The Brothers Grimm (2005)

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Released 7-Jun-2006

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Menu Animation
Audio-Visual Commentary-Bringing the Fairy Tale to Life
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Visual Magic
Audio Commentary-Play Film by Director Terry Gilman
Deleted Scenes
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2005
Running Time 113:38 (Case: 118)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Terry Gilliam

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Matt Damon
Heath Ledger
Jonathan Pryce
Lena Headey
Peter Stormare
Richard Ridings
Mackenzie Crook
Roger Ashton-Griffiths
Case Alpha-Transparent
RPI $39.95 Music Dario Marianelli

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

Unfortunately for the great Terry Gilliam, chaos is a word which is usually used to describe the man himself and his film productions. Yet there is no doubt Gilliam is an extraordinary director and throughout his career I have always taken pleasure in indulging in his brilliant, subversive and mythic visionary universe which gave birth to such films as Time Bandits (1981), Brazil (1985), The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988), The Fisher King (1991), Twelve Monkeys (1995) (which was inspired by Chris Marker's La Jetée (1962)) and the cult classic Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998) which was based on Hunter S. Thompson's novel of the same name. But the real world of financially minded Hollywood cannot co-exist with Gilliam's universe, and often Gilliam is forced to go to extraordinary lengths to see his films made his way and his latest, The Brothers Grimm, was no different, as it turned out the real Brothers Grimm were the Weinstein brothers.

Bob McCabe's book Dreams and Nightmares: Terry Gilliam, 'The Brothers Grimm' and other cautionary tales of Hollywood casts an insight onto the troubled production of Grimm. Some of the issues named by McCabe include: Matt Damon's appearance was to be altered with the use of a prosthetic nose for his character of Wilhelm Grimm but the Weinstein brothers threatened to shut production down if the leading man was to be unrecognisable to the audience. Also there were many casting disagreements; one actually saw the loss of Robin Williams, another major one being Samantha Morton being turned down by Miramax and the Weinstein brothers. Also Gilliam's preferred cinematographer Nicola Pecorini was personally fired by the Weinstein brothers within three weeks of production.

This led Gilliam to send a fax to Bob Weinstein during production which is reproduced unedited in McCabe's book. Here is part of the interesting exchange to give an indication of how Gilliam felt during production "Once again you have made an arbitrary decision which has harmed the film I am trying to make. From the beginning of this project I have said that our tastes are very different - with each of your acts, from the forcing of Lena Headey on me to the willingness to close the film down because of make-up on Matt Damon that made him look right for the character of Will Grimm, to the criticism of Peter Stormare's performance to the present firing of Nicola Pecorini, I am convinced the film in your head is a different one from mine. In the case of NP, I think you fired the wrong man - his work was beautiful, dark and magical - exactly what I wanted. Exactly right for the story."

What was "exactly right for the story" is somewhat lost due to the behind the scenes problems on the film's production. There are some great moments in The Brother's Grimm - for example, the casting is largely great. Matt Damon, Heath Ledger, Peter Stormare, Jonathan Pryce, Mackenzie Crook and Monica Bellucci are all fantastic in their respective roles. There are also richly detailed reproductions of various fairytales and some great monty pythonesque comic moments, but there are also some disordered scenes that are quite unnecessary. What does succeed is Ehren Kruger's script which was heavily rewritten by Terry Gilliam and Tony Grisoni (although they remain uncredited due to problems with the Writers Guild of America).

The script presents a unique interpretation of the Brothers Grimm who travelled through Germany and other countries performing field research for their linguistic work. A by-product of this research was a series of stories which they had collected in their travels and eventually published as a collection of authentic German fairy tales. These included Cinderella, Tom Thumb, Hansel and Gretel, Rapunzel, Little Red Riding Hood, The Frog Prince, The Gingerbread Man and Snow White. When reproducing these tales within the film Gilliam plays against the Disney versions, focusing on subverting the tales, changing what the audience knows and expects. This idea also interplays with the main protagonists, as Wilhelm Grimm (Matt Damon) does not believe in 'magic' while for Jakob Grimm (Heath Ledger) he needs the fantasy to be real. Essentially the film plays with what is myth and what is real and The Brother's Grimm who within the film are illusionists find out fantasy can be real. Like Tim Burton's homage to Hammer films with Sleepy Hollow (1999), Terry Gilliam's film plays tribute to the fairy tale world and to enjoy this film the audience has to accept the world it presents, and within Gilliam's universe it is not unusual to see extreme characterisations such as Stomare's Italian torture artist Cavaldi and Jonathan Pryce's overtly French General Delatombe. If you are a fan of Gilliam, there is much to enjoy and while it isn't as great as it could be, there is no denying Gilliam tried his best and there is much attention to detail from the cast and crew. I enjoyed The Brothers Grimm. There are flaws but these can be forgiven as any Gilliam film which actually gets made is a sight to behold. Hopefully Gilliam makes his masterpiece with The Man Who Killed Don Quixote and Tideland gets a wider release later this year.

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Transfer Quality


The transfer is of excellent quality, with rich colours, deep black levels and an overall warm rich composition. The DVD transfer is presented in 1.78:1 16x9 enhanced widescreen. The image quality is flawless. There are many different environments in the film and all are presented well and there are no instances of colour bleeding or notable MPEG artefacts. Overall this is a great transfer and would certainly look even better with future Blu-Ray releases. The subtitles are true to the onscreen dialogue and action.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is also expertly produced as the sound remains encompassing and creates the mood of the film without becoming grandiloquent during the action sequences. The score by Dario Marianelli is traditional and works very well with the onscreen action as it is suspenseful, operatic and romantic and well tuned to the fantastical nature of the film.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


“The Visual Magic of the Brothers Grimm”

This visual effects feature is a nice addition allowing the crew to speak of their roles and the combined use of models and CGI. (8:41)

“Bringing The Fairy Tale To Life”

Unfortunately this is the usual promotional footage which is a shame, as a great behind the scenes documentary could have been made like The Hamster Factor and Other Tales of Twelve Monkeys (1997) which featured on the Twelve Moneys DVD or the excellent Lost In La Mancha (2002), both of which are directed by Keith Fulton and Louis Pepe. (16:28)

Audio Commentary

Gilliam's commentaries are always interesting as he remains honest and grounded when talking about the filmmaking industry. Gilliam speaks of the facts rather than the gossip and although he admits early in the commentary that he wasn't particularly interested in the original script and agreed to direct the film because he was out of work, you realise that despite his apprehension towards the production, he gave a lot of himself in bringing the script to the screen. Gilliam is proud of his cast and notes the scenes he likes and the scenes he dislikes (which were the exact same scenes I disliked) and is honest regarding his motivations in the film's production. All round a great commentary by a filmmaker who knows the good, the bad and the ugly of the filmmaking industry all too well but is able to give thanks to those who deserve it and remain silent on those who don't.

12 Deleted Scenes

The deleted scenes feature audio introductions by Gilliam; these are mostly extensions of scenes featuring sub characters. A great addition to this DVD is the addition of the most expensive scene on what is Gilliam's highest budgeted film which was ultimately cut out due to being too grand. The action sequence was to appear midway during the film, but it was feared that it would upstage the finale.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

The R1 and R4 are identical except that trailers for "Flightplan" (2:35), "Underclassmen" (1:17) and "Dark Water" (2:34) are included with French and Spanish subtitle options for the main feature in R1. The R2 Scandinavian and R3 Hong Kong releases offer DTS sound options. The R3 Hong Kong release also offers the following extras on a second disc; interviews with Terry Gilliam, Matt Damon, Heath Ledger and Petr Ratimec. Also included are TV Spots and a Theatrical Trailer. Overall the R3 Hong Kong release for the DTS soundtrack and differing extra features is the best option although the R4 is still a credible release.


An admirable film which has been produced commendably on DVD. The extras are suitable and relatable to the main feature although they are more of the usual promotional variety. The commentary is also an excellent addition to a film which has unsurprisingly received mixed reviews. This is an excellent local release although the R3 Hong Kong release is a two disc set with an optional DTS soundtrack.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Vanessa Appassamy (Biography)
Friday, June 16, 2006
Review Equipment
DVDDenon DVD-1910, using DVI output
DisplayPanasonic PT-AE 700. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationYamaha DSP-A595a - 5.1 DTS
Speakers(Front) DB Dynamics Polaris AC688F loudspeakers,(Centre) DB Dynamics Polaris Mk3 Model CC030,(Rear) Polaris Mk3 Model SSD425,(Subwoofer) Jensen JPS12

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Comments (Add)
Waiting for the double-dip - Neil REPLY POSTED
Not as good as I had hoped for - Raven (read my bio)