Gregory G. H. Rihn (milwaukeesfs) wrote,
Gregory G. H. Rihn

The Brothers Grimm

As with most fantasy movies, we liked this one more than the critics did. Terry Gilliam's conceit in this film is that at least some of the fairy tales compiled by Wilhelm and Jakob Grimm were based on their own experiences--. The movie opens with young Wilhelm and the boys' mother anxiously waiting for the return of young Jakob, who has been sent out to sell the family cow in order to get money for a doctor for their dying sister. Jakob returns, having bartered the cow for a handful of "magic" beans--. Cut then to 1806, and the brothers are making their living in the French-occupied German states as itinerant exorcists and ghost breakers; Wilhelm's cynical disbelief drives their fraudulent business, while Jakob seeks for seed of the real in the local spooks they are paid to drive away. Wilhelm derides Jakob's interest as "magic beans." Then, they get conscripted by the French governor to find out who is staging similar stunts in the area of a rural village where children are disappearing, and find that there is more than is dreampt of in Wilhelm's philosophy.

As is typical in a Gilliam production it is intensively designed, and both very funny and very scary by turns. Matt Damon (Wilhelm)and Heath Ledger (Jakob) do not so much act as react, but they are given much to react to. Gilliam populates the landscape with faces that are interesting and grotesque, and does not miss a trick in working in resonant references, from the red cloak worn by the first victim we see, to the village harridan coming to the brother's door, intent on presenting them with a shiny red apple. Like many of Grimm's often grisly tales, some of the movie is too intese for young children, especially the literally nightmarish scene of the enchanted horse, and the very disturbing sequence involving the 'gingerbread man'.

The leads are well supported by Gilliam veteran Johnathan Pryce, as the authority figure who won't recognize that reality is not as he wills it to be, Lena Headly as the "cursed one," whose father and sister have been taken by the forest, and Monica Bellucci (Persephone in the "Matrix" films) as the beautiful wicked queen, Peter Stromare as the brutal henchman who becomes a convert, and many others.

Highly reccomended. Too scary and violent for young children.
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