Brotherhood of the Wolf (2001)

Directed by: Christophe Gans

Runtime: 2hrs 22mins

Guest Review By: Aaron Capo

142_afI don’t remember how I became aware of it, but when a film club began at my high school, I made sure to be in attendance for the first meeting. The club president was a guy named Brody. Clad in a leather trench coat and wearing small circular sunglasses, he proclaimed he was a self diagnosed insomniac and a jack of all trades, as he slyly took in all the students who had gathered in room 112. Initiation into the club was simple: give an example of a film with excellent cinematography. When my turn came, I put forth a film I’d seen just the night before, “Brotherhood of the Wolf.” Just like that, I was in. And while I never again attended a meeting, because it ended up being lame, whenever I think of the word cinematography I am reminded of that film.

“Le Pacte Des Loups,” as it was called in France where it was originally released in 2001, tells the somewhat true story of Gregoire de Fronsac. Set in 18th century France, the tale follows Gregoire and his companion Mani as they are tasked with the capture of a mysterious beast which has been terrorizing a small town. A scientist and skeptic, Gregoire sets out to disprove the existence of such an animal, and what follows is a truly fascinating mystery, punctuated by some excellent fight choreography and a wonderful score. The costuming also deserves a special shoutout. The coats Gregoire and his companion travel in for much or the film are reminiscent of gothic masterpiece “Bloodborne.” I remember being especially impressed by the prop design. Each character has their own interesting and unique weapon to accommodate their unique fighting styles. For a film set in France, in 1764, there is an awful lot of martial arts going around, but the choreography is so fluid and interesting that it doesn’t really seem out of place.

“Brotherhood of the Wolf” feels like a more somber 2009’s “Sherlock Holmes” with just a dash of Lovecraft thrown in to spice things up. At the core of the story is the friendship between Gregoire and Mani, although their dynamic is very different from that of Holmes and Watson. Mani is portrayed as a stoic Iroquois warrior by Mark Dacascos, who you may recognize as The Chairman from “Iron Chef America,” and he steals every scene he’s in. Gregoire, played by Samuel Le Bihan, is mostly silent and contemplative as well, with none of the idiosyncrasies that any iteration of Sherlock usually possesses. Together they work to unravel the strange circumstances surrounding The Beast of Gevaudan.

If you’re in the mood for a good mystery with some beautiful fight scenes that take place in slow motion rain, “Brotherhood of the Wolf” is for you. It is a French take on “Sherlock Holmes” in the best way, and the true life events that it is based on are quite fascinating. I invite you to look up the real Beast of Gevaudan, if you’ve got some spare time. Oh, and lastly, the cinematography in this film is quite good.

 

4 Stars

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