BROTHERHOOD OF THE WOLF
Directed by Christophe Gans
Produced by Samuel Hadida & Richard Grandpierre
Screenplay by Stephane Cabel
Photography by Dan Laustsen
Music by Joseph Lo Duca
Cast: Samuel Le Bihan, Vincent Cassel, Emilie Dequenne, Monica Belluci, Jeremie Renier & Mark Dacascos
2001/152 mins/Color/5.1 DTS
2.35:1 anamorphic/French/France/NTSC Region 1
Review from the TVA 3 DVD Collector Edition
I'm not sure how to classify this movie. It's part history, horror, fantasy, action, martial arts, religion, romance, political intrigue, the occult, and more. Does all this make sense when watching the movie? It surely does. This review is from the Canadian 3-disc release.
I won't belabor the plot as most here are familiar with it. Originally released in France with the title Le Pacte Des Loups, this movie made its way to these shores in a limited run engagement. I suspect that the reason for this limited run was due to the fact that it has subtitles which is a shame as I found this gem to be most excellent. More on this later. Basically, there is a miller beast of mysterious origins terrorizing the French countryside near the village of Gévaudan during the 1700's. Interestingly, women and children are brutally killed while men are generally left alone. Grégoire de Fronsac (Samuel Le Bihan) and his blood brother, a Canadian Mohawk named Mani (Mark Dacoscos), are sent by the King to investigate and kill this beast thought to be a large wolf. But this is just the beginning of a wild ride. This movie borrowed elements from an actual Beast of Gévaudan that once terrorized the French countryside.
The transfer to disc of gorgeous and immaculate. One would be hard pressed to find a better looking DVD. The French countryside is one of the most beautiful places on this here planet and the cinematographer brought this out to perfection. There is some slightly oversaturation of the scenes that were lit by torchlight and I feel this was purposely done in an attempt to convey the warmth that fire and torch lighting has on a scene in real life. The exterior shots are of a more natural tone as one would expect to see normally. The blacks and shadows are perfect and other colors, especially reds, are vivid and brilliant. The scenes shot in the woods where the beast roams genuinly convey eeriness and a sense of unease, fear, and certain danger. There are plenty of slow motion shots during the martial arts fighting scenes and there are several stop motion shots of some of the actor's expressions during different sequences. There are many different camera techniques ranging from crane shots to ground level angles and it all works wonderfully. This is one of the finest transfers I've ever seen.
The soundtrack comes with DD 5.1 and dTs surround. BOTW comes with either an English dub or the original French with or without subtitles. I strongly recommend that one watch this in the original French (with subs if you don't understand French) as the soundtrack is better than the English dub and more importantly, you get the inflection of the actor's voice as it was meant and not some dubbed voice which tends to lose all of that and diminish the experience.
Now, for the supplements (whew). Disc one has an audio commentary by Director Gans and Actor Vincent Cassel and nothing else since the movie is so long.
Disc two has the Making of feature, 5 Deleted scenes, and filmographies with ROM content.
Disc three has Storyboards, a full length Documentary, an album, and more ROM material.
I haven't had time to fo through the supplemental material yet but I hear it's very worthwhile and well done. All the featurettes, documentaries, deleted scenes, etc, have optional English subtitles.
There is also a very nice 16 page booklet accompanying the discs.
I was hooked inth The Brotherhood Of The Wolf right from the beginning and remained immersed throughout its entire 2 and a half hour length. This is one of those rare movies that I didn't want to end. This is a lavishly produced movie that is gloriously filmed none of which is lost on the DVD. The acting is superb from all the characters and it is apparent that they gave it their all. Director Gans is to be congratulated. Some will try to compare it to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and the like but it is different and surely stands on its own merits. If you want to buy this movie (and if you like it as well as I do, you will), do yourself a favor and get the Canadian 3-disc release. You won't be disappointed. Very highly recommended!
This Film Features:
Review by Brad Vautrinot. All Right Reserved. 2003. ©
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