When I heard that Terry Gilliam was making a movie about the Brothers Grimm, I was psyched. Then I heard it had Matt Damon and Heath Ledger. Ok, not as exciting, but it could still work. Then I heard that he kinda left the film after delivering his cuts, and the studio (Miramax) made it more “normal” than your average Gilliam film. Hrmph.
But I saw the film tonight – and while it’s one of the more “straightforward” films to have Gilliam’s name on it, it’s still a lot of fun, and has a good visual style. The story is one of those “historical fiction” tales: Jacob and William Grimm are basically con-artists who use local legends as a basis for fake “exorcisms” – for money.. Jake (Ledger) is interested in the fairy-tale aspects of the locals in 1812 France-occupied-Germany, writing and Will (Damon) is more interested in the real-world, and money. When they’re captured by the French authorities, they are offered a deal: figure out who is kidnapping young girls in the forest deep in the countryside, or be killed for their crimes. Turns out that the danger is real this time, and they have to use their knowledge of folklore to figure out the spell, and how to stop it.
Ultimately, this is a black comedy and adventure film. It’s written by Ehren Kruger (The Ring, The Skeleton Key), so it’s appropriately creepy in parts. It has a good pace, and a great look. Newton Thomas Sigel (X2, Three Kings) did a kick-ass job with the looks. The sets are expansive, and Gilliam’s hand is definitely present (even in the final cut), especially with the revolutionary-France slums and grime. The music, by Italian composer Dario Marianelli, is quite good – but as of now, there is no score release planned, which is a shame.
The movie comes out in August, and I’m not quite sure how it’s gonna play. It seems like a weird sell – the trailer that just came out isn’t very good. So I’d say, give it a whirl. If anything, it’s neat to see a fictional interpretation of where some of the classic fairy-tales came from.