Deep within the lush forests and hills of French Gevaudan in the late seventeen hundreds, a beast preyed upon unwilling citizens. The creature’s jaws were described as so large that they could squash a man’s head with one snap.
Unbeknownst to the many of the citizens of the Gevaudan, the beast was also protecting a dark secret.
The French film “Brotherhood of the Wolf” delivers the audience deep within this myth and uses its basis for inspiration. Grégoire de Fronsac (Samuel Le Bihan) is accompanied by his Iroquois Indian blood brother, Mani (Martial arts sensation Mark Dacascos) as they journey into Gevaudan. Fronsac and Mani try to uncover the origin and mystery surrounding the beast.
But it seems the closer they get the more political problems stand in their way. Fronsac falls in love with a beautiful and courageous young woman named Marianne (Emilie Dequenne) who is the daughter one of the prominent citizens of Gevaudan. What is the mystery plaguing the citizens of Gevaudan?
Director Christophe Gans’s “Brotherhood of the Wolf” is a rich and intensely mesmerizing piece of filmmaking. Its lush settings, in all degrees of weather, give the film scope and texture. There are scenes in heavily forested areas, cluttered demonic caves, a penetrating blizzard, and a torrential rainstorm. It’s amazing to see a director using so many different kinds of atmospheres in one film.
This film reminded me a lot of the Beowulf legend of ancient times where Fronsac would be Beowulf and the beast is Grendel. Fronsac’s hunting of the creature and how close he becomes connected the people around him is very Beowulf.
Some scenes reminded me of “Last of the Mohicans” where others reminded me of “The Thirteenth Warrior”. I loved the no holds barred action sequences and the fluid motion of Dacascos’s martial arts.
My favorite character was Mani because while watching this film I did feel like an outsider much the way he must have felt. In reading subtitles and embracing a film in a different language, an audience member can often feel like an outsider.
With “Brotherhood” you have a connection to Mani which eases you into the film. I can’t wait to relive this film’s scope and experience on DVD with an English track. So I can pick up some of the key plot points I probably missed while following the subtitles.
My only real problem with “Brotherhood” was the film’s third act. I had a hard time following the plot as there are a lot twists and turns as the secret is unveiled. I had some problems with how the secret itself was unveiled.
There probably was a more straightforward approach to its revelation than how the director chose. I wish Fronsac would have uncovered the secret more as a detective that through manipulation of the film’s script and focus.
Besides that flaw, “Brotherhood” is a cinematic experience that is like no other. That itself could be an understatement.
4 out of 5
So Says the Soothsayer.