THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF THE BROTHERS GRIMM
Although celebrated as a classic by many, tom thumb is treacly and woolly-headed. The same sugary mawkishness infects The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm, although it is the better film of the two. The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm works better partly because George Pal doesnt set it in a cloyingly cardboard, stagebound version of Mittel-Europe, as he did with tom thumb, but goes and shoots on location in Bavaria. As a result, tom thumb seems entirely stagebound, The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm has a much greater sense of verisimilitude to it.
The stories themselves are dull and the film feels overly long. When he directed, George Pal always pitched things down to an incredibly simplistic level and The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm never transcends the soft-headedness at its core. Of the three stories, The Cobbler and the Elves is forgettably slight. The Dancing Princess at least perks up during the Gypsy sequences where the dance sequences are conducted with a determined sensuality and energy. The best of the episodes is The Singing Bone the stop-motion of the dragon is weak and the slapstick tone lowers the sequence but the fight between Terry-Thomas and the dragon is well choreographed and eventually allows the episode to win through to become the most well rounded of the stories.
However, when it comes to the wraparound story, Pal crucially never animates the Grimm Brothers as characters. Although the script is based on a non-fiction biography of the Grimms, we are shown little about them as people. We never understand their interest in fairytales Laurence Harveys Wilhelm obsessively chases after stories from anybody he comes across, while Carl Boehms Jacob is merely anally retentive. That is the sum total of the two brothers characterization. What the film fails to portray in any way is the fact the two brothers interest in fairy-tales was not some obsessive whim but came from a scholarly interest in Teutonic folklore.
George Pal created The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm as a Cinerama spectacle. It makes for mind boggling viewing today in even letterboxed video. It is filmed almost like a 3-D film, having things popped up and thrown at the audience. George Pal places the camera on top of or down at the wheel level of stagecoaches with the road rushing past on all sides of the screen, or sends it sweeping across the Bavarian landscapes with dizzying surround effect.
The lives of the Brothers Grimm were later put on film in Terry Gilliams equally fictionalized The Brothers Grimm (2005).
George Pals other genre films are The Great Rupert (1949), Destination Moon (1950), When Worlds Collide (1951), The War of the Worlds (1953), The Naked Jungle (1954), Conquest of Space (1955), tom thumb (1958), The Time Machine (1960), Atlantis, the Lost Continent (1961), 7 Faces of Dr Lao (1964), The Power (1967) and Doc Savage The Man of Bronze (1975).
Full film available online here:-