Brotherhood of the Wolf

Brotherhood of the Wolf (2001) - IMDb

I remember being really hyped for Brotherhood of the Wolf when it was coming out here in America. I didn’t even know that it was a French film while it was being marketed, the only thing I did know what that it looked awesome. I think as it was coming out my brother said it was based on Beowulf, which it isn’t, but we were both on a Beowulf kick at the time and watched pretty much anything we could even slightly based on it. Watching it again, for the first time in a few years, you see how influential this movie has been especially with the really flashy editing during the fight scenes.

Brotherhood of the Wolf was directed by Christophe Gans. It was written by Gans and Stéphane Cabel. I’ve not seen any of Cabel’s other work. I’ve seen some of Gans’ other work. He worked on the horror anthology H.P. Lovecraft’s Necronomicon and Silent Hill. This came out between those two movies. Gans’ sense of action and movement add something to the action scenes. Gans and Cabel have a way of writing that helps draw you into the story, along with the camerawork throughout the movie.

It stars Samuel Le Bihan, Vincent Cassel, Émilie Dequenne, Monica Bellucci, Jérémie Renier, and Mark Dacascos. A lot of the people in the cast this is the only movie that I’ve ever seen with them in it. Dequenne is a lot of fun as Marianne. There’s a sweetness in how she plays her that draws you in whenever she’s on screen. Le Bihan as de Fronsac is interesting. He basically gets to play two different roles. The first one is light, jovial, and open while the second one is anger, rage, and vengeance. I personally find the angrier version of the character a little bit more fun to watch just because you see quite a few awesome action scenes. This was my introduction to both Cassel and Bellucci who I always enjoy seeing on my screen. I knew who Mark Dacascos was before this, but I was still surprised when I saw him the first time. The movie is also narrated by Jacques Perrin.

The plot of Brotherhood of the Wolf starts during the French Revolution as Marquis d’Apcher documents his life as he waits to be killed by the mob outside his castle. He tells the story of The Beast of Gévaudan and how it terrorized the region. Chevalier de Fronsac, the royal naturalist to the king, and his companion Man, an Iroquois from America, arrive to capture the beast. De Fronsac becomes enamored with Marianne de Morangias, the daughter of a local count, and Sylvia, an Italian courtesan in the brothel. They all discover a conspiracy that has ties to the church as well as to the king.

The costume design in the movie is really cool. What the main characters are wearing when you first see them is an incredibly dynamic costume that looks even cooler when they fight in them. The production design is amazing too, but that also helps when you’re able to film in an actual castle like they were. The creature was done with a combination of CG and puppet/animatronics. The physical components of the creature were made by the Jim Henson company, which is probably why they look so good. The music by Joseph LoDuca is fantastic. His score provides all the right emotions to help amplify the movie to the next level.

Brotherhood of the Wolf is a fantastic action movie with some fantasy and horror mixed in. This was my first proper introduction to French film, which I’m still learning about. I do feel like this set the template for the editing for action scenes now, but they’ve since lost all of what made them cool in the first place. All flashy editing while losing the impact of the fights. Brotherhood of the Wolf was just added to Shudder. I give Brotherhood of the Wolf  9 fake beasts out of 10.

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