Worth A Look: 47.37%
Pretty Bad: 5.26%
Total Crap: 5.26%
6 reviews, 59 user ratings
|Brotherhood of the Wolf
The movie is based on the real-life legend of the Beast of Gevaudan which killed over a hundred people in France between 1764 and 1767. The screenwriter has come up with a fascinating fictional story built around the legend.WARNING - In order to review this film and discuss its meaning, I have to reveal the ending. So . . . if you don't want to know what happens in the end, please don't read this until after you have seen the film.
"This film has it all. An awesome ride."
The movie begins in 1764. Fronsac, accompanied by his companion, a Mohawk Indian named Mani, has come to kill the beast. Fronsac is a taxidermist and scientist and does not believe there is anything supernatural about the beast. Shortly after arriving Fronsac meets Marianne (the love interest) and her evil, one armed brother, Jean-François de Morangias. Fronsac also meets the evil priest, Sardis. The story involves Fronsac’s relationship with Marianne, his attempts to track down the beast, and his troubles with Mornagias and Sardis. The story is narrated as one big flashback by Thomas d’Apcher, a young nobleman who helps Fronsac.
Even though this film is strong in action, with a lot of butt-kicking going on throughout, the movie is also very strong in characterization.
The two male leads, Fronsac and the Indian Mani, are like brothers and are the ones who do battle with the beast and with the evil forces controlling the beast. Mani is so skilled at fighting that he can take on a group of bad guys and totally kick their butts while Fronsac watches. This emphasizes Mani’s high level of martial arts skill. Fronsac’s love for Mani is evident when Mani is killed and Fronsac takes revenge on Mani’s killers.
Jean-François de Morangias is the bad guy. He is the one who controls the beast. Marianne, Morangias’ sister, is the love interest for Fronsac. They end up together in the end, and, I assume, live happily ever after.
Sardis (the evil priest) is the one who assists Morangias. The priest appears at first as only an old fuddy-duddy watching over Marianne. But he soon shows his true colors and we realize he is not what he seemed.
There are several mysterious characters who contribute to the excellent quality of this film.
Sylvia, the mysterious card-playing prostitute is actually a lady with a secret mission. She brings a fascinating quality to her scenes. The other mysterious lady, the gypsy-like woman who Mani almost kills, also heightens the mysterious atmosphere of the movie. (Mani saves her life in the big fight scene in the beginning of the film, but when she later tries to kill him and he hesitates to kill her, this hesitation ironically causes his death.)
The beast, the character who is the driving force of the plot, is not a supernatural beast, but a lion covered in armour and trained to kill. The animal is probably tortured and psychotic. In the beast’s last scene one can not but help feel pity for the poor animal.
I feel that the beast being a trained animal brings a reality to the film. Instead of a supernatural being doing the killings, it is a trained lion. The idea of the lion being trained gives a realistic motivation to its actions, and ironically means that it is not evil. The cruel humans who have trained it are the evil ones. Also, the fact that his animal has been (most probably) trained in a cruel manner only emphasizes the violence and cruelty of which humans are capable. (The nature of the characters responsible for the care and training of the beast makes me think they would train the lion in a cruel way, not in a kind way. The film shows the depths of depravity that man will go to in order to achieve power over others.
The true source of the legend was recently investigated (2009) in a history channel documentary ("The Real Wollfman") in which an ex-cop and a cryptozoologist went to France to investigate the legend. Their conclusion was that the Beast was a hyaena that had escaped from a nobleman's menagerie, then a poor villager caught it and trained it to kill. After the hyaena had killed many victims, the trainer eventually shot it to be respected by the community.
Back to the film, "Brotherhood of the Wolf." The cinematography is fantastic, from the vast expanse of the exterior shots to the beautiful and detailed period interiors. The color palate used throughout is fantastic, and brings out the best of the locations and sets.
The special effects, while not being the ultimate, are very good. The beast’s movements at a few spots appeared not quite right, but the movements did seem feline-like.
This film did not make a great deal of money at the box office in the U.S. I think part of the problem might be that American audiences are used to films that fall into neat categories. If it is a thriller, or a romance, or some other genre, people know what to expect, and, in some cases, can watch the film in a fairly passive manner. (If you don’t speak French, and watch the film in French with English subtitles you will have to concentrate to enjoy the film.) “Brotherhood of the Wolf” requires an audience to think. Maybe that’s why some didn’t like it.
“Brotherhood of the Wolf” is a different type of film as it does not fit into a specific genre. This is the film’s strong point. Just like real life, the movie is if full of comedy, drama, action, thrills, horror, etc. “Brotherhood of the Wolf” is simply a fantastic story, and being a awesome story, it does not need to fit into any particular genre..
The 3 disc special edition on DVD is excellent. If you do not speak French, you will miss out on the commentaries, but the other special features alone (which have English subtitles) make the special edition worth purchasing. (I am hoping some generous movie fan out there in cyberspace while put a translation of the commentaries on the Internet for us poor souls who do not speak French. What a contribution that would be to the understanding of this awesome film for those who only speak English.)This is an awesome film. It is my favorite. (And I don’t speak or understand French.)
link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=5704&reviewer=228
originally posted: 10/25/02 23:53:35