DCA Film Club 13: Hotel Chevalier

26 June 2020

Welcome to our weekly Film Club! We'll be recommending great films to watch at home, before meeting in our Facebook group or your preferred social media to chat about the film using #DCAFilmClub!

DCA Film Club sees our Cinema Team talk about our favourite filmmakers by looking at their short films. We hope they will inspire you to go off and watch something else, be it online or at a cinema near you (when it reopens of course). You can read our Head of Cinema Alice's full introduction to DCA Film Club here.

This week, Alice has chosen Wes Anderson's 2007 short Hotel Chevalier. Read on for Alice's introduction, then watch the film for free on YouTube. Enjoy!

Content warning: Hotel Chevalier contains swearing and mild nudity.

Wes Anderson is one of those directors people either love or hate.  His chocolate box style is full of intricate design detail and stories delivered with a unique blend of whimsy and deadpan humour often by a troupe of actors he loves to work with. If like me, you enjoy spending time in Anderson’s world, then you’ll know that his films are also full of warmth for his characters, who are sympathetic misfits just trying to make their way in the world. And those soundtracks!  

Anderson made the short Hotel Chevalier in 2007 well into his successful feature filmmaking career. He already had films like Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums and The Life Aquatic under his belt.  Self-financed (both Jason Schwartzman and Natalie Portman waived their fees), Hotel Chevalier was shot on location in Paris at the Hôtel Raphael by a small crew using props from Anderson's apartment. Filming took two-and-a-half days, and editing (done on Anderson's computer) another week.  Anderson initially intended it to be a stand-alone short film. Still, shortly before filming commenced, he realized that Schwartzman's character bore a close resemblance to one of the protagonists of a feature film he was writing at the time. That film would begin production a year later as The Darjeeling Limited.  

Told over 13 minutes, Hotel Chevalier is a simple story of complicated love. We enter the action midway through, never thoroughly learn the reason for the couple's separation or reunion but are in no doubt about the connection between the pair. The film was met with rapturous critical acclaim (much more so than the full-length movie that followed) but not without some controversy.  Portman later said that the column inches devoted to discussing her nude scenes in the film resulted in her deciding never to do another one again.

Whatever you make of it, Hotel Chevalier is a wonderful mysterious dive into the mind of Wes Anderson.  

Further links and reading

Anderson is no stranger to short filmmaking – his first Bottle Rocket was eventually developed into a feature film that launched his career.  It also features the first appearance of frequen collborators Owen and Luke Wilson. 

But he’s also made several very classy commercials as well.  His short for American Express is one of the best:

More about the man behind the music featured in Hotel Chevalier, Peter Sarsteadt.

There are lots of interviews with Anderson out there but this one is a particularly interesting insight into some of his filmmaking processes. 

Cinemateque Francaise hosted a masterclass with Anderson following the release of The Grand Budapest Hotel.

All of Anderson’s feature films are all available to rent on the usual platforms VOD services:  

Isle of Dogs
The Grand Budapest Hotel 
Moonrise Kingdom 
Fantastic Mr. Fox 
The Darjeeling Limited 
The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou 
The Royal Tenenbaums 
Bottle Rocket 

And his latest film (which was due to open Cannes this year) The French Dispatch is due out in the Autumn (hopefully).

And finally, Wes Anderson has shared his own list of what he’s been watching during lockdown.

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