Terry Gilliam has crafted a bizarre, baroque film (does he make any other kind?) around the stories collected and popularized by the Brothers Grimm.
Cast, Crew, and Other Info:
Directed by Terry Gilliam
Written by Ehren Kruger
Production design by Guy Dyas
Matt Damon as Wilhelm Grimm
Heath Ledger as Jakob Grimm
Lena Headey as Angelika
Peter Stormare as Cavaldi
Jonathan Pryce as Delatombe
Mackenzie Crook as Hedlick
Richard Ridings as Bunst
Monica Bellucci as Mirror Queen
Tomás Hanák as Woodsman
Frantisek Velecký as Deranged Old Crone
Alena Jakobova as Little Red Riding Hood
Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm make a living in early 19th-century Germany as con artist ghostbusters. They find themselves drawn into an actual haunting, in a rural village beset by supernatural forces.
The scene in the old mill that establishes the adult Grimms, and Jakob’s first experiences in the tower, both prove exhilarating. Gilliam knows how to make even standard movie-making magic work to best effect.
Like Gilliam’s version of Baron Munchausen, this film carries on too long for its own good.
In the context of this peculiar story, it makes sense to use Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm as the heroes who defeat the film’s forces of evil, and the fact that these characters gleefully bear little resemblance to the real-life scholars may be a moot point. However, calling the movie The Brothers Grimm— pre-publicity be damned—-will have a lot of people expecting some kind of biopic.
Originality: 5/6 Kruger and Gilliam have based their film on the stories collected by the real-life Brothers Grimm, but they have reconstructed them in an original manner.
Effects: 5/6 The effects are often spectacular. In particular, the movement of the Enchanted Forest impresses. Some of the CGI doesn’t quite work for me. The wolf-creature looks great, but its movement isn’t very convincing.
Story: 3/6. The story follows its own dreamlike logic. It’s fascinating but chaotic, and not always satisfying. The ending also feels too Hollywood, too out of step with what we’ve seen.
Acting: 4/6. The quality of the performances varies. The cast has chemistry, and they do well with the Pythonesque touches of humor that run throughout the film. However, the stylized hamminess becomes too much at times.
Production: 5/6 Gilliam definitely knows how to use film technology to serve his personal visions, however strange they may be.
Emotional Response: 4/6 The film is thrilling in places.
In total, The Brothers Grimm receives 30/42.
There’s some kind of reason/passion subtext, with the two sides represented by the conflicting biases of the brothers, by order/technology and intuition/storytelling, by Revolutionary France and German Romanticism. Reason has been rather shabbily represented however, and I haven’t quite worked out the film’s ideology. I’m not entirely certain Kruger or Gilliam have, either.