|The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm|
Souvenir program cover
|Directed by||Henry Levin
George Pal (fairy tale sequences)
|Produced by||George Pal|
|Screenplay by||Charles Beaumont
David P. Harmon
|Story by||David P. Harmon|
|Music by||Leigh Harline
Bob Merrill (songs)
|Edited by||Walter A. Thompson|
George Pal Productions
Cinerama Releasing Corporation
The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm is a 1962 American film directed by Henry Levin and George Pal. The latter was the producer and also in charge of the stop motion animation. The film was one of the highest-grossing films of 1962. It won one Oscar and was nominated for three additional Academy Awards. Several prominent actors — including Laurence Harvey, Karlheinz Böhm, Jim Backus, Barbara Eden, and Buddy Hackett — are in the film.
It was filmed in the Cinerama process, which was photographed in an arc with three lenses, on a camera that produced three strips of film. Three projectors, in the back and sides of the theatre, produced a panoramic image on a screen that curved 146 degrees around the front of the audience.
The story focuses on the Grimm brothers, Wilhelm (Laurence Harvey) and Jacob (Karlheinz Böhm), and is biographical and fantastical at the same time. They are working to finish a history for a local Duke (Oscar Homolka), though Wilhelm is more interested in collecting fairy tales and often spends their money to hear them from locals. Tales such as "The Dancing Princess" and "The Cobbler and the Elves" are integrated into the main plot. One of the tales is told as an experiment to three children in a book store to see if publishing a collection of fairytales has any merit. Another tale, "The Singing Bone", is told by an old woman (Martita Hunt) in the forest who tells stories to children, while the uninvited Wilhelm secretly listens through an open window. The culmination of this tale involves a jeweled dragon and features the most involved usage of the film's special effects.
Wilhelm loses the manuscript of the Duke's family history while writing down this third story - he is supposed to be collecting additional information for the family history - and the brothers cannot meet their deadline. They are required to pay their rent, which was waived while they worked. As a result of wading through a stream in an effort to retrieve the manuscript (which fell into the water after his briefcase broke open), Wilhelm becomes critically ill with potentially fatal pneumonia. He dreams that at night various fairytale characters come to him, begging him to name them before he dies. In the dream, Russ Tamblyn reprises his role as Tom Thumb from the 1958 film. His fever breaks and Wilhelm recovers completely, continuing his own work while his brother publishes regular books including a history of German grammar and a book on law. Jacob, shaken by his brother's experience, begins to collaborate on the fairy tales with Wilhelm.
They are ultimately invited to receive honorary membership at the Berlin Royal Academy, which makes no mention of the tales in their invitation. Jacob prepares to make a speech deliberately insulting the Academy for snubbing Wilhelm. As their train pulls into the station, hordes of children arrive, chanting, "We want a story!" Wilhelm begins, "Once upon a time, there were two brothers." The children cheer, and the film ends with a caption card that reads "…and they lived happily ever after."
In the mid 1950s George Pal left Paramount, where he had worked for a number of years. In 1956 he announced the formation of his own company, Galaxy Pictures, saying he would make six films, including an adaptation of The Time Machine written by David Duncan; Captain Cook, based on the novel Lost Eden; a film about Atlantis; and The Brothers Grimm based on a script by David Harmon based on a biography of the brothers by Dr Hermann Gertner. Pal ended up signing an agreement with MGM to finance Galaxy's slate, the first film produced being tom thumb.
Pal wanted to cast Peter Sellars and Alec Guiness as the brothers but was over-ruled by the studio who wanted Laurence Harvey and Karl Boehm.
The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm was produced and exhibited in the original 3-panel Cinerama widescreen process. It was the first Cinerama feature that attempted to tell a cohesive story, unlike previous productions, which had all been travelogues. It was followed a few months later by a second such film, How the West Was Won, after which single-lens Cinerama was used for narrative films.
George Pal said three fairtales were chosen which would look good in Cinerama. He also wanted to use lesser known fairytales so the audience did not know how they ended: The Dancing Princess, The Cobbler and the Elves and The Singing Bone.
Filming took place on location in Bavaria.
By September 1962 the film had been seen by a million people, 60% of them adults.
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