You’ve heard of hotels where every room offers a different theme, right? Down the coast in Newport, they have one dedicated to great writers. So, with The Grand Budapest Hotel opening, it made me wonder: If Wes Anderson were a hotel, and his movies were rooms, which room would you book?
I’d begin my stay in The Darjeeling Limited.
In a nutshell, the opening scene says why. In it, a taxi shoots down a thoroughfare in a bustling Indian town. From the pensive looks of the back seat businessman (Bill Murray), he’s late. Careening through humanity, they arrive at the train station where he bullishly cuts to the front of the ticket line then huffs and puffs to catch his train, The Darjeeling Limited, already pulling away. “Wait! Wait!” he screams as a youthful face appears next to him, running in stride, then passes with ease. A song kicks in. As The Kinks’ ask in their lyrics “This time tomorrow, where will we be?”, the young man (Adrien Brody) swings onto the train in slow motion grace. He looks back with a satisfied smile at the businessman left in the dust.
Isn’t that just like our lives sometime? Are we not often on the run? Trying to get somewhere in time? Pick up kids? Make an appointment? And if trains are a metaphor of life — if we see all of us on a linear journey through time together — aren’t we always trying to catch that, too? To find life, whatever it may be for each of us? To catch its meaning? To find answers to questions like where are we going, how do we get there, and, perhaps most importantly, how much should we pack?
The Darjeeling Limited is about all of this for me. It’s about seeking life change and finding it in forgiveness and community. It’s about letting go of baggage and enjoying the ride. It’s about admitting who we are, not just to each other, but to ourselves. And it’s about treasuring parents, even ones who leave. Ultimately, its message of grace cuts through a bustling, sweating humanity with ease, much like, well, a train. And this opening sequence is just the start.
With it, Anderson promises The Darjeeling Limited will offer grace, ease, and joyfulness. That it will be about catching our train, confronting death, and moving gracefully through life. There may be bumps, stops, and detours along the way (“How can a train be lost?” one of the brother asks midway), but the grieving young men seeking reconciliation: these are the ones who make the train. These are the ones who can answer The Kinks’ question. While the stressed, pushy, burdened businessman must wait another day.
I may stay a few more days in The Darjeeling Limited suite. But I look forward to checking into a different room at the Grand Anderson Hotel next time. How about you? What room should we reserve for you?