(all special features are in French WITH English subtitles unless otherwise noted)
:: Two Commentaries (in French with NO English subs)
:by actors Samuel Le Bihan and Vincent Cassel
:by director Christophe Gans
:: Deleted Scenes
:: "The Guts of the Beast" Documentary - 78 min.
:: "Behind the Scenes" Documentary - 78 min.
:: "The Legend" Documentary
:: Photo Gallery
:: Production Notes Booklet
Loosely based on true events, this high-powered Gallic blockbuster - directed by Christophe Gans, hired on the strength of his incredible genre-bending adaptation of CRYING FREEEMAN - wowed French audiences when released in 2001. And no wonder! A high-kicking combination of horror movie, period drama, political thriller and 'Matrix'-inspired kung fu pageant, the film combines the best elements of these disparate sub-genres in a dazzling display of technical wizardry. Photographed in widescreen Super 35 by Dan Laustsen (MIMIC, THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN), and played with solemn conviction by an all-star cast - including relative newcomers Vincent Cassel (LA HAINE), Monica Bellucci (the MATRIX sequels) and Jeremie Renier (LES AMANTS CRIMINELS), and veterans Jean Yanne (most recently seen in BELLE MAMAN) and Edith Scob (the elegant heroine of Franju's LES YEUX SANS VISAGE) - the movie is a riot of action and intrigue, sustained by a multilayered screenplay (co-authored by Gans and Stephane Cabel) which recounts an elaborate fable of class warfare and religious bigotry during a grim period of French history. The fight scenes - choreographed with ruthless efficiency by Hong Kong movie veteran Phillip Kwok (MASTER OF THE FLYING GUILLOTINE, HARD-BOILED, TOMORROW NEVER DIES, etc.) - are fashioned with elegant grace, and edited to perfection by Sebastien Prangere and David Wu Dai-wai (another prominent HK movie figure, Ronny Yu Yan-tai's current editor of choice). Much of the film's otherworldly visual texture is due to the sumptuous art direction (by Guy-Claude Francois [JEFFERSON IN PARIS]) and costume design (by Dominique Borg), which roots proceedings in a recognizable period 'style', despite Gans' resolutely modern approach to the material. It shouldn't work, but it does, somehow. The 'explanation' for the beast and its murderous activities - which takes into account a wide range of modern research into the story of an animal which really DID terrorize the French countryside during the 18th century - forms the backbone of the entire production, and while much of the film is a rip-roaring joy, the climactic sequences are offset by an element of tragedy and sadness, which thoroughly distinguishes the movie from most of its Hollywood counterparts. All in all, BROTHERHOOD OF THE WOLF is a magnificent folly, way ahead of its time, and quite unlike anything ever made before.
This review is based on a viewing of the Canadian disc from TVR Films which presents the original French version in its entirety (the international version, including the one released in the US and UK, appears to be shorter by about 10 minutes) and runs 150m 34s, minus the logos which open the video print and weren't part of the original production, and letterboxes the scope frame at 2.35:1 (anamorphically enhanced). The US disc - a region 1 release from Universal - is a no-frills affair which features a letterboxed anamorphic version of the shorter print, and some reviews suggest it's a better-looking transfer than the one featured on the Canadian disc. Captions and subtitles are provided. The Canadian version, however, is a 3-disc spectacular, and features (amongst many other things) an extremely frank documentary on the making of the film which opens with an actress being clobbered during an accident on-set, and proceeds to outline the various obstacles which constantly threatened the production schedule (not least the unpredictable weather during location shooting) and ultimately strained relations between director Gans and co-producer Samuel Hadida. That such a remarkable film emerged from these traumatic circumstances says much about the talent and dedication of these extraordinary gentlemen and all those who helped bring their unique vision to the silver screen. A triumph.