Pin It
Favorite

Take Two 

by Luke Baumgarten & r & The Brothers Grimm & r & It's a pretty reliable rule of thumb that, if a film takes place in Europe, Hollywood will give the hero an English accent regardless of his country of origin. Unless the hero's supposed to be French, of course.


The Brothers Grimm gleefully sticks to this American storytelling tradition, even as it runs roughshod over the folklorist legacy of the Grimm Brothers themselves. In real life, the brothers studied law before collecting those famous fairy tales. They also worked on the Deutsches W & ouml;rterbuch, a dictionary that remains authoritative to this day.


But Terry Gilliam, who directed Brothers, has always been attracted to projects that bend reality to achieve fantasy. In the film, Matt Damon plays Wilhelm Grimm, a skeptic and con man. Heath Ledger plays his brother Jakob, a folklorist and scholar who once, we learn, traded the family cow for a handful of magic beans.


Jake, forever after pegged as a foolish dreamer, is guilt-tripped by Will into digging up odd pieces of regional lore, which Will then uses to scare superstitious townspeople out of their money. Eventually the brothers learn that there might be some truth to those tales after all, turning The Brothers Grimm into Van Helsing for book worms. That's not a bad thing. An examination of the way people forget the basic truth underlying their folktales is a fantastic premise for a movie.


Van Helsing, though, never stopped to consider those tales, their truth or falsity. It decided to make the creatures real and started killing them off. Gilliam approaches it like a storyteller, contemplating the elements of daily life that would eventually become the source of the Grimm brothers' beloved tales - not just the wraiths and immortal queens, but the cute little girl in the red cloak who lives in town or the creepy old lady soothsayer who's always handing out apples. Gilliam suggests that daily life, as much as age-old stories, contributed to the brothers' creations.


There is also a rich historical context. With the Holy Roman Empire splintered, the German identity was in jeopardy at the end of the 18th century -- a circumstance only made worse by French occupation. Gilliam delights in the Germans' uncertainty and disdain, toying with age-old prejudices and with that bizarre new French thing called "the Enlightenment."


It also leads to quite a bit of language-oriented humor, as when a French soldier, posing as a German, says "Merde ... I mean, schei & szlig;en." Like I said. Van Helsing for book worms.


Whatever the film's shortcomings, Gilliam understands that these tales, though allegorical, were once sacred and part of day-to-day reality. To honor that, the mystical and the mundane aren't set at odds, but mingled together to create a rich, zany cartoon Gothic. Watch closely to detect those familiar fairy tale elements. or just sit back and lose yourself in Gilliam's vast imagination; the movie works either way. Just stop worrying about what happened to the plot.

  • Pin It

Latest in News

  • Seven Ways Drought is Impacting the Inland Northwest
  • Seven Ways Drought is Impacting the Inland Northwest

    No, it's not as bad as in California, but drought is taking a hefty toll
    • Jul 29, 2015
  • Hopeless for Heroin
  • Hopeless for Heroin

    As heroin deaths continue to rise in Washington state, what can a parent do to save a child from the depths of addiction?
    • Jul 29, 2015
  • Call Mr. Yuk
  • Call Mr. Yuk

    Gov. Inslee avoids the "poison pill"; plus, pushing back against empty Kickstarter promises
    • Jul 29, 2015
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Mon | Tue | Wed | Thu | Fri | Sat
Moscow ArtWalk 2015

Moscow ArtWalk 2015 @ Downtown Moscow

Tuesdays, Thursdays, Sundays. Continues through Aug. 31

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by n/a

  • Iron Upgrade
  • Iron Upgrade

    The new one is smart and funny and action-packed, and it’s bigger and better and sleeker. And Downey does it again, this time ramping up Stark’s arrogant wisecracking, telling anyone who’ll listen (mostly women) that, via the creation of his powerful Iron Man suit, he’s brought years of uninterrupted peace to the world.
    • May 12, 2010
  • Seeing Gay
  • Seeing Gay

    A festival showing GLBT from all angles
    • Nov 9, 2009
  • Get Out the Vote
  • Get Out the Vote

    With all the uncertainty in the world these days, hot wings and cold beer are two things we can get behind
    • Nov 9, 2009
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • Patrolling While Black

    Gordon Grant's nearly 30 years as a Spokane cop have been affected by race, but that's not the whole story
    • Jul 8, 2015
  • Hopeless for Heroin

    As heroin deaths continue to rise in Washington state, what can a parent do to save a child from the depths of addiction?
    • Jul 29, 2015
  • More »

Top Tags in
News & Comment

Comment


Briefs


marijuana


Publisher's Note


Community


© 2015 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation