'Two Brothers', a UK-French film collaboration project under the direction of Jean-Jacques Annaud (known for 'The Bear' and 'The Name of the Rose') and written by Alain Godard and Annaud, is at once the heartwarming and heartwrenching tale of two Bengal tigers, While the advertising makes it seem like a Disney-esque film, this is not really one for younger children, so parents should beware. In today's world there are many people who are not particularly nice toward wild animals; a hundred years ago, the time period during which this was set, there was even less regard for the great animals of the jungle, seen as objects for sport and amusement rather than creatures of integrity in their own right. I went with two adults, one of whom felt it necessary to leave the theatre for a brief while; there were children present in the theatre, and again I saw parents taking their children out at some of the more troublesome scenes - unfortunately, many didn't return for the happy ending. This is a great film, worth five stars without doubt, but alas, the marketing is inappropriate, and would get a single star from me.
Guy Pearce plays the 'great white hunter' character of McRory, a world-famous hunter-explorer of European origin and fame, a known author as well as second-class Indiana Jones, looking for what will sell back in the London auction houses -- he changes from animal skins and tusks to statues and antiquities. There are no other actors of wide fame, but all do a good job, from the Westerners in the French Indochine to the locals, from tribal persons to high potentates. All seem to have reasons to be against the tigers, save a few, who eventually come round and help the tiger brothers through their troubles.
The real stars of the film, of course, are the tiger cubs Kumal and Sangha, in addition to the other tigers, including the mother Tigress and the great Tiger Father. The lead trainer, Thierry Le Portier, a fellow Frenchman to Annuad who worked on 'The Bear', and trainer Randy Miller stated that 30 tigers in all were used, and one of the biggest efforts was to have tiger cubs available -- they grow so rapidly, they might not be the same size over the course of shooting. In the end, the effects and training were magnificent, and given the kinds of harrowing treatment the tigers were to have received (usually, thankfully, just off-screen), one truly hopes the 'no animals were harmed in this production' pledge at the end was in earnest.
The plot is a twisty one, following the two tiger brothers who are separated early, and each have different adventures (not all of them nice, and many downright disturbing) until they are reunited in a festival, when they are able to recapture their kinship and their brotherly playfulness. The movie has the obligatory happy ending; I was on the verge of tears from frustration and sorrow at different points of the film, but the only time I actually did shed a tear was as the sunlight pierced the tell-tale marker on one of the tigers (and those who see the film will understand this, but I don't want to give away the ending).
The settings in Cambodia and Thailand are natural settings, still undisturbed jungles in many areas, and the temple settings as the home of the tiger family is a wonderful device. The Angor Wat Temples, now very popular tourist destinations, had to be closed to such traffic during the filming. The music is dramatic and playful as appropriate, but very much in the background; rarely did I notice the music for the visuals.
A wonderful film in many ways, it is a statement for humane treatment of animals. Unfortunately, this sometimes involves disturbing scenes of mistreatment, which again makes this a film not for young children. Parental discretion and previewing is advised.
An absolutely beautiful movie, and a very moving story. Definitely a movie I will be recommending to everyone. As writer/director Annaud has commented, and as anyone who knows animals can tell you, tigers are intelligent, emotional creatures and the premise of "Two Brothers" is simple: the tigers want to live their lives in peace. The movie does not sugar-coat the way tigers have been treated (not that there is any on-screen gore) and so may prove to be an emotional roller-coaster for the sympathetic. Hopefully the richness and skill of the storytelling will reach out and make even more people sympathetic to their fellow creatures.
"Two Brothers" is beautifully photographed, and very intelligent in its depiction of the tigers. They even got the tigers' vocalizations right--tigers have more of a vocabulary than most movie makers seem to know about, but Annaud got it right.
Favorite scenes: The woman reading typical early-20th-century "big game hunting adventures" to her son while he and the tiger cub snooze happily side-by-side, and the central human's personal epiphany when he realizes that the animals he's been hunting can think and love.
"Two Brothers" asks that you open your heart, and it rewards you greatly if you do. It absolutely deserves being called a "family movie".
on July 28, 2006
Director Jean-Jacques Annaud knows how to open our hearts.
In 1988 his acclaimed masterpiece, THE BEAR, introduced us to that orphaned cub whose feisty and inquisitive ways quickly won the viewers over. This time, with TWO BROTHERS, it's Annaud's extraordinary tigers that warm our hearts and stir our sympathies.
In the ruins of the jungle-covered temples of 1930s French Indochina two tiger cubs are born, later named by their human masters Kumal and Sangha. Kumal is the fierce one. He is brave, curious and quite protective of the playful but rather timid Sangha.
The world of men brings tragedy to the tiger family. The cubs' father is killed and Kumal, separated from his mother and brother, is captured and eventually sold to a small-time circus. Soon after, Sangha also gets caught by a hunting party. Initially a pet and playmate for the local French administrator's young son, he unfortunately ends up in the menagerie of a native prince where he is 'trained' (in another words, tortured) to become a fighter for sport.
A year later we see that Man's sadism and greed has caused a twisted role reversal on the tigers. The once aggressive Kumal is now a skilled circus attraction, complacent in doing tricks for his masters. Sangha, his timid and loving nature beaten and starved out of him, is now a trained and angry killer. When the prince challenges the circus to have their tiger fight his champion, Kumal and Sangha are reunited as enemies.
As every pet owner will tell you, animals are as much individuals as any human being. Each cat or dog is unique, possessing his or her own personality, character, intelligence. Annaud's magic is in his abilty to capture that special spirit of every animal he films. As with THE BEAR, this gifted filmmaker doesn't merely focus on the animals' physical beauty, he goes deeper, highlighting feelings and emotions. One sees the sense of loss on the face of the exhausted mother tiger when she can no longer keep up with the speed of the car that carries away her remaining cub. Baby Kumal's precocious ferocity shows in his powerful eyes and the snarl of his mouth. Love and anger, joy and remorse show upon the faces and body movements of these tigers. The scene where the old tiger, Mighty Caesar, is being led outside to be put down and looks up at the cub Kumal, who he had taken under his nuturing protection, conveys not only all of his life's sadness and regret, it also tries to offer one last lesson and a hope to this little one who will now be replacing him. Most human actors today could only wish they possessed half of this cat's expressive abilities.
Speaking of human actors, I must mention the great performance that Guy Pearce gives as the English adventurer and hunter, Aidan McRory. His character truly is the one most responsible for the unlucky fate of the tiger cubs. To protect one of his baggage handlers, he shoots the two brothers' father and takes away Kumal. McRory, however, quickly grows fond of little Kumal and his experiences with the cub eventually lead him to abandon sport hunting. Another fantastic actor here is Freddie Highmore, who plays the young French boy who loves Sangha.
TWO BROTHERS, filmed on-location in Cambodia and Thailand, is one entrancing film that will hold your interest and your heart. From the opening scene of the male tiger stalking the jungle's density in search of a mate until the end, when the brother tigers must make their decisions, you will feel a part of this world.
A beautiful and magical movie.
on November 18, 2004
I am constantly surprised that people seem to think that just because there are animals in a movie, that means it is a "children's movie". There is something strangely askew when films dealing with nature are equated with films for children, when in fact, the harsh brutality of nature is often something from which people want to protect their children (perhaps foolishly). The "Disney" presentation of nature distorts reality to such a degree that I am surprised they have not contrived to update Bambi to a more modern and viewer-friendly tale.
Deux Freres is an understated and beautiful film with an underlying message. The film presents nature and its players in a way that does not preach, does not assume, and does not condescend. The danger in which the tigers (of the film's title) find themselves is quite real, quite pervasive, and can therefore be disturbing to sensitive viewers.
on July 16, 2004
"Two Brothers" is a very rare film among the bombastically stupid kiddie pleasers that have filled in the movie landscape for some time now. It does what the best children's films do: It rises above the genre in such a way that it is not a children's film. It supposes that children are intelligent, thoughtful, and emotionally eloquent, and these terms describe the film well. The story surrounds two tiger cubs separated by fate and how they change the humans with whom they interact. One is rescued by a hunter and the other is taken in by a young French boy. The film meditates on issues such as animal cruelty and the choices we make in regard to nature itself. Jean Jacques Annaud, known for films such as "Seven Years in Tibet", and the similar, "The Bear," has made a film of unusual power. As in "The Bear", the dialogue is kept to a minimum, and story is all the more eloquent for it. There is no rapid fire, sound bite dialogue. When the two human leads speak (a great white hunter played by Guy Pearce & young Freddie Highmore) they communicate through, simple, direct dialogue that is somehow more moving by sparing us drizzly speeches or dewey eyed sentimentality. The tigers are wonderous to watch. The movie was shot on High Definition Digital Video instead of film, which also helps with the special effects. The illusion is created by simply filming the animals and adding some CGI alterations here and there. The result is magical. This is somehting of an art house children's film, it feels like a French import and its pacing and visual style. It is distinctly "non-Americanized" and I am grateful for that. While film's like "Shrek 2" which is clever yet obvious dominate the box office, I am hopeful that audiences will discover this film either in its theatrical engagement or on video and DVD. Kids who have seen it have told me it is the best movie they have ever seen, which I think is due to the fact there are no longer any films that credit them with having an attention span or interest in a film that has a fully realized, emotional story (save of course PJ Hogan's spectacular version of "Peter Pan", another underrated gem). More than that, adults will be every bit as enchanted and as taken by suprise as I was.
on June 25, 2004
This movie, "Two Brothers" is magnificent! The script/storyline is great, the acting on the part of the Tigers is absolutely amazing, and best of all, you leave the movie theater with a smile on your face!
I must warn you however: This movie contains scenes that depict violence towards Animals. Of course, the Animals in the movie arent really hurt, but when you realize that things that happen in the movie actually go on in this cruel world that we live in, it will be sobering.
You may actually hate the human race a little after seeing this movie.
But, thankfully, a couple of humans redeem themselves (atleast in the movie they do) by movie's end.
The movie begins with the two precious, and beautiful Tiger cubs, Sangha and Kumal, as they frolic and play in the jungle with their parents.
Then, as usual, humans come along and ruin all that was once beautiful.
The Cubs are seperated and learn just how mean humans can really be.
But fate had something else in store, that the hunters hadnt counted on.........a beautiful, happy reunion of the Two Brothers that will leave a happy tear in your eye, a nice chill up and down your spine, and best of all, a toasty warm feeling in your Soul.
You'll even laugh a few times, too!
This movie accomplishes exactly what it set out to do: To make us realize that HUMANS ARE THE TRUE ANIMALS, AND THE TRUE PREDATORS, AND THAT IT'S UP TO US HUMANS WHO HAVE LOVE AND COMPASSION IN OUR SOULS, TO SAVE THESE BEAUTIFUL ANIMALS, FOR ANIMALS ARE GOD'S CHILDREN AS MUCH AS THE HUMAN ANIMAL IS!
Tigers are coming closer and closer to becoming extinct, and WE MUST ACT NOW OR THEY WILL BE FOREVER GONE FROM OUR PLANET!
We must NOT allow that to happen.
How do we prevent it?
By treating Animals, like the beautiful, precious Souls that they are. The same Souls that were created from God's loving hands, just like the human animals were.
This movie proves that Animal Souls, like human Souls, share love, and that love truly can conquer all!
BUT, There is something very important that you should know, when enjoying the TWO BROTHERS movie.
At the end of the movie, we see the WWF (World Wildlife Fund) logo, and it gives the appearance that the group is trying to save Tigers from extinction and that may be. BUT here is what they DONT tell you:
The WWF is PRO Hunting!
That's right, the World WILDLIFE Fund supports hunting.
And even more disturbing is that the WWF is now supporting CRUEL EXPERIMENTS ON ANIMALS!
Clearly the WWF are NOT friends of the Animals.
In fact, a case can be made that if there werent neanderthals running around the forests killing Animals, that Tigers would NOT be endangered to begin with!
So, the WWF may help save Tigers from extinction, but once there is a sustainable amount of Tigers in the wild, the WWF would probably support shooting them again.
The WWF is a supporter of injecting harmful chemicals into the bodies of innocent Animals. And they support the fact that these Animals will die, cruel, painful, totally unnecessary deaths.
So, by all means, enjoy this movie. I did.
But know that when you see that WWF logo at the end of the credits, that if you support them financially, you will be funding Animal cruelty and Animal deaths.
I wanted you to know that.
For more info, please visit [...]
on August 24, 2005
I caught the end of this movie on cable and was entranced, so when it came round again I happily sat down with my kids (7 and 5) to watch it all. Well, okay, I didn't expect my autistic son to pay much attention, but I thought it would be fine family fare for the rest of us.
What a shock!
This is an excellent film, but it is essentially historically accurate in that in the 1920s most people were both ignorant of and brutal to most animals, especially "wild beasts." I will say right now my daughter demanded to know why some people were treating the animals badly. The movie does not at all encourage people to treat animals poorly; but by merely showing and not preaching, my daughter got a powerful message about our responsibility for our own behaviours. She spent a lot of time afterwards talking about how people need to learn about animals before doing things with them or to them.
But what really startled me was my son's reaction. He started off not paying attention, leaping around the room playing with a Star Wars toy. There is a scene where one cub is trapped in a box on the back of a truck, and the mama tiger comes galloping to try and rescue him. My son suddenly dropped his toy and began yelling excitedly, "Go mama go mama!" When the rescue failed, he burst into tears and was almost inconsolable. Star Wars forgotten, he remained glued to the film, clutching a tiger toy he had never cared about before.
He absolutely got that these tigers were family, and the pain of separation, and the joy of reunion. It is a deeply moving film. We went through most of a box of kleenex watching it.
I can't emphasize enough the sheer beauty of this film, the degree to which the music supports but never takes over, the delicate pacing of the story -- exciting moments but none of that unrelenting hyperness of most "children's" movies.
Some people have complained that it gives an exaggerated idea of tigers, in that it took 30 tigers to do all the stunts, or that it's too sentimental because it doesn't ever show tigers as mean. Actually, there are scenes where it is demonstrated how dangerous the tigers are (no gore, but kids get the idea), and one of the concerns expressed repeatedly by the humans -- even the ones who like the tigers -- is that they are wild animals, and as such can't be taken for granted or presumed to be safe. Personally, I felt the movie -- given the necessities of film making, such as multiple tigers -- was pretty honest about tigers. The whole point is to let the tigers be tigers, in their own habitat, not to be either vicious or sentimental about them. And frankly, most tigers don't go around mindlessly attacking anything that moves out of blood-thirstiness. They don't attack each other for entertainment, unlike the humans who force them to. Tigers are predators, not monsters.
This is not a movie one could put on and let young kids watch by themselves. They need their parents around to clutch and cry with and laugh with. But that is well worth doing! It is a wonderful experience, and can generate a lot of conversation afterwards.
Now... will "Duma" play anywhere we can see it on the big screen?
on June 24, 2004
Two Brothers was a movie that really surprised me. I went into the movie with, among others, a 13 year old who thought the movie was going to be "retarded." Instead, the audience was treated to a definite surprise. People, many of whom were adults, were cheering at climatic points in the movie. There was even a rousing round of applause at the film's conclusion, in one of those moments in which you are clapping more to express your own pleasure than to acknowledge anyone. Two Brothers is set in, I'm guessing, early to mid-20th century Thailand. It is the story of two tigers who suffer heartbreak, trials and eventual separation at the hands of humans. The movie is truimphant and complete. This is definitely not a kid's movie but a real story with real emotions that carries a strong message. It manages to further hone the family film staples of parent-child relationships by adding subtle, ingenious touches, such as those employed to distinguish tiger from tiger. Various camera techniques, like zooms and blurs, are used to convey the sizable emotion of the tigers. The closing "reunion scene" might just be the best ever for a family film. Humans aren't left out, however. We get strong performances from a varied cast, including the only name I can remember, Guy Pearce. The human relationships are given weight and complexity, though the film manages to do so without letting us forget that this movie is truly about the tigers themselves. The film is even complete with some of the most realistic and balanced images of Asian/White relationships I've ever seen. For example, the white man and asian woman fall in love because they understand each other and share the some love for nature, not because he's James Bond and she's amazed by his blue eyes. There's even, gasp, an asian man with a caucasian woman. This relationship is both realistic and hilarious, with the man being His Excellency of Thailand and the French woman being the kind of flighty and materialistic person someone in his position would have been with, regardless of race. But, even though the film even includes a very subtle lesson of what race is and what it is not, the bigger mission of building awareness about endangerment of tigers in the wild is accomplished forcefully and fully. I left the theatre with a 10 year old who was outraged by the way humanity generally cares so little for the Earth that gives us so much. I'm willing to wager that I wasn't the only one who left the theatre with an outraged young mind.
on July 19, 2004
"Two Brothers" tells the story of two tiger cubs, living in the jungles of Asia, who are suddenly split up when treasure hunters who are plundering a temple shoot the father tiger in self-defense. One of the tiger cubs, Kumal, is found by the expedition leader Aidan McRory (played by Guy Pearce). When McRory is thrown into prison, Kumal is sold to a gypsy circus. The other tiger, Sangha, escapes with his mother. Mother and son are separated during the Prince's hunting expedition, and Sangha is found in a cave by the son of the regional governor who brings the tiger home. But, determined to be a danger to the boy, he is given as a gift to the Prince. The tigers re-unite at a staged fight and manage to escape with McRory hot on their trail.
If you've ever seen Director Jean-Jacques Annaud's other animal film, "The Bear," it's told in much the same way -- very little dialogue between the human characters. The animal trainers and the director did an amazing job with the tigers so, at times, I could almost tell exactly what was going through the tigers' minds. Also, Annaud films some of the scenes from their point of view to give that additional depth to the characters. Guy Pearce shows some fine work as McRory who is torn between the spoils of hunting and his love of Kumal. Great scenic shots of the Asian jungles, too. It's just a great family film.
on July 20, 2004
I saw this movie yesterday, and I can't stop thinking about it. It moved me to tears three times, and I can count on one hand the movies that have made me do that. The tigers were absolutely majestic, the photography was superb, and the story line was great. It did have a beautiful ending, which was of course desired. I loved "The Bear" too, and I am so glad this movie was made. Tigers are my favorite wild animal, and I have to say seeing the Bengals in this masterpiece cemented it even more. It was a joy. I plan on buying it as soon as it comes out so I can see it again and again.