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The Brothers Grimm (film)

The Brothers Grimm is a 2005 American adventure-fantasy feature film directed by Terry Gilliam and primarily written by Gilliam and Tony Grisoni.

This film was supposed to be released in November 2004 in theaters, but it was delayed, with the new release date being August 26, 2005. The film was in the competition at the Venice Film Festival 2005.


The film is set at the end of the 18th century and begins with a scene of Wilhelm and Jacob Grimm as children. Their sister is dying and Jacob has been sent to sell the cow in order to have money for a doctor. However, when Jacob returns, he innocently explains that he has traded the cow for "magic" beans which will cure his sister. Will is furious with Jacob for falling for a con, and it is implied that their sister died as a result of his mistake.

The story jumps ahead fifteen years (into the early 19th century) with Will and Jake riding into a town called Karlstadt in "French occupied Germany," to rid the town of a witch's ghost. However, after killing the "ghost", it is revealed that the Brothers Grimm have actually set up fake demons and monsters to trick gullible townspeople with the help of two assistants, Hidlick and Bunst.

Afterwards, as they are celebrating at an inn, Cavaldi, an Italian torturer, captures them and takes them to the French General, Delatombe. Delatombe forces them to solve a mystery: the girls of the small village of Marbaden are going missing and the villagers are convinced that supernatural beings are responsible. The Brothers are charged with finding out who is responsible, under the assumption that it is the work of con artists like themselves. However, they soon discover that it is in fact the work of a real supernatural force: a beautiful, yet dangerous, 500-year-old, Thuringian Queen is stealing young girls to restore her own beauty.

Long ago, a Christian King came to the forest to build a city. His Queen tormented the villagers' ancestors to possess their magic, including a spell for eternal life. Only a year later, her kingdom was destroyed by the plague. She built a high tower to avoid it, as her husband and everyone below her perished — unfortunately, she did not understand that plague was carried by wind. She was extraordinarily vain and soon began to rot away as she decayed over the years. Her spell granted her immortal life, but not the youth and beauty to go along with it. Her youthful appearance now only exists in her mirror, the source of her life, as an illusion and nothing more. She needs to drink the blood of twelve young women to regain her beauty, 10 have already been reported missing (several kidnapped in spoofs of famous Brothers Grimm fairytales).

The queen is working an enchantment to regain her beauty with the aid of her werewolf huntsman with a magic axe, crow familiars, and various creatures, including trees, in the forest. The Brothers Grimm, with the help of Angelika, a knowing huntress from the village, and Cavaldi, must stop her.

After a few incidents (another girl goes missing, and both of Cavaldi's assistants are killed by the trees) Cavaldi takes the Grimms and Angelika back to Delatombe. Because they have failed, Cavaldi may kill both of the Grimms. After convincing Delatombe that the magic in the forest is actually caused by German rebels, he sends them back. This time Hidlick and Bunst come along. Cavaldi sends the four companions to the forest and he stays behind with Angelika. Jake gets into the tower with a hook and grapple from one of their con tricks. Hidlick and Bunt run away upon being frightened by the magic trees in the forest. In the meanwhile another young girl named Sasha is captured despite Angelika and Cavaldi's efforts to save her. Hidlick and Bunt arrive in time to see it happen and decide to go away as far as possible, only to be captured and beheaded by the French soldiers led by Delatombe.

In the forest, Jake succeeds in getting into the tower and notices that there are twelve crypts in which the twelve victims must lay. When Sasha's body comes up from a well, the werewolf takes her to a tomb. Will fights the huntsman and the queen tries to mesmerize Jacob with her beauty. Jacob escapes when Will throws a rock from the ground which inadvertently cracks the mirror, breaking the Queen's hold on Jacob. After rescuing Sasha and taking the wolf-mans magic axe, they return to the village. The magic axe is the only thing of which the trees in the forest are afraid. Upon returning to the town they explain that the queen needs only one more person to complete the spell. Then Delatombe arrives with the heads of Hidlick and Bunt. The Grimms are captured and about to be burned along with the forest and Jakes book of stories by the French. Cavaldi says he's sorry and returns to Delatombe. In the meanwhile the French have started to burn the forest. Jake and Will are saved by Angelika.

The werewolf is revealed to be Angelika's father, who had been saved by the Queen from a frozen death and pierced in the heart with a spike keeping him under her spell. On the way, Angelika is drowned by her father, becoming the twelfth victim. She resurfaces in a pond by the tower and is placed in a tomb. The Brothers reach the Queen's tower but the spell to return her youth, which must take place under a red harvest moon is nearly complete. The Queen breathes an ice wind which puts out the forest fire.

Delatombe notices that the Grimms have escaped and goes after them with Cavaldi and his servant, as in the panic caused by the ice wind, the French soldiers had all fled. When Cavaldi refuses to kill the Grimms, Delatombe shoots him. Jake kills the servant with the magic axe and Delatombe is impaled by Will. He dies saying that all he wanted was a little bit of order. They go into the tower.

The Brothers Grimm attack the Queen but she turns their weapons against each other. Under control of her spell, the knives try to get each brother to kill each other. Will tells Jacob he's the one to do it as he can save them all (Will believes that Jake is a true believer and understands the fairytale world better than he does). He lets his guard down and Jacob's knife stabs Will in the heart. The Queen decides to revive the fallen Grimm and make him her new "prince" by taking the stake from the wolfman's heart and embedding it in Will's. The wolfman falls down wounded as the Queen attempts to get Will under her control. Jake finally manages to shatter the enchanted mirror inside the tower, causing the Queen's beauty to shatter as well. The woodsman destroys the rest of the mirror by jumping out of the window with it and Will, who had been ordered to stop the werewolf at all costs. Outside, Cavaldi seems to have survived, having donned the Grimm's faux-magic armor, and places an old Italian family curse on the witch, for killing his friend and the tower falls apart.

Cavaldi takes Jacob to Will's body, Cavaldi suddenly remembers a story from his childhood which says that a true love's first kiss can break the spell. Jake awakens Angelika which in turn resurrects the other eleven girls and Will. With the menace gone and their daughters returned to them, the villagers of Marbaden celebrate and give their heart-felt thanks to the Brothers Grimm. Cavaldi stays in the village and joins the villagers for the feast. The Grimms have decided to pursue a new vocation presumably writing fairy tales. The ending is irresolute with the words "And they all lived happily ever after…" followed by "…well, maybe not."


Actor Role
Matt Damon Wilhelm "Will" Grimm
Heath Ledger Jakob "Jake" Grimm
Peter Stormare Mercurio Cavaldi
Lena Headey Angelika
Jonathan Pryce General Vavarin Delatombe
Monica Bellucci The Mirror Queen
Laura Greenwood Sasha
Mackenzie Crook Hidlick
Richard Ridings Bunst


Despite initial fears by some critics and film fans (based on the fact that the release date was rescheduled several times), The Brothers Grimm was released 26 August 2005 after final arrangements made by the Weinstein brothers and the Walt Disney Company concerning how to divide the catalog of Miramax films currently in production. MGM and Miramax's Dimension Films produced the film, MGM has international rights and Dimension/Miramax has U.S. distribution rights. MGM backed out of its deal to co-distribute in the US, which also contributed to the delay in its release.

Dreams and Nightmares: The Brothers Grimm and other Cautionary Tales of Hollywood by Bob McCabe was released on 7 November 2005 by HarperCollins, documenting the challenges and problems that Gilliam and his crew faced while making the movie.

In an audio commentary on the DVD, Gilliam says he did not think much of The Brothers Grimm script but decided to direct it because he had no projects of his own going on at the time. In interviews included on the DVD edition of Tideland Gilliam says agreeing to direct The Brothers Grimm helped him to line up financing for Tideland. The latter film was made during a break in production on The Brothers Grimm.

DVD and Blu-ray release

The DVD version of The Brothers Grimm was released on December 20, 2005. Special features included deleted scenes, behind-the-scenes footage, and commentary from Gilliam.

The Blu-ray Disc version of The Brothers Grimm was released on October 17, 2006.

External links

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