nobody's saying it's a stroll down a tree-lined promenade with a fine lady and a white poodle, but it's got what you'd call "vulnerability," and that's our bread and butter.
Take a look.
Who drew this?
What do you mean, "Who drew this?" I did.
Very good. You've got a wonderful line, Ludwig.
This shows great artistic promise.
Question, how do you intend to penetrate this lowest rudiment?
It's 25 inches of reinforced granite masonry, is it not?
Digging with the throat-slitter, I expect this would take three to six months of continual effort, during which time several of our members will have been violently executed.
You hit the nail on the head, Mr. Gustave.
We got fake documents, second-hand street clothes, a rope ladder made of sticks and bunk-linens, but we need digging tools, which are proving hard to come by in this flop-house.
At this point in the story, the old man fell silent and pushed away his saddle of lamb.
His eyes went blank as two stones.
I could see he was in distress.
Are you ill, Mr. Moustafa? I finally asked.
Oh, dear me, no. He said.
It's only that I don't know how to proceed.
He was crying.
You see, I never speak of Agatha, because even at the thought of her name I'm unable to control my emotions.
Well, I suppose there's no way around it.
You see, she saved us.
On our third formal rendezvous, I had asked for her hand in marriage and she had agreed.
Will you marry me? Yes.
We did not have 50 Klubecks between the two of us.
No one knew, of course, but, then, who would have cared?
We were each completely on our own in the world, and we were deeply in love.
Here. Thank you.
It's a book. I see.
Romantic Poetry, Volume One.
Monsieur Gustave recommended it. I have a copy of my own as well.
I ruined the surprise, I suppose. I'll go ahead and open it, anyway.
Read the inscription.
Monsieur Gustave insisted on an immediate and thorough cross-examination...
She's charming. She's so charming. during which he presented Agatha with a porcelain pendant and five dozen individually tissue-wrapped white tulips in a box the size of a child's coffin.
It's not right. I beg your pardon?
Why is he sulking?
She's my girlfriend. You can't just buy her things.
I'm only interviewing this vision of loveliness on your behalf.
Never be jealous in this life, Zero, not even for an instant.
Is he flirting with you?
Yes. I approve of this union.
Agatha, my beauty, return to your beloved.
Soon we learned...
Blessings upon you both. not only was Agatha immensely skilled with a palette knife and a butter-cream flourish...
Mendl. Go. she was also very brave.
I believe she was born that way.
A crucial document, either misplaced or, conceivably, destroyed.
I don't know what it contains, I don't know what it represents, I don't know what it is, but there are traces and shadows of it everywhere.
Now, I don't want to alarm you, and I don't expect to see any significant change in the magistrate's ultimate decision vis-a-vis your own inheritance, but, especially given the circumstances of the death, as well as the disappearance of the key witness in the murder case, Serge X, I suggest that we immediately bring this matter to the attention of the municipal inspector so that there can be absolutely no question of impropriety at any future date.
Agreed? Not agreed.
Not agreed? Not agreed.
Can I ask you a question, Vilmos? Yes, Dmitri?
Who are you working for? I beg your pardon?
Who are you working for? I thought you're supposed to be our lawyer.
Well, in point of fact, I'm the executor of the estate.
In this particular situation, I represent the deceased.
Yeah. A provision for my fees was included in the...
Just wrap it up and don't make waves. Agreed?
I'm an attorney. I'm obligated to proceed according to the rule of law.
This stinks, sisters.
Did he just throw my cat out the window?
I don't think so.
No. Did he? Jopling?
There's something I haven't told you, Agatha.
Okay. We stole a painting.
It's very valuable, maybe five million Klubecks, in fact.
I don't know if anyone's even noticed it's missing yet, but if something should happen to me...
You steal art?
One picture. Anyway, we need to make a plan for your survival.
Hide this. It's in code and you might need a magnifying glass to read it, but it tells you exactly where and how to find Boy with Apple.
Don't take less than half the retail asking price. Also...
Zero, I'm a baker. You're a pastry chef.
I'm not a fence, if that's the term.
I don't trade in stolen property.
I said it wrong. She willed it to him.
Go to sleep.
Yes, Herr Mendl.
Hide this. No.
Okay, but take it anyway.
The next morning, Herr Becker received a peculiar, last-minute notice from the office of Deputy Kovacs, postponing their scheduled meeting, in perpetuity.
How did you get out there? Shut the fuck up.
These guys are trying to escape.
What's wrong with you, you goddamn snitch?
It's you. Thank you. Thank you, you sweet, kind man.
I suppose you'd call that a draw.
Let me introduce you. Pinky, Wolf, Ludwig, this is the divine Zero.
Günther was slain in the catacombs.
Well, boys, who knows when we'll all meet again, but if one day...
No time to gab.
Take care of yourself, Mr. Gustave.
Good luck, kid.
Which way to the safe house? I couldn't find one.
No safe house? Really? We're completely on our own out here?
I'm afraid so. I asked around, but...
I understand. Too risky. We'll just have to wing it, I suppose.
Let's put on our disguises.
We're wearing them. No, we're not.
We said false whiskers and fake noses and so on.
You didn't bring any? I thought you were growing one.
And it wouldn't look realistic, would it?
No, when done properly, they're perfectly convincing.
But I take your point. So be it.
Give me a few squirts of L'air de Panache, please, will you?
Can I not get a squirt, even? I forgot the L'air de Panache.
Honestly, you forgot the L'air de Panache?
I don't believe it. How could you?
I've been in jail, Zero! Do you understand how humiliating this is?
That's just marvelous, isn't it?
I suppose this is to be expected back in... Where do you come from again?
Aq Salim al-Jabat. Precisely.
I suppose this is to be expected back in Aq Salim al-Jabat where one's prized possessions are a stack of filthy carpets and a starving goat, and one sleeps behind a tent flap and survives on wild dates and scarabs.
But it's not how I trained you.
What on God's earth possessed you to leave the homeland where you obviously belong and travel unspeakable distances to become a penniless immigrant in a refined, highly-cultivated society that, quite frankly, could've gotten along very well without you?
Well, you see, my father was murdered and the rest of my family were executed by firing squad.
Our village was burned to the ground and those who managed to survive were forced to flee.
I left because of the war.
I see. So you're, actually, really more of a refugee, in that sense?
Well, I suppose I'd better take back everything I just said.
What a bloody idiot I am. Pathetic fool.
Goddamn, selfish bastard.
This is disgraceful, and it's beneath the standards of the Grand Budapest.
I apologize on behalf of the hotel.
It's not your fault. You were just upset I forgot the perfume.
Don't make excuses for me. I owe you my life.
You are my dear friend and protégé and I'm very proud of you.
You must know that.
I'm so sorry, Zero.
How's our darling Agatha?
"'Twas first light when I saw her face upon the heath, "and hence did I return, day-by-day, entranced, "tho' vinegar did brine my heart, never..."
Very good. I'm going to stop you there because the alarm has sounded, but remember where we left off because I insist you finish later.
I want roadblocks at every junction for 50km.
I want rail blocks at every train station for 100km.
I want 50 men and 10 bloodhounds ready in five minutes.
We're going to strip-search every pretzel-Haus, Waffel-hut, Biergarten and especially every grand hotel from Augenzburg to Zilchbrock.
These men are dangerous, professional criminals.
At least three of them are anyway.
Who are you?
What are you doing here? Civilian personnel aren't permitted in the cellblock.
This is a military investigation. This is Mr. Jopling, sir.
His employer's mother was one of the victims...
You work for the family Desgoffe und Taxis?
Are you aware of the murder of Deputy Vilmos Kovacs on 23rd October?
I'm aware of his disappearance.
His body was found stuffed in a sarcophagus behind a storage room at the Kunstmuseum late last night.
He was short four fingers.
What do you know about that? Nothing.
Escort Mr. Jopling off the premises.
Operator, get me the Excelsior Palace in Baden-Jurgen and reverse the charges, please.
We've no choice. There's nowhere else to turn.
I'll hold. Thank you.
It's our only hope. Otherwise, I shouldn't even mention its existence to you.
It goes without saying, never breathe a word about this to a living soul.
Do you swear? Of course. What is it, in fact?
I can't say.
How does one come by front-row aisle seats for a first night at the Opera Toscana with one day's notice?
How does one arrange a private viewing of the tapestry collection at the Royal Saxon Gallery?
How does one secure a corner table at Chez Dominique on a Thursday?
Ivan, darling, it's Gustave. Hello.
Well, I was until about five minutes ago.
We've taken it upon ourselves to clear out in a hurry if you see what I mean.
Well, through a sewer, as it happens. Exactly.
Listen, Ivan, I'm sorry to cut you off, but we're in a bit of a bind.
This is an official request.
I'm formally calling upon the special services of...
I'll call you back, Gustave.
Right. Stand by.
I beg your pardon. Do you prefer to walk?
We're right here. It's very simple.
Straight down the corniche, then left.
Jojo, see the gentleman out.
Get me Monsieur Georges at the Château Luxe, please.
Happy birthday to you Take over.
Happy birthday, dear...
Get me Monsieur Dino at the Palazzo Principessa, please.
Higher, goddammit, higher!
Monsieur Georges. Higher.
I see. Straightaway.
Get me Monsieur Robin at l'Hotel Cote du Cap, please. and two and three.
Monsieur Robin. There's a call from Monsieur Dino for you.
One, two, three. Yes, Dino.
Yes, Dino. Okay, Dino.
Get me Monsieur Martin at the Ritz Imperial, please.
Too much salt.
Not enough pepper.
- Robin? Martin. Too much salt.
So I've heard.
Maybe. Let me make a few calls.
Serge X, missing. Deputy Kovacs, also missing.
Madame D, dead. Boy with Apple, stolen, by us.
Dmitri and Jopling, ruthless, cold-blooded savages.
Gustave H, at large. What else?
Zero, confused. Zero, confused, indeed.
The plot "thickens," as they say.
Why, by the way? Is it a soup metaphor?
I don't know.
We found the butler.
He's hiding out in the remote foothills near Gabelmeister's Peak.
Our contact convinced him to meet you midday tomorrow at the observatory on the summit.
Tell no one. He'll explain everything.
Your train departs in four and a half minutes.
Here's your tickets.
Third class? It was overbooked but the conductor used to be a sommelier at the old Versailles.
He pulled some strings.
You'll need these for the dining car.
One last thing.
L'air de Panache.
They only had the half-ounce.
We should give him something as a symbolic gesture.
How much money you got? 42 Klubecks and 3 postage stamps.
Give me 25. Yes.
Bless you. Please.
I've got to hand it to him. Jesus Christ.
I didn't see that coming. Well, what do you want next?
Talk to the club-footed sister again, and, this time, be persuasive.
Goddamn son of a bitch.
What's the meaning of this shit?
Boy with Apple? I thought you'd hidden it.
Why are you only noticing now? I assumed it went to the tax appraiser.
Are you fucking kidding me?
I believe it was removed by Monsieur Gustave.
I'm not angry with Serge.
You can't blame someone for their basic lack of moral fiber.
He's a frightened, little, yellow-bellied coward.
It's not his fault, is it? I don't know. It depends.
Well, you can say that about most anything.
"It depends." Of course it depends.
Of course it depends. Of course it depends.
Yes, I suppose you're right. Of course it depends.
That doesn't mean I'm not going to throttle the little swamp rat.
May I officiate, by the way? The ceremony?
I must say, I find that girl utterly delightful.
Flat as a board, enormous birthmark the shape of Mexico over half her face, sweating for hours on end in that sweltering kitchen while Mendl, genius though he is, looms over her like a hulking gorilla.
Yet without question, without fail, always and invariably, she's exceedingly lovely.
Because of her purity.
She admires you as well, Monsieur Gustave.
Does she? Very much.
That's a good sign, you know. It means she "gets it."
Don't flirt with her.
A radio telegram was delivered and signed for by the girl at 4:00 AM.
The envelope was found near the body, but its contents were missing.
However, the telegraph office always keeps a carbon of the ticker tape for 24 hours.
I copied it down. It reads as follows, "Pack your things stop.
"Be ready to leave at moment's notice stop.
"Hide-out is vicinity of Gabelmeister's Peak stop.
"Destroy this message all my love full stop."
Where's the basket?
Where you headed, mister?
Skiing? Sledding? Mountain climbing?
By express wireless, I wrote Agatha with instructions to move to our pre-arranged hideout, a Gypsy caravan on the outer Nebelsbad road, while Monsieur Gustave and I continued east into the Zubrowkian Alps, toward our high-altitude rendezvous with the butler Serge X.
As a precaution, we disembarked quietly in the freight yard just outside the station.
L'air de Panache.
It's a hell of a view. I give them that, for what's it's worth.
"'Tis oft'-remarked, no single, falling-flake does any other
"in its pure and perfect form..." Somebody's coming.
Are you Monsieur Gustave of the Grand Budapest Hotel in Nebelsbad?
Uh-huh. Get on the next cable car.
Are you Monsieur Gustave of the Grand Budapest Hotel in Nebelsbad?
Uh-huh. Switch with me.
Are you Monsieur Gustave of the Grand Budapest Hotel in Nebelsbad?
Uh-huh. Put these on and sing.
Are you Monsieur Gustave of the... Yes, dammit.
Hmm? No, no.
Forgive me, Monsieur Gustave. I never meant to betray you.
They threatened my life and now they've murdered my only family.
No. Who did they kill this time?
My dear sister. The girl with the club foot?
Yes. Those fuckers!
I tried to warn you at the beginning.
I know, darling. Let's put that behind us.
Listen, I hate to put you on the spot, but I really must ask you to clear my name.
Obviously you're grieving... There's more.
To the story. I get it. Go on.
I was the official witness in Madame D's presence to the creation of a second will to be executed only in the event of her death by murder.
A second will? Right.
In case she got bumped off? Right.
Uh-huh? But they destroyed it.
Oh, dear. However...
Uh-huh? I pulled a copy.
A second copy of the second will?
What does it say? Where is it? What's it all about, dammit?
Don't keep us in suspense. This has been a complete fucking nightmare.
Just tell us what the fuck is going on!
Serge? Serge? Serge!
Bloody hell. They've strangled the poor slob.
Come on! Let's go!
What do we do if we catch him? I don't know.
He's a homicidal psychopath. Let's stop.
I can't. I can barely steer.
You sick, pathetic creep. I hate you.
"'If this do be me end, farewell!' cried the wounded piper-boy, "whilst the muskets cracked and the yeomen roared 'Hurrah!'
"And the ramparts fell.
"'Methinks me breathes me last, me fears!' said he..."
Holy shit! You got him!
Well done, Zero!
Gustave H! You are a fugitive from justice!
Surrender lawfully and I will personally vouchsafe your fair treatment.
Do not attempt to flee!
What do you think? I don't know.
I'd rather jump off this cliff right now than go back to fucking prison.
I say we steal that sick maniac's motorcycle, go fetch Agatha, take back Boy with Apple and head for the Maltese Riviera, once and for all.
Very good! You're so extraordinary, Zero. Thank you.
A moment of silence in memoriam of a devoted servant killed violently during the conduct of his duties.
Okay, let's go.
The war began at midnight.
Pffeifelstad fell by lunch under heavy shelling, and 10 battalions surged across the long western border.
High-command advanced to Nebelsbad.
Compliments of Herr Mendl, for the executive staff.
General Stieglitz requests a garden-view sitting room with an extra roll-away.
Let's put him in the Duke Leopold Suite.
Secretary Woroniecki's office cabled.
He's checking in a day early. Rooms 401-2-3.
Tell Tactical Logistics we're moving them to a standard double on the third floor.
They'll need more space than that.
The beginning of the end of the end of the beginning has begun.
A sad finale played off-key on a broken-down saloon piano in the outskirts of a forgotten ghost town.
I'd rather not bear witness to such blasphemy.
The Grand Budapest has become a troops' barracks.
I shall never cross its threshold again in my lifetime.
Me neither. Never again shall I...
Actually, I think we might be going in there right now after all.
Good evening, Mr. Desgoffe und Taxis. I'm Monsieur Chuck.
We've booked you and your sisters into the King Ferdinand Suite.
Good evening. General von Shrecker asked me...
Who's that? I beg your pardon?
I think that girl's got my picture. Excuse me.
Six. Hold it.
Compliments of Herr Mendl.
Have you seen a pastry girl with a package under her arm in the last minute and a half?
Yep. She just got on the elevator with Mr. Desgoffe und Taxis.
I'm sorry. Who are you?
Otto, sir, the new Lobby Boy. You haven't been trained properly.
A Lobby Boy never provides information of that kind.
You're a stone wall. Understood?
Where's Boy with Apple?
None of your goddamn business!
I'm going to blast your candy-ass once and for all right now.
Drop your weapon!
Cease fire! Cease fire! Whoa!
Who's shooting who?
That's Gustave H! The escaped murderer and art thief.
I've got him cornered!
That's Dmitri Desgoffe und Taxis!
He's responsible for the killing of Deputy Kovacs, Serge X and his club-footed sister, plus his own mother!
Nobody move. Everybody's under arrest.
Who's out the window?
Hang on! Here I come!
Something's on the back of the...
Are you all right? I think so.
Something's on the back of the picture.
She left everything to Monsieur Gustave, of course.
The mansion, known as Schloss Lutz, the factories, which produced weapons, medicine and textiles,
an important newspaper syndicate, and perhaps you've already deduced this very institution, the Grand Budapest Hotel.
He anointed me his successor, and as the war continued, I served my adopted country from the narrow desk still found against the wall in the next room.
He was the same as his disciples, insecure, vain, superficial, blond, needy.
In the end he was even rich.
He did not succeed, however, in growing old.
"Dearly beloved, we are gathered together..."
Nor did my darling Agatha.
She and our infant son would be killed two years later by the Prussian grippe. An absurd little disease.
Today we treat it in a single week, but, in those days many millions died.
On the 21st day of the occupation, the morning the independent state of Zubrowka officially ceased to exist, we traveled with Monsieur Gustave to Lutz.
In answer to your earlier question, by the way, of course.
Zero asked me about my humble beginnings in the hotel trade.
I was, perhaps, for a time, considered the best Lobby Boy we'd ever had at the Grand Budapest.
I think I can say that.
This one finally surpassed me.
Although, I must say, he had an exceptional teacher.
"Whence came these two radiant, celestial brothers, "united, for an instant, "as they crossed the stratosphere of our starry window?
"One from the East and one from the West."
Don't flirt with her.
Why are we stopping at a barley field again?
I find these black uniforms very drab.
Well, hello there, chaps. We were just talking about you.
Documents, please. With pleasure, as always.
You're the first of the official death squads to whom we've been formally introduced.
How do you do?
Plus Ã§a change, am I right?
That's a migratory visa with stage three worker status, darling.
Come outside. Now, stay there.
I give you my word, if you lay a finger on this man, I'll see you dishonorably discharged, locked up in the stockade and hanged by sundown.
There are still faint glimmers of civilization left in this barbaric slaughterhouse that was once known as humanity.
You filthy, goddamn, pock-marked, fascist assholes!
He was one of them.
What more is there to say?
What happened in the end?
In the end they shot him.
So it all went to me.
After dinner, we went to collect the keys to our rooms, but Monsieur Jean had abandoned his post.
I expect he's forgotten all about us.
In recent years, of course, such properties and holdings as the Grand Budapest had with very few exceptions become common property.
While the precise terms of his negotiation with the new government had never been announced, the result was an open secret, Zero Moustafa had traded a great and important fortune in exchange for one costly, unprofitable, doomed hotel.
Was it merely sentimental?
It was quite forward of me and a bit out of character, but I felt I must know, for my health, I suppose.
Forgive me for asking. I hope I haven't upset you.
No, of course not.
Is it simply your last connection to that vanished world, his world, if you will?
No, I don't think so.
You see, we shared a vocation.
It wouldn't have been necessary.
No. The hotel I keep for Agatha.
We were happy here.
For a little while.
To be frank, I think his world had vanished long before he ever entered it.
But, I will say, he certainly sustained the illusion with a marvelous grace.
Are you going up? No, I'll sit for a little while.
The next week, I sailed for a cure in South America and began a long, wandering journey abroad.
I did not return to Europe for many years.
It was an enchanting old ruin.
But I never managed