Saturday, May 18, 2019
The Fairy Tale Project | 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.