This birthday I chose to watch “The Brothers Grimm” with my family, even before I remembered that I shared a birthday with with the younger brother, Wilhelm (Matt Damon’s character). In the movie, it portrays Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm as legendary heroes that make a profit saving lives in events akin to the ones found in their folktales.
While Wilhelm is most memorable for his charm and wit, the older brother, Jacob (the late Heath Ledger), the introspective dreamer, to me, is the hero in a tale that involves a witch, a spell and missing children. In the beginning, the brothers can be seen listening to and jotting down stories in the oral tradition, much like others have done to preserve stories. The connection to stories is clear from the start and really underscores how in real life they became impacted by fairy tales at an early age. For instance, the movie starts off in a childhood flashback that has Jacob trading a cow for some “magic” beans, a reference to “Jack and the Beanstalk.” An action-packed adventure into an enchanted forest ensues that includes a frog that tells them which direction to go, moving trees and a mysterious tower, among other exotic features. Initially, it’s only Jacob, with his knowledge of folktales and his endless imagination, who sees what’s going on, and he must make Wilhelm and the other members of the colorful supporting cast understand the magical world they are in.
I highly recommend this movie to teens, young adults and beyond as an introduction to the Grimm fairy tales.