"Our guests know their deepest secrets—some of which are frankly unseemly—will go with us to our graves. So keep your mouth shut, Zero."
Zero is the new lobby boy at the Grand Budapest Hotel, and Gustave is training him in the highest levels of service for their guests. Indeed, there is no greater service than to keep the guests' secrets. No one knows this more than Gustave, who seems to be having affairs with most of them.
"The requirements were always the same. They had to be rich, old, insecure, vain, superficial, blonde and needy."
Mr. Moustafa says this to the Author in regards to Gustave's choice of women with whom he had affairs at the Grand Budapest. Gustave was an opportunistic man, after women's hearts and their money.
"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."
After being manhandled by soldiers on the train, Officer Henckels lets Gustave and Zero go free because he knows Gustave from staying at the Grand Budapest with his parents as a child. After being treated rudely by the other inspectors, Gustave speaks to Zero about the goodness in the world. He relates it to their job at the hotel, suggesting that an attention to fine service and meticulous detail is important not only in the hotel business, but in civilization at large. He then interrupts his own high minded meditation with a simple "fuck it."
"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."
Gustave says this to the corpse of Madame D. in her coffin. It shows his affection for the old woman, but more importantly, it comically highlights his foppish vanity. Instead of speaking to the "soul" of Madame D. of loftier matters, he admires how good she looks, and rather amusingly, wants to know what kind of cream they used on her skin to make her look so young. Even in moments of seriousness, Gustave is relentlessly vain.
"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."
When the Author asks Mr. Moustafa why he keeps the hotel, he suggests that perhaps it is because of his desire to stay connected to Gustave's old-world sensibilities, but Mr. Moustafa responds by saying this. He details that he keeps the hotel in order to honor his love for his late wife Agatha. As for Gustave's "old world" sensibilities, his attention to detail and the finer things, Mr. Moustafa suspects that those things had already fallen out of style by the time Gustave was the concierge, and that Gustave's strengths were in keeping up an illusion, an illusion in which Mr. Moustafa participated.
"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."
This monologue represents a comedic juxtaposition between Gustave's effeminacy and the tawdry world of prison to which he has been exiled. While Zero notices that Gustave looks beat up and suspects this is because Gustave is having a hard time fitting in in the world of prison, Gustave informs him that he is actually doing just fine, and getting in touch with his tough side. The humor lies in the contrast between the fights that Gustave is narrating, and Gustave's retention of his rather proper and effete affect. Who calls someone they got in a prison fight with their "dear friend"?
"Rudeness is merely an 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."
Gustave says this in a speech to the hotel staff. As they are all assembled, he gives them some words of wisdom about the service industry, which also, incidentally, serves as good advice for social engagements in general. His point is that if one treats someone with respect and love, they will "open up like a flower." As a concierge, he finds that if he gives people what they want (which is almost always love and attention), they become much less rude and better behaved.
"Did he just throw my cat out of the window?"
At the end of Dmitri's meeting with Kovacs, Dmitri is upset to find that Kovacs is not complying with his wishes. In retaliation, Dmitri's henchman Jopling throws Kovacs' cat out the window to its death. It is a shocking moment, but the violence is diffused by this deadpan and straightforward line. This line is a perfect example of the wry humor typically found in Wes Anderson's films. Instead of being appalled and shocked in the moment that Jopling throws the cat out the window, Kovacs takes a moment to register what just happened, before asking a question he already knows the answer to.
"I go to bed with all my friends."
When Dmitri confronts Gustave during the reading of Madame D.'s will, he accuses Gustave of being sexually promiscuous, alluding to his ambiguous sexuality and his alleged affairs with older women. Rather than deny or confirm, Gustave suavely says this line, suggesting that to him, sex is simply a way of showing love and affection, and he is unashamed. This moment shows Gustave's liberated approach to sexuality and his straightforward remorselessness about his less socially acceptable habits.
"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..."
This quote, uttered by the Author, is as much a statement about writing as it is a prophesy about how the film will unfold. He suggests that writing is less about actively going and looking for a story than it is about being patient and letting the story come to you. The author, indeed, is a rather passive observer, and his story seems to arrive in his lap when Mr. Moustafa asks him to dinner. Likewise, the young Zero is also a kind of author, an observer to whom exciting adventures just seem to happen.
The Grand Budapest Hotel Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for The Grand Budapest Hotel is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.