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The Brothers Grimm

Terry Gilliam's fantasy film in which the famous storytelling brothers have fantastical adventures.

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Fairy Tales Brought to Life

  • Apr 1, 2007
THE BROTHERS GRIMM is a thrilling adventure from the mind of Terry Gilliam set against the backdrop of a fairy tale with two protagonists pulled from real life. The story stars Matt Damon and Heath Ledger as Will and Jacob Grimm, the two scholars of history who traveled throughout Germany gathering the old fairy tales and legends that had been passed down through the generations through storytelling and collected them together in one collection. Except, the Will and Jacob Grimm in THE BROTHERS GRIMM only resemble the real Brothers Grimm in name only. In this story, THE BROTHERS GRIMM are a pair of sibling con artists, traveling from town to town fighting and apparently defeating one supernatural being after another, from ghosts to witches and trolls. When they fight a creature it appears quite remarkable, but that's only because of all the gadgets and stage techniques the duo uses. The ghouls and goblins are only their stage hands covered in makeup and assisted by lighting, pulleys, springs, and wires. It makes for a great show and with at least one villager present to witness the event, it brings in a lot of money. The Germans love the Brothers Grimm.

However, Germany is under the control of the French and the French aren't as disposed to superstitions, myths, and legends as the locals. When ten young girls in the village of Marbaden disappear the locals become so frightened that the French fear a revolt. General Delatombe (Jonathan Pryce) has the brothers arrested and places them under the care of the famed torture artist Cavaldi (Peter Stormare). Delatombe threatens to give the brothers over to Cavaldi unless they are able to find the missing girls in Marbaden. Upon their arrival, they hire a local woman, Angelika (Lena Headey) to guide them through the forest. She does and the brothers begin to realize that maybe there is some truth to fairy tales after all as they come face to face with a man who can transform into a wolf, an evil gingerbread man, and a wicked ageless queen.

Though THE BROTHERS GRIMM is a complete work of fiction, in the hands of Terry Gilliam it becomes a masterpiece of fantasy. As every good storyteller knows, fairy tales have heroes and villains and end happily. However, fairy tales are also very dark. They are supposed to be that way because they help us (and especially children) understand a world that is often very cruel and full of pain and suffering. THE BROTHER GRIMM is a grand fairy tale and in the telling it weaves together elements of many of the real Brothers Grimm's most famous tales: Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, The Gingerbread Man, Rapunzel, etc.

I like Terry Gilliam as a director, but his films have been somewhat hit and miss the past few years. THE BROTHERS GRIMM is one that falls into the hit column. I thoroughly enjoyed the film. The movie was engaging and captivating. I especially liked how Damon and Ledger played the opposite type of roles they normally play. I also like discovering the allusions to the various Grimm fairy tales scattered throughout the movie.

Recommended for fans of Gilliam, people who enjoy fantasy movies, and families who don't mind watching a fairy tale film told the way a fairy tale should be told.

The DVD includes a director's commentary with Gilliam, which is worth the time to listen through if you have it. There are a few deleted scenes, including the most expensive scene in the whole film: Will and Jake and Angelika fighting a giant tree. There are a couple of behind the scenes featurettes, "Bringing Fairy Tale to Life" and "The Visual Magic of THE BROTHERS GRIMM".

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More The Brothers Grimm reviews
review by . November 22, 2008
Recall your happy childhood days   And your favorite bedtime story   Well this one isn't one of those   It's dark and gross and gory     The Brothers Grimm travel the land   Removing "spells" and "curses"   I'd love to tell you all their tricks   But it'd take too many verses     Suffice to say they con their way   As experts in their field   By recreating old wife's tales   With …
review by . July 30, 2007
British comedy is not for everyone, and british action flicks are really not for most people, especially when starring American actors. Once you understand and accept this fact of life, then you realize how good a movie this really is. The storyline is simple; the two Grimm brothers (Damon and Ledger) are traveling con men in Napeolonic Europe. They use their knowledge of optics, chemistry, physics and psychology to create apparitions in isolated villages, and then appear to save the villagers from …
review by . August 08, 2006
posted in Movie Hype
Terry Gilliam's 'The Brothers Grimm' has a lot going for it. Stunning visually and occasionally funny, this madcap farce could have been great. Heath Ledger and Matt Damon give spirited performances as Wil and Jacob Grimm. Furthermore, the cinematography is beautifully illuminating, and the scenes are filled with cliff-hanging adventure. So why doesn't it all work?    The components are all top quality, but it doesn't really come together. There are even two plots skillfully …
review by . November 05, 2006
This movie is almost like Evil Dead meets Ever After and Van Helsing, while Sleep Hollow provides the backdrop. This movie is like a mainstream B movie. There were times I found myself laughing out loud at how cheesy or genuinely funny the movie was. I would say Matt Damon and Heath Ledger didn't do a bad job acting, however both of their performances aren't anything to get excited about either.    It is worth watching this movie just to see some of the set design and SOME of …
review by . December 25, 2005
Few complain when writers and directors take a fresh take on an old story: at times the new approach even enhances the original. Sadly, that is not the case with THE BROTHERS GRIMM. Though Terry Gilliam is well recognized as one who makes magic out of old things retold, this time the magic seems to have been concentrated on costumes, weird head pieces, claustrophobic haunted villages, and animated effects. As a result the story is left behind and without a decent script, leaves little for the actors …
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