Saturday, September 7, 2013

Wolf Pact

When Brotherhood of the Wolf (2001) came out, I saw previews - I thought it looked like a brainless gore-fest. Which is not what I like, although I know tastes differ. But some film bloggers (I forget just who) started talking about it, and I got the idea that it was a superior sort of cult movie.

The story takes place in France, after the Enlightenment but before the Revolution. Our heroes are Samuel Le Bihan, a royal naturalist and rake, and Marc Dacascos, his Mohawk companion and blood brother. We meet them arriving in a backwater of France, in the rain. A gang of men in dresses are beating up an old man and young woman. They come to the rescue, but it is already apparent that nothing is what it seems.

The naturalist has come to find the truth about the Wolf of Gevaudan, a creature that has been terrorizing the countryside - and to capture it, if possible. In the process he will meet the local nobility, priests, whores, soldiers and gypsies. But will he capture the beast?

In some ways, this is a classic costume swashbuckler. I savored phrases like "les crimes de la bête" - we watched the French version with subtitles. Sometimes, it seemed like a costume comedy of manners - a Ridicule with wolves or Liaisons Dangereuses - tres dangereuses. Then again, there were grisly horror scenes and martial-arts-style action  scenes. The direction style that ties this all together slides in and out of a dreamy trance state.

Finally, the question of the reality behind the wolf - monster, hoax, demonic presence, something else? This is handled adroitly; at least it kept me guessing for longer than I would have thought.

So, loved it. It looks like the director and Dacascos, the Mohawk, made a version Crying Freeman, from the Japanese comic strip - we used to read this when we lived there, and it was just a naked man floating in a void, so it should be interesting.

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