Brotherhood of the Wolf (2001) from ICMS, Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski), and Tuna

ICMS's comments on the French DVD:

"Le Pacte des Loups" aka "Brotherhood of the Wolf" is currently rated 7.2/10 in the IMDb with women rating it higher than men. I think I am with the women on this one.

The story takes place in the 18th century and is based on facts, namely the story of the Beast of the Gévaudan. The Beast terrorized this region from 1764 to1767, killing more than 100 women and children, and was ultimately shot dead. What the beast exactly was and/or who was behind it still remains unclear. That is the historical background of the movie. The film, however, is not a historical drama about the beast, but an action movie with a pinch of mystery in it. The action comes from the special envoy of King Louis XV, Grégoire de Fronsac (Samuel Le Bihan) and his Mohawk helper (Mark Dacascos). They end up with the most important family of the region, the de Morangias. Jean-François de Morangias (Vincent Cassel or Mr. Bellucci) is in love with his sister Marianne, who doesn't know about her brother's incestuous affection. Marianne is played by Belgian newcomer Émilie Dequenne, winner of the Golden Palm for best actress at the Cannes Film Festival, for the film "Rosetta"

THE place where all the important men of the region come together is a brothel, with the beautiful and expensive prostitute Sylvia being the main attraction. Sylvia  is played by Monica Bellucci, who else? But she is not simply a prostitute. She, too, is a special envoy as is revealed later on in the movie. In fact, although her part isn't that big, it is she who steers the course of events, through her lover de Fronsac, who becomes deeply in love with Marianne. An explanation as why women liked this film more than men may reside in the fact that the three main male characters are in part eclipsed by the two female leads, who both put in very strong performances.


Monica Bellucci shows her breasts and bum in a sex scene.

Karin Kristrom is a naked corpse.

Another woman is naked (full-frontal) in the bordello.

The film's strong point certainly isn't the script or the mushy ending on a boat, and it's often unclear why some fights take place. Furthermore,  in the second half of the movie everything becomes less coherent when director Christophe Gans (Crying Freeman) lets his imagination run wild. But this guy does have a strong imagination, resulting in some beautiful scenes and settings. And that's exactly one of the strong points of this film. You don't watch this movie for the story, you watch it for the beautiful scenery and lighting, the multiple camera angles in practically every scene, the beautiful (and historically acccurate) costumes and the sheer beauty of Monica Bellucci. Look for the superb and remarkable scene transition between Monica's naked body and the snow-covered woods. That's something Lawrence of Arabia didn't have!

Info from Amazon

The link leads to the region 1 North American DVD info, which is described briefly in yellow below.

ICMS describes the French DVD "It took me almost 11 hours to work my way through the French Collector's edition DVD. It's a box set that looks like a book and consists of 3 DVD's. It was practically immediately sold out but you can still see all its features at"

But Lawrence was partly filmed in the region where its story is supposed to take place. In this film not one single shot was filmed in the region where the events happened. They were mostly filmed in the Pyrenees, more than 200 miles from the Gévaudan, which is situated along the A75 motorway about halfway between Clermont-Ferrand and the Mediterranean. This region looks magnificent, even from the highway, so why not film a few scenes there ?
In the 18th century they organized a round-up of 40,000 men (the biggest in the history of France) to catch the beast. They caught nothing.
Scoop's comments on the American DVD: 

One critic put it succinctly:

"If you see one French costume drama martial arts werewolf secret society romance this year, make sure this is it."

This film looks spectacular. It has been compared to Crouching Tiger, and not without justification. It maintains a creepy atmosphere throughout. You might say it has the look and feel of a masterpiece.

It's just too gimmicky for me. The critic above forgot one element - the Mohawk Indian shaman from Quebec who is in touch with the elemental forces of nature, and can converse with the trees. These are European trees, but they were able to understand him, even though he spoke "tree" with a strong North American accent, often stressing the wrong leaf.

Oh, yeah, and the beast - created by Jim Henson's people - looks like a giant porcupine covered with rubber bands.

I have to admit that this film is the Citizen Kane of pre-revolutionary French, secret society, tree-talkin', kung-fu, giant ugly Muppet soap operas.

The region 1 DVD in the States offers thirty five minutes of deleted scenes with director's commentary (actually, very interesting stuff, and unlike the Canadian DVD, subtitled in English). One interesting detail in the director's commentary about the deleted scenes: the shepherdess who is killed when rescuing her lamb is the same woman whose body is found earlier in the film. The director needed to postpone the attack scene until later in the film, but needed a corpse earlier, so he split the scene up, hoping that nobody would notice that it was the same woman, seemingly restored to life!

The film may be viewed in French with English subtitles or dubbed into English. (The dubbing is not bad at all.)


Tuna's comments on the Canadian DVD:

Brotherhood of the Wolf (2001) was covered by others, and I was so disappointed that the three volume French collector's edition was sold out that I didn't bother ordering it. They have now released a three-disk collector's edition in Canada, and I was curious based on the existing reviews. The set is disappointing in one regard. The feature length commentaries are in French with no subtitles. Other than that, it is chock full of extras, including documentaries, story boards, deleted scenes, a special on the legend, and much more that I haven't had time to explore.

My take on it is that it is visually very impressive, and is a unique approach to weaving a yarn based on an historical occurrence, but the monster was rather lame, and the film got very muddled in the last third. It does have very strong women's roles. 

The Critics Vote

  • consensus: two and a half stars. Roger Ebert 3/4, Berardinelli 3/4, BBC 2/5, 1.5/4

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it 7.2 
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, Scoop says, "this film is a C+. A surprisingly American-style genre movie made by a Frenchman in French. Tres silly, but entertaining". Tuna says , "The proper score is probably C+. The director achieved what he wanted to, and it has some very strong points, but people who don't like this sort of film won't be won over."

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