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  • Writer's pictureShannon Heibler

Brotherhood of the Wolf (2001)

Ummm... that was not the movie I remembered. Not remotely.

I remembered incredibly cool costumes. The costumes I loved appear for roughly five minutes. Everything else is ...fine. I remembered Monica Bellucci's figure. That remains impressive.

Things I didn't remember? The plot. The faintly skeezy main character. The very cool but deeply problematic Noble Savage trope of Mani. The incest/rape. Vincent Cassel's sword that defies physics and sanity.

I also remember being introduced to the movie by college friends whose approval I was desperate for. In hindsight, I dunno, those friendships were odd. I'm grateful for some elements and embarrassed by others. This movie felt like those friendships, lots of style and enthusiasm but not a lot of mutual respect.

When it began with the noble writing about the madness overtaking the countryside in the form of revolution, I was like HECK YES EAT THE RICH! I forgot this movie did that! Alas. It doesn't do that and that would have been a much more interesting film.

I'm torn about writing much more. Mostly I want to write about how you could fix this film, but I don't know that it warrants it. Or more specifically, I'm unclear on the story being told so I'm not sure how to reconstruct. Is it about the respect for and inherent nobility of nature? Is it about crown versus church? Is it about learning to respect the things you don't understand? Or is it about an incestuous monster that brought a lion back from Africa and used it, at the behest of the Church, to terrorize women and children (specifically not men) so as to... make the king look dumb? K. I can't help that.

Ugh. In looking for a gif I have learned that there's a Director's Cut. For all my griping, I've seen Legend, I know how this goes. I might have to seek out the Director's Cut.

Found object sculpture/shadow work.


-Right away watching the movie I knew I wanted to do something like the work of Tim Noble and Sue Webster. They're a remarkable duo who create highly detailed shadows from what look like heaps of garbage. Seriously, take a minute and check their stuff out. The idea of creating a wolf from a heap of religious iconography, symbols of royalty, and other random animals was the idea.

-The blessing and curse with this one was that I had no idea what I was doing. I was in a slump of making, deeply unhappy with every bit of paint I put on a canvas, so I decided to leap into this one because I can't get mad at myself for sucking at something totally new (I mean, I can and I did, but theoretically...). It felt like an easier thing to say "fuck it let's go" about. I still made it halfway through and abandoned it for two weeks but IT'S DONE. MY SLUMP IS OVER. YAY.

-It is not as wolf shaped as I would have liked but this was really difficult. I mean, every bit of it. I watched a few interviews with Tim Noble and Sue Webster to learn how they approached their art (process? materials? anything?) but they gave the incredibly frustrating answer of "we don't really plan anything we just see what happens. I used random animals from the Kinder Suprises I bought myself whenever I wanted to scream at my old job (so I had a lot!), random odds and ends from old craft projects, plus some crosses. tiaras, and animal figures from Dollar Store. So it was all "on theme". I have an impressive variety of glues in my stash but it was really difficult to get things to set quickly. There are some wacky angles in there and gluing it while making sure it hit the right shapes, while working in the dark with my one light source and inevitably getting my hand in the way of the shadow was at times Very Frustrating.

-I wish I could have disguised the shape of the wolf a little bit better in the pile but I'm very happy to just marvel at what other artists can do.

-For a first attempt, I'm thrilled. It's almost exactly what I imagined and achieving that is worth celebrating.

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