Folklore collectors and con artists, Jake and Will Grimm, travel from village to village pretending to protect townsfolk from enchanted creatures and performing exorcisms. They are put to the test, however, when they encounter a real magical curse in a haunted forest with real magical beings, requiring genuine courage. Written by
Many references to fairy tales (most recorded by the Grimms) are slightly different from the actual tales: Little Red Riding Hood is referenced only by her red cape, the heroic woodsman from "Little Red Riding Hood" is an evil henchman, the Big Bad Wolf is a large wolf instead of a diabolical personification, Rapunzel is an evil queen who locks herself in a tower to escape a plague, the Gingerbread Man is an incarnation of a mud monster, Jack from Jack and The Beanstalk becomes Jake, "Hans" and "Greta" are the original forms of the diminutives "Hänsel and Gretel" (i.e. "little Hans and little Greta"), Cinderella (Aschenputtel in German) is really the Grimm Brothers as they scrub the floors (the deleted scene on the DVD shows it better), the evil queen is also the queen from Snow White, all the girls' fingers are pricked as they fall into a deep sleep just like Sleeping Beauty, the Woodsman places slippers (which turn to glass) on Sasha's feet as he prepares her for the crypt, and Jake tells everyone a story of an imp whose name they had to guess, a clear reference to Rumpelstiltskin. See more »
When Angelika cuts the ropes from Will and Jacob's feet in the burning forest, the ax never strikes the ropes when they are cut. See more »
I don't think myself overly literary for reading Bruno Bettelheim's "The Uses of Enchantment," but forgive me for being obscure. In his book, Bettelheim analyzes common fairy tales for their underlying psychological and cultural meanings. He makes a great argument for the telling of fairy tales, even if they are slightly (or more than slightly) graphic, which is why I am partly able to explain my fascination with this film.
It's not really overly good really, as you've probably seen more of a seven out of ten, but yet it fascinates me. Perhaps it's the psychological element between the two brothers (which is done quite well) about the importance/existence of magic, or the surreal score peppered with Brahms and Dario Marianelli originals. (I have no idea who this guy is, but the soundtrack is so weird that I want it.) Perhaps it's the horror invoked by the fairy tale images of our childhood, brought horribly to life in the (thankfully) twisted mind of Terry Gilliam.
Oh, a little note about Terry Gilliam. You're going to have to forgive him because his pace can be a little bit feverish, and he tends to lose the viewer that's not paying attention. (He did make "Time Bandits" and "Monty Python and the Holy Grail," and you know how much of THAT made sense.) Do not question how the Grimm boys get from one end of Germany to another so quickly. Your head will explode.
Basically, this film makes me happy for a couple of reasons: one, the dialogue. It's strangely antiquated one minute, then purely Hollywood the next. (Don't worry about the anachronisms they're supposed to be there, they're funny.) Two, his name starts with Heath and ends with Ledger. Now, I didn't used to like this guy. I thought he was just a deep throated Aussie, but the boy's got range. I didn't know he could lack confidence so well. (Now I'm teasing, but really, he's quite good.) Damon was wonderful as always, proving over and over again that he may not be the prettier, but he's the smarter half of "Ben-att". Three, they're fairy tales in their ghoulish, bloody glory. Wait till you see both Little Red Riding Hood scenes, you'll totally freak out. It's nightmarish in such a way that you can't take your eyes off it. It's not morbid fascination, like a car accident, but something deeper, the sense of childlike wonder that make kids watch the most disgusting thing (like insects or TOADS) for hours.
What is the point? You might ask. Why should I see this piece of rubbish instead of "The 40 Year Old Virgin" for the 6th time? Or, in the long run, rent "The Princess Bride"? (You should rent both by the way, it'd make a lovely double feature.) Well, I still can't watch the waxing scene, but here's the real point: Fairy tales have a purpose. They give us comfort when we are in crises, and delight and frighten us when we need to have fun. What we see in Ledger's character (Jacob) is the child who shelters himself with fairy tales. What we see in Damon's (the older, Will) is the adult who wants to take him away from him. And as Bettelheim says, fantasy is not nearly as cruelly unforgiving as reality, so let him keep them. I still need a little Sleeping Beauty now and then. There's something strangely comforting about waking to true love's kiss.
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