The Brothers Grimm

Partially recommended. This Terry Gilliam creation has a fictional version of the brothers who created the famous somewhat gruesome fairytales, as charlatans who exploit the superstitions of medieval peasants to make money. So, they manufacture a fake witch with middle ages technology and then vanquish her, knowing that since witches don’t really exist, there won’t be any real trouble and it will appear that they stopped it all. UNTIL THEY MEET REAL SUPERNATURAL magic and witchcraft and haunted woods. One brother is a “true believer” whose belief in magic beans ruined his destitute family’s life, and the other brother is the consummate materialist who quotes the infamous Hobbesian dictum, “life is short, brutish struggle and then you die.” He is certain “there is a rational explanation for everything.” This is a great set up for the materialist brother by the end to humble his pride and acknowledge not merely the existence of the supernatural, but also the reality of the things that go with it, like love and honor and courage. And he learns it from his naïve brother who keeps seeking the magic and its origins. So their redemption lies in being forced to save a small community haunted by monsters. Their charlatanism is cured and they find true love as well as save a group of about 12 children. They have some great subtle lines that recall famous fairy tales but worked within the story, like “Who’s the fairest of them all” and “huff and puff”. The whole point of this story is the Romantic notion that the onset of rationalism and science stole the mystery out of life, and that has blinded the eyes of the modernist who cannot see the evan vitale, the magic, the supernatural of life. A rather noble sentiment, coming as it does, from one of the atheist Monty Python gang. But then again, his view is more likely to be that of Bruno Bettleheim and the Jungian belief in the archetypes of the collective unconscious. And fairy tales tap into that collective unconscious and unite us in humanity rather than in God and his image. But alas, I do not think that Jungian analysis is the last word in the interpretation of fairy tales. In the tale, the witch must have the blood of others to maintain her eternal life or she returns to her corpse self. Well, that is clearly a substitutionary atonement theme that also reinforces the belief that evil people will consume or kill others in order to benefit their own future and hopes. Kinda sounds like abortion, euthanasia, and stem cell research doesn’t it? Consume and kill the young, the old, the less fit and helpless in order to advance your own interests and survival. So the story, like a dark version of Shrek, begins as a deconstruction of fairy tales, but ends up a rather traditional fairy tale.