The Great Depression, caused by the crash of the stock market in October 29, 1929 provided a dramatic end to an era of unprecedented, and unprecedentedly lopsided, prosperity. During the Depression many did not have much money to spend, but kept going to the movies because it offered audiences an escape from the grim realities of life in the 1930s. Escapism (the tendency to escape from daily reality or routine by indulging in daydreaming, fantasy, or entertainment) films became popular around this time since it would make Americans forget about their struggles even it was for a short time. The movie Grand Hotel (1932), an American drama film directed by Edmund Goulding, is one of the best examples of escapist entertainment that occurred during the decade of 1930. This film is about a luxurious Grand Hotel in Berlin, a place where nothing bad could ever happen. However, this proves to be wrong as each character faces different problems. The story follows an intertwining cast of characters over the course of one tumultuous day. Grusinskaya, a ballerina whose in love with Baron von Geigern, a thief who desperately needs money to pay a debt and tries to steal from Preysing, businessman boss of Kringelein, a terminally ill bookkeeper who decided to enjoy the rest of his life together with Flaemmchen, a stenographer in look of a wealthy future. In this film, the ballerina, the ill bookkeeper, and the stenographer are the three main characters who portray a deep feeling of wanting to escape their real lives. Grusinskaya is a Russian ballerina whose career is on the wane. She is sad and at the verge of breakdown because she knows that her popularity is waning and complains that everything in her life has become threadbare. Initially, her present at the hotel is the subject of other people’s conversations, a fleeting presence in the hotel rather than an actual character who appears in the action of the film. As an international star, Grusinskaya has traveled the world, stayed at the most luxurious hotels along her way, hotels that only served the purpose of providing a place where she could rest. Bettina Matthias in her book “The Hotel as Setting in Early Twentieth-Century German and Austrian Literature: Checking in to Tell a Story”, described the Russian ballerina as a character that because of her constant travels hasn’t have the time to connect with one place, and none of the people she has met are important to her on a personal level. However, the stay at Grand Hotel was different for Grusinskaya this time. She fell in love with Baron von Geigern thus making her a main character in the film and not just a fleeing presence. As Grusinskaya’s artistic success and her appeal as a woman fade combined with the lack of a real home that could support her loss of confidence, intensifies her feeling of loneliness which causes her to try and commit suicide. While she tries to take away her life with an overdose of medication, she is stopped by Baron von Geigern, a jewel thief who entered Grusinskaya’s room to steel her pearl necklace. This is when both of them fell in love at first sight. The appearance of Baron in the life of the Russian ballerina gave her life a big turn. Now she was in love and started to feel that her youth and popularity are how they were once. However, even though she doesn’t end up with Baron, she leaves the hotel with a new way of looking at life and feeling she could keep living and dancing like she has always do because now she knows that love is the thing that she needed to fill the loneliness she felt. Another character trying to escape his real life is Otto Kringelein. He is an old factory clerk who has become deadly ill and has decided to spend the rest of his days living the life in luxury and parties. Kringelein’s presence in the hotel is portrayed with a little of irony but disappears later on as he starts adapting to the life culture at the Grand Hotel. He decided to leave his old...
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