The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm


2h 9m 1962
The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm

Brief Synopsis

Fanciful biography of the German fairy-tale collectors, with reenactments of three of their stories.

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Genre
Family
Musical
Biography
Adaptation
Release Date
Jan 1962
Premiere Information
New York opening: 7 Aug 1962
Production Company
Cinerama, Inc.; Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc.
Distribution Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc.
Country
United States
Location
West Germany
Screenplay Information
Based on the book Die Brüder Grimm by Hermann Gerstner (Munich, 1952).

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 9m
Sound
Cinerama 7-Track, Mono (Westrex Recording System) (35 mm prints)
Color
Color (Metrocolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.59 : 1

Synopsis

In Bavaria in the early 19th century, brothers Wilhelm and Jacob Grimm are commissioned to write a history of the local duke's family. Wilhelm finds it difficult to concentrate on the task, however, and irritates his wife Dorothea and his brother by devoting his time to collecting and writing fairy tales. One evening he tells to his children the story of "The Dancing Princess." A king offers his daughter in marriage to any man who can discover why each night she wears out a pair of slippers. A young woodsman dons a cloak that renders him invisible, follows the princess into the woods, and watches as she joins a band of gypsies in their dancing. He also joins in, and the two fall in love. The woodsman later reveals her secret to the king, and the king commands that they marry, much to the princess' delight . Wilhelm unsuccessfully tries to convince his bookseller friend Stossel of the value of his book of fairy tales by telling the tale of "The Cobbler and the Elves" to a group of small children. An old shoemaker spends Christmas Eve carving toy elves for orphans and neglects to repair his customers' shoes. The elves come to life while he is sleeping and complete the unfinished work . A short time later, the duke sends Wilhelm to another town to research a branch of his family. Wilhelm meets Anna Richter, an old woman who lives in the forest. Though many of the townspeople regard her as a witch, children flock to her cottage to hear her stories, one of which is "The Singing Bone." A servant slays a ferocious dragon and is himself slain by his cowardly master, who takes credit for killing the beast. One of the murdered man's bones appears in the form of a musical instrument that sings of the treachery. The master confesses to his crime; the servant is magically restored to life; and the king commands the master to become his servant's servant . Wilhelm, inspired by many more of Anna's tales, leaves the forest but loses the duke's manuscript along the way. The duke dismisses him, and Jacob decides to marry his fiancée, Greta, and work independently. Wilhelm becomes gravely ill and is near death when his fairy tale characters appear and plead for his life so that he may tell their stories. Wilhelm's miraculous recovery prompts Jacob to postpone his wedding and to support his brother's family. The two brothers' work eventually wins them recognition from the Berlin Royal Academy. Wilhelm is disappointed when the Academy cites only Jacob's scholarly work and ignores his own fairy tales, which have received wide popular acclaim. His despondency is short-lived, however; they arrive in Berlin and are greeted not only by Academy officials, but by hundreds of appreciative children anxious to hear a story.

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Genre
Family
Musical
Biography
Adaptation
Release Date
Jan 1962
Premiere Information
New York opening: 7 Aug 1962
Production Company
Cinerama, Inc.; Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc.
Distribution Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc.
Country
United States
Location
West Germany
Screenplay Information
Based on the book Die Brüder Grimm by Hermann Gerstner (Munich, 1952).

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 9m
Sound
Cinerama 7-Track, Mono (Westrex Recording System) (35 mm prints)
Color
Color (Metrocolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.59 : 1

Award Wins

Best Costume Design

1962
Mary Wills

Award Nominations

Best Art Direction

1962

Best Cinematography

1962

Best Score

1962

Articles

The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm


The Cinerama film process made its debut in 1952. One of numerous technical innovations (including 3-D) meant to combat the threat of television and get people back into movie theaters, it employed three cameras running simultaneously to create a 146-degree projected picture. The first Cinerama films, such as This Is Cinerama (1952), were little more than elaborate documentaries made to showcase the technique. By the early 1960s, however, the MGM-Cinerama unit was looking for full-scale fiction stories to produce in the wide-screen process. By luck, producer Sol Siegel remembered a script that had been laying on his desk that would combine a biography of the 19th-century Bavarian fairy tale writers, the Brothers Grimm, with sequences based on their stories. And, as luck would also have it, the script was attached to George Pal, the multiple Oscar-nominated special effects expert who had created a puppet-animation series known as "Puppetoons" in the 1940s, employing a new technique.

Pal was a natural for the project. A Hungarian by birth, he was more than familiar with the middle-European world created in the Grimms' fantasies. Pal was the creative force behind a number of animated shorts as well as such epic effects films as The War of the Worlds (1953), The Time Machine (1960), and Atlantis, the Lost Continent (1961). Pal's script intercut the biography with six of the brothers' tales (shortened to three in the final version due to the excessive running time). Within their attempts to write the story of a local squire's family, the brothers also relate some of their best-loved fairy tales: "The Dancing Princess" (a king offers his daughter's hand to anyone who can solve the puzzle of why she wears out a pair of shoes every day); "The Cobbler and the Elves" (a down-and-out shoemaker is helped by the wooden elves he has carved for the children of the village); and "The Singing Bone" (a dragon-killing servant gets revenge on his evil master).

Pal realized the picture was too big to handle himself and hired Henry Levin to direct the biography sequences while Pal oversaw the fantasy segments. Levin was no stranger to this kind of project; he had directed the Jules Verne fantasy Journey to the Center of the Earth (1959) and an Italian film, The Wonders of Aladdin (1961). Pal wanted to cast Peter Sellers and Alec Guinness as the brothers, but the studio opted for contract players Laurence Harvey and Karl Bohm, the German actor who had appeared in the British shocker Peeping Tom (1960) and later made several films with Rainer Werner Fassbinder. Pal did get his way on one demand for authenticity, he insisted on shooting in the Grimms' homeland. But plans to shoot in Kassel, the village where they were born, were stymied when he discovered it had been bombed out in World War II and rebuilt as a modern city. So the production moved to two tiny Bavarian villages and the famous castles at Neuschwanstein and Weikersheim. Many locals were added to fill out the large cast of well-known performers, ranging from ingenue Yvette Mimieux to character actors Oscar Homolka and Walter Slezak to comedian Buddy Hackett.

Once location shooting was complete, however, there was still extensive work to be done in the studio stateside. Here Pal and his son David's specialty really shone in the painstaking process of creating the Puppetoon elves for the cobbler story and the dragon slain in "The Singing Bone."

The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm premiered in the U.S. in August of 1962 and has the distinction of being the first dramatic story film shot and exhibited in the 3-camera Cinerama format. Several months later the epic all-star Western How the West Was Won (1962) opened to even better business in the Roadshow exhibitions that Cinerama theaters required. While these two films were successful box-office attractions (The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm did better in European markets, not surprisingly), the expense of production combined with the sale of Cinerama to Pacific Theatres ensured that these would be the last story films made in the format. Beginning with It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963), story films exhibited in Cinerama theaters were shot single-camera, usually in 70mm Ultra Panavision.

The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm was nominated for four Academy Awards including Best Color Cinematography, Best Color Art Direction, and Best Music Score Adaptation. It won the Oscar for Best Color Costume Design.

Producer: George Pal
Directors: George Pal, Henry Levin
Screenplay: Charles Beaumont, based on the stories of Wilhelm and Jacob Grimm
Cinematography: Paul Vogel
Editing: Walter Thompson
Production Design: Edward Carfagno, George Davis, Henry Grace, Richard Pefferle
Special Effects: David Pal, Tim Barr, Wah Chang, Robert Hoag, Gene Warren
Original Music: Leigh Harline
Principal Cast: Laurence Harvey (Wilhelm Grimm/The Cobbler), Karl Bohm (Jacob Grimm), Claire Bloom (Dorothea Grimm), Barbara Eden (Greta Heinrich), Yvette Mimieux (The Princess), Jim Backus (The King), Russ Tamblyn (The Woodsman/Tom Thumb), Buddy Hackett (Hans), Terry-Thomas (Ludwig), Beulah Bondi (The Gypsy), Ian Wolfe (Gruber).
C-136m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning. Descriptive Video.

by Rob Nixon
The Wonderful World Of The Brothers Grimm

The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm

The Cinerama film process made its debut in 1952. One of numerous technical innovations (including 3-D) meant to combat the threat of television and get people back into movie theaters, it employed three cameras running simultaneously to create a 146-degree projected picture. The first Cinerama films, such as This Is Cinerama (1952), were little more than elaborate documentaries made to showcase the technique. By the early 1960s, however, the MGM-Cinerama unit was looking for full-scale fiction stories to produce in the wide-screen process. By luck, producer Sol Siegel remembered a script that had been laying on his desk that would combine a biography of the 19th-century Bavarian fairy tale writers, the Brothers Grimm, with sequences based on their stories. And, as luck would also have it, the script was attached to George Pal, the multiple Oscar-nominated special effects expert who had created a puppet-animation series known as "Puppetoons" in the 1940s, employing a new technique. Pal was a natural for the project. A Hungarian by birth, he was more than familiar with the middle-European world created in the Grimms' fantasies. Pal was the creative force behind a number of animated shorts as well as such epic effects films as The War of the Worlds (1953), The Time Machine (1960), and Atlantis, the Lost Continent (1961). Pal's script intercut the biography with six of the brothers' tales (shortened to three in the final version due to the excessive running time). Within their attempts to write the story of a local squire's family, the brothers also relate some of their best-loved fairy tales: "The Dancing Princess" (a king offers his daughter's hand to anyone who can solve the puzzle of why she wears out a pair of shoes every day); "The Cobbler and the Elves" (a down-and-out shoemaker is helped by the wooden elves he has carved for the children of the village); and "The Singing Bone" (a dragon-killing servant gets revenge on his evil master). Pal realized the picture was too big to handle himself and hired Henry Levin to direct the biography sequences while Pal oversaw the fantasy segments. Levin was no stranger to this kind of project; he had directed the Jules Verne fantasy Journey to the Center of the Earth (1959) and an Italian film, The Wonders of Aladdin (1961). Pal wanted to cast Peter Sellers and Alec Guinness as the brothers, but the studio opted for contract players Laurence Harvey and Karl Bohm, the German actor who had appeared in the British shocker Peeping Tom (1960) and later made several films with Rainer Werner Fassbinder. Pal did get his way on one demand for authenticity, he insisted on shooting in the Grimms' homeland. But plans to shoot in Kassel, the village where they were born, were stymied when he discovered it had been bombed out in World War II and rebuilt as a modern city. So the production moved to two tiny Bavarian villages and the famous castles at Neuschwanstein and Weikersheim. Many locals were added to fill out the large cast of well-known performers, ranging from ingenue Yvette Mimieux to character actors Oscar Homolka and Walter Slezak to comedian Buddy Hackett. Once location shooting was complete, however, there was still extensive work to be done in the studio stateside. Here Pal and his son David's specialty really shone in the painstaking process of creating the Puppetoon elves for the cobbler story and the dragon slain in "The Singing Bone." The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm premiered in the U.S. in August of 1962 and has the distinction of being the first dramatic story film shot and exhibited in the 3-camera Cinerama format. Several months later the epic all-star Western How the West Was Won (1962) opened to even better business in the Roadshow exhibitions that Cinerama theaters required. While these two films were successful box-office attractions (The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm did better in European markets, not surprisingly), the expense of production combined with the sale of Cinerama to Pacific Theatres ensured that these would be the last story films made in the format. Beginning with It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963), story films exhibited in Cinerama theaters were shot single-camera, usually in 70mm Ultra Panavision. The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm was nominated for four Academy Awards including Best Color Cinematography, Best Color Art Direction, and Best Music Score Adaptation. It won the Oscar for Best Color Costume Design. Producer: George Pal Directors: George Pal, Henry Levin Screenplay: Charles Beaumont, based on the stories of Wilhelm and Jacob Grimm Cinematography: Paul Vogel Editing: Walter Thompson Production Design: Edward Carfagno, George Davis, Henry Grace, Richard PefferleSpecial Effects: David Pal, Tim Barr, Wah Chang, Robert Hoag, Gene Warren Original Music: Leigh Harline Principal Cast: Laurence Harvey (Wilhelm Grimm/The Cobbler), Karl Bohm (Jacob Grimm), Claire Bloom (Dorothea Grimm), Barbara Eden (Greta Heinrich), Yvette Mimieux (The Princess), Jim Backus (The King), Russ Tamblyn (The Woodsman/Tom Thumb), Buddy Hackett (Hans), Terry-Thomas (Ludwig), Beulah Bondi (The Gypsy), Ian Wolfe (Gruber). C-136m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning. Descriptive Video. by Rob Nixon

Quotes

Trivia

Walter Rilla spoke English with a heavy accent, so his voice was dubbed by another actor.

Producer George Pal originally wanted Peter Sellers and Alec Guinness to play the Brothers Grimm, but MGM vetoed the idea.

The first major motion picture filmed in 3-camera Cinerama.

Notes

Location scenes filmed in West Germany. Included in the cast of the book section are townspeople of Rothenburg and Dinkelsbühl and residents of the Rhine River Valley. Copyright claimant: Gallen Films.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Summer August 7, 1962

Released in United States March 1985

Released in United States Summer August 7, 1962

Released in United States March 1985 (Shown at FILMEX: Los Angeles International Film Exposition (The Fabulous Fifty-Hour Filmex Fantasy Marathon) March 14-31, 1985.)