|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|
|Based on||biography The Brothers Grimm by Dr Hermann Gerstner|
|Music by||Leigh Harline|
Bob Merrill (songs)
|Edited by||Walter A. Thompson|
George Pal Productions
Cinerama Releasing Corporation
|Budget||$6.25 million or $6 million|
The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm is a 1962 American fantasy 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 and Jacob, and is biographical and fantastical at the same time. They are working to finish a history for a local Duke, 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 fairy tales has any merit. Another tale, "The Singing Bone", is told by an old woman 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 fairy tale 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. Wilhelm's fever breaks, and he 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 Studios, which had been his base for a number of years. In March 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 adapted from a biography of the brothers by Dr Hermann Gerstner. (Pal had bought the screen rights to Gerstner's biography in February 1956 and hired Harmon in March).)
Pal signed an agreement with MGM to finance Galaxy's slate, the first film produced being tom thumb (1958), based on a Grimm fairytale. In 1957 Pal announce he wanted Grimm to follow tom thumb with Alan Young and Eddie Bracken in the leading roles. In April 1958 he signed Mary Brown to do the costumes.
In August 1959 Pal announced that key roles would be played by Russ Tamblyn, Alan Young and Yvette Mimieux. Tamblyn would make the film - which would be shot in Europe - after he got out of the army. In December 1959 Pal was reportedly seeking Bing Crosby for a lead role. That month Stan Ferberg was reportedly adding "special material" to the film.
Pal then delayed the film again so that he could make Atlantis, the Lost Continent. In August 1960 it seemed the film would be postponed indefinitely when Pal announced he intended to make The Return of the Time Machine. However that film was postponed (it would never be made) and in January 1961 Pal announced Grimm would definitely be his next film.
Mimieux wound up playing the dancing princess in the film while Barbara Eden was borrowed from 20th Century Fox to play Boehm's love interest.
The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm was produced and exhibited in the original three-panel Cinerama widescreen process. MGM had signed a deal with Cinerama to make four films that attempted to tell a cohesive story, unlike previous productions, which had all been travelogues. How the West Was Won would be the first film and in March 1961 MGM announced Grimm would be the second. (After these two a single-lens Cinerama was used for narrative films.)
George Pal said three fairy tales were chosen which would look good in Cinerama. He also wanted to use lesser-known fairy tales so the audience did not know how they ended: The Dancing Princess, The Cobbler and the Elves and The Singing Bone.
Pal left for Munich in April 1961 saying he will use "every trick in the books" in the film. "We hope to get some wonderful special effects especially."
Filming started 1 July 1961 (How the West Was Won started in June.) It took place on location in Bavaria, at Rothenberg and Dinkelsbuel. (Kassel, where the Grimms lived, had been bombed out.) After two months filming in Germany the unit returned to Hollywood. Henry Levin directed the Grimm brothers sequences while Pal did the fairyale ones.
By September 1962 the film had been seen by a million people, 60% of them adults.
Original high quality elements for the film are damaged and incomplete, and scattered among various international archives. As of August 2018, it is the only film originally shot in Cinerama to remain unrestored. The cost of a full digital scan and restoration of the best surviving elements has been estimated by film preservationist Robert A. Harris at between $1 million to $2 million.
MGM/UA Home Video released the film on VHS and LaserDisc in the U.S. in 1989 and 1992, respectively, and on LaserDisc in Japan in 1997. Since then, other than a bootleg Italian DVD from a low quality source, there have been no further releases on home video.