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This view of pre-war, idyllic Europe is a little chilling when you realise how this world was soon to be shattered by the first and second world wars in quick succession.

In fact, there were signs of anti-semitism and political extremism around, but according to Zweig the people of Vienna were untouched by it - or perhaps chose to ignore it. Here is a prop, a newspaper from the film (in fact, Anderson wrote every article for it!). In the scene the lobby boy Zero rushes in with urgent news, and proceeds to ignore the threat of war completely and tell M. Gustave about the death of his wealthy and refined patroness  Madame D.

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© Elizabeth Kendal, all rights reserved