THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF THE BROTHERS GRIMM (Blu-ray Review)
Review by Mr. Paws😺
Watching the newly restored The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm is another reminder that I was probably born a few decades too late. Not necessarily because of the movie itself. While I certainly love more than my fair share of classics, I’ve never been one of those “they don’t make ‘em like they used to” kind of guys. But from a technical standpoint, the film was one of the last of its kind.
Produced and partially directed by George Pal, The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm doesn’t rank among his indisputable classics, though it’s arguably his last good film. Part fanciful biography, part anthology film, the humble beginnings of Wilhelm & Jacob Grimm (Laurence Harvey & Karl Boehm) serve as a wraparound story for three of the brothers’ lesser-known fairy tales.
Those fairy tales are perfect family fare and the highlight of the film, especially “The Singing Bone,” the comedic story of a narcissistic knight (Terry-Thomas) and his dim-witted squire (Buddy Hackett) facing off against a highly-amusing dragon. The Grimm’s story is less compelling, though as flakier brother Wilhelm, Harvey - playing somewhat against-type - is engaging and likable, the polar opposite of his dark turn as Raymond Shaw in The Manchurian Candidate, released the same year.
|When the meds kick in.|
Though innovations like CinemaScope, Panavision and ultimately IMAX wouldn’t have existed without it, the Cinerama process itself was a thing of the past by the time I regularly went to the movies (though I was once lucky enough to visit a Cinerama theater in Seattle).
This beautifully restored Blu-ray serves as a reminder of how amazing Cinerama really was (even with some of its creative limitations). Of course, no home video can fully replicate the experience, so this is the next best thing to being there, with letterbox and “smilebox” versions of the film, the latter which simulates the curved screens of Cinerama theaters. As director of the fairy tale segments, Pal himself takes great advantage of the 3-strip process, exploiting the widescreen canvas for all its worth in the first story, “The Dancing Princess.” The entire film looks stunning - like it could’ve been filmed yesterday - and rarely do we see any frame overlap that was typical of Cinerama films back in the day.
In addition to a near-perfect picture and sound, this two-disc set is loaded with bonus features related to both the film and restoration process. While Warner Archive has always done a commendable job releasing classics on disc, they’ve outdone themselves here. The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm may not be a timeless classic, but the Blu-ray serves as a reminder of how grand the moviegoing experience used to be. Wish I coulda been there.
LETTERBOX & “SMILEBOX” VERSIONS - “Smilebox” sort of simulates a Cinerama theater’s curved screen. Not really the optimum way to watch at home.
SONG SELECTION - Both versions include an option to go directly to any song scene from the film.
THE EPIC ART OF THE BROTHERS GRIMM - A short featurette of some of the poster art.
THE WONDERFUL CAREER OF GEORGE PAL - A brief appreciation for the animator-turned producer/director.
RESCUING A FANTASY CLASSIC - By far, the best kibble of all, this brand new 40 minute documentary features the lengthy, painstaking efforts to restore the film.
A SALUTE TO WILLIAM FORMAN - Forman was the CEO of Cinerama, Inc.
2 RADIO INTERVIEWS - One with actor Russ Tamblyn, the other with actor Yvette Mimieux.
ROTHENBERG, GERMANY, LOCATION COMMEMORATIVE PLAQUE
SLIDESHOW - Collection of behind the scenes photos.
LETTERBOX & “SMILEBOX” TRAILERS
CINERAMA ANNOUNCEMENT TRAILER