Saturday, May 18, 2019

The Brothers Grimm (2005)



Who's in it?: Matt Damon (Good Will Hunting, Ocean's Eleven, Jimmy Kimmel Live!), Heath Ledger (10 Things I Hate About You, The Patriot, The Dark Knight), Lena Headey (300, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Game of Thrones), Monica Bellucci (Bram Stoker's Dracula, Brotherhood of the Wolf, Spectre), and Jonathan Pryce (Something Wicked This Way Comes, Tomorrow Never Dies, Pirates of the Caribbean).

What's it about?: Witch-hunting charlatans Wilhelm (Damon) and Jacob Grimm (Ledger) question the truth behind their lies when they investigate a series of child abductions in a remote village near a dark forest.

How is it?: We're going to be talking about Grimm fairy tales for an upcoming episode of Filthy Horrors. I know that there won't be enough time to talk about everything I'll want to, so as I'm reading and watching things to get ready for it, I'll use this site as a journal to capture thoughts.

Before I even read one of the Grimms' fairy tales, Terry Gilliams' movie about them seemed like a good place to start. Although I'd completely forgotten that Gilliam directed it. It's got his trademark imagination and whimsy, but not many of the practical effects that I always associate with him thanks to his '80s movies like Time Bandits, Brazil, and The Adventures of Baron Munchausen. I miss the inventiveness that went into bringing those fantasies to life. The 2005 CG of The Brother's Grimm doesn't hold up well.

The buildings and other settings all look wondrously fantastical though and the actors are delightful. Ledger is acting against type as the nerdier brother, Jake, who believes the stories he's telling, to the annoyance of the more practical Will. And it's great to see Lena Headey in a role where I can root for her as I always want to do. She plays the village hunter, daughter of a previous hunter who went missing when she was little.

The story is typical Shakespeare in Love shenanigans where we get to see the "inspirations" for so much of the writers' work. The villain (Bellucci) with her long hair, impenetrable tower, and magic mirror is responsible for legends of Snow White's evil queen as well as Rapunzel. She's trying to resurrect herself and reclaim her beauty by kidnapping young girls and putting them to sleep until she's ready to use them for her magic ritual. And she's assisted in this by a werewolf who opens the film luring into the woods a girl wearing a red hood.

To be clear, I love this stuff and the script does a nice job weaving it together. It even sets the story during Napoleon's occupation of Germany so that French characters (like Pryce's ruthless Delatombe) can interact with and potentially inspire the Grimms with Charles Perrault's versions of some of these stories. Cinderella in particular comes up a couple of times.

Rating: Three out of five hunting Headeys.



3 comments:

Erik Johnson Illustrator said...

I remember going out to see this after I had taken my first college film class at MCAD while I was still in high school which made me feel quite grown-up. We had seen parts of Terry Gilliam’s Brazil so I was eager to see this new film of his in theaters. But the way it was presented with all the wink and nod references to the most well know Grimm’s Fairy Tales made me feel like I was still being talked to like I was still a kid.

In hindsight it’s strange how this movie seems to have been five to seven years ahead of the curve with the ‘turn iconic (and public domain) fairy tales in dark, gritty (often PG-13) action movies for teens like we got with Snow White and the Huntsman, Amanda Seyfried’s Red Riding Hood or Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters. I wonder whatever happened to that trend.

This also fits a ‘monster protection racket’ subgenere were the lead says ‘sure i’ll help you with this supernatural menace for a price’. It fits in well with Dragonheart and The Frighteners.

Paxton said...

I enjoy this movie much as I enjoy the other fairy tale themed movies Erik mentioned above; Hansel & Gretel Witch Hunters which is pretty great fun, Red Riding Hood which is fun but I expected a lot more and even the first Snow White & Huntsman which I enjoyed but for some reason have never found the time or the reason to sit down for the sequel. And I think it looks pretty great with that cast.

Michael May said...

Snow White and the Huntsman, Red Riding Hood, and especially Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters are all definitely on my list.

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