"Once upon a time" is viewed by some as a warning; as though this preamble was set up as the pre-cursor to today's "Rated PG-13" (Liquori). The release of the semi-biographical film, "The Brothers Grimm," helped to bring the traditional fairy tales of the Grimm Brothers into the 21st Century while offering a dramatic glimpse into their lives (Fisher). The film, a fantasy-based description of the lives of the Grimm Brothers, ties several elements found throughout their most famous tales. The film offers the audience a unique perspective into the personalities and demeanor of the Grimm Brothers. Their themes, prevalent throughout their tales, were emphasized by their use of mystery, intrigue, and violence.
The film begins towards the end of the 18th Century in a small house (Times), presumably the house that Will and Jacob Grimm grew up in. In the film, the sister is dying, and Jacob has been sent to sell the family's cow to pay for a doctor to help her. Instead, he returns with a handful of beans and a story that they were magical. "Will is furious with Jake, and it is implied that their sister died as a result of his mistake" (Times 1). Of course, in one of the brothers' most famous tales, "Jack and the Beanstalk," a young boy sold the family cow to obtain the money they needed (Stauffacher); when the beans were thrown from the window, a giant beanstalk grew leading Jack on a magical adventure.
Throughout the film, the death of their sister proves to have a profound effect on the lives of both Wilhelm and Jacob Grimm. In reality, the boys' father died when they were both very young (Baxter, Lindquist and Mauck, Grimm Brothers: Biography). This traumatic event thrust the Grimm family into poverty; and the Grimm brothers resigned themselves to follow in their father's footsteps: attending college and acquiring degrees in law and eventually becoming renowned professors (Baxter, Lindquist and Mauck, Grimm Brothers: Biography).
The film also portrayed these two boys as scholars, and made several references to their high intelligence (Damon and Ledger). Additionally, the film portrayed the Grimm brothers as travelers. Although, during their real lives, the brothers traveled both together and individually to collect stories (Cooper) whereas in the film they were portrayed as traveling con artists (Damon and Ledger). As con artists, rather than collecting fairy tales from storytellers, they would create the stories by vanquishing fake ghosts, ghouls, and witches, until they were inadvertently caught up in a conglomerate of some of today's most recognizable stories: complete with the "Big Bad Wolf," the evil queen hidden away in a tower, and enchanted forest, and even a pile of several dozen mattresses. Terry Gilliam, the film's director, was very excited to do a film in which she could rewrite some of her favorite childhood fairy tales and "make a fairy tale out of the Grimm Brothers" (Miramax 1).
Some people believe that the Grimm version of these fairy tales are very dark-possibly too dark for children. Terry Gilliam, the film's director, expressed dismay that the film was rated as a "PG-13" (Damon, Science Fiction Weekly). As an avid reader of Grimms' Fairy Tales, actor Matt Damon comments on the dark nature of these stories: "maybe it was just being a child, or maybe my mother didn't read all of them, but going back and reading them, yeah, they were very dark. I