Gretel and Hansel

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Gretel and Hansel is a 2020 horror film directed by Oz Perkins, based on the Brothers Grimm fairy tale Hänsel and Gretel. The film is set in medieval Germany and follows the story of Gretel and Hansel, two little brothers who are kicked out of their home by their mother due to poverty. The two venture into the woods in search of food and shelter, but soon find themselves in a dark and dangerous world, ruled by an evil witch.

The film is a dark and disturbing interpretation of the classic fairy tale. Perkins creates an oppressive and claustrophobic atmosphere, and the characters are tormented by doubts and uncertainties. The terror scenes are realistic and frightening, and the ending is a twist that leaves its mark.

The cast of the film consists of Sophia Lillis (Gretel), Sam Leakey (Hansel), Alice Krige (Holda the witch) and Charles Babalola (the huntsman). Lillis and Leakey give great performances, and Krige is terrifying as the witch.

Gretel and Hansel is a well-made and disturbing horror film that fans of the genre will enjoy. It is an original and faithful interpretation of the classic fairy tale, offering an immersive and memorable cinematic experience.

Here are some of the themes that are explored in the film:

  • Survival: Gretel and Hansel must fight to survive in a hostile and dangerous world.
  • The family: The brothers have to deal with their relationship with their mother, who abandoned them.
  • Fear: The brothers must face their deepest fears to survive.

The film was received positively by critics, who praised the atmosphere, the performances and the ending. Gretel and Hansel was a commercial success, grossing over $25 million worldwide.

Plot

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The plot of Gretel and Hansel begins in a medieval village, where poverty and famine are rampant. Gretel and Hansel are two little brothers who live with their mother, a cruel and hungry woman who is unable to provide for them.

One day, the mother decides to abandon her children in the woods, with the intention of letting them die. Gretel and Hansel manage to escape and venture into the woods, looking for food and shelter.

The two brothers face many pitfalls during their journey. They are attacked by wild animals, get lost in the woods and fall into deadly traps.

Finally, Gretel and Hansel find a house in the middle of the woods. The house is inhabited by a kind and generous woman, who offers them food and shelter. The brothers are overjoyed, but soon realize that the woman is not who she says she is.

The woman is actually an evil witch, who captures children to eat them. Gretel and Hansel must find a way to escape the witch and return home.

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Differences Between Fairy Tale and Film

Here are some of the main differences between the fairy tale Hänsel and Gretel and the film Gretel and Hansel:

  • Setting: the fairy tale is set in an indeterminate time, while the film is set in medieval Germany. This change of setting gives the film a darker and more disturbing atmosphere.
  • Characters: Fairy tale characters are generally divided into good and bad, while movie characters are more complex and ambiguous. For example, the brothers’ mother is a more complex character in the film, where she is the victim of a demon that drives her to abandon her children.

Overall, the film Gretel and Hansel is a darker and more disturbing interpretation of the classic fairy tale. The director, Oz Perkins, wanted to create a film that explored themes such as survival, family and fear.

Distribution and Reception

The distribution of the film Gretel and Hansel was handled by Universal Pictures. The film was released in US theaters starting January 31, 2020. The film was a commercial success, grossing over $25 million worldwide.

Gretel and Hansel was received positively by critics, who praised the atmosphere, the performances and the ending.

The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes gave the film an approval rating of 65% based on 97 professional reviews with an average rating of 6.46 out of 10. The site’s critical consensus reads: “Gretel and Hansel is an interpretation dark and disturbing of the classic fairy tale, offering an immersive and memorable cinematic experience.”

Critics praised the film’s atmosphere, which was called “oppressive and claustrophobic”. They also praised the performances of the leads, Sophia Lillis and Sam Leakey, which they called “believable and engaging”. The film’s ending was particularly praised, with many critics calling it “a twist that leaves its mark”.

However, some critics criticized the film for being too violent and bloody. Others have criticized the fact that the film is not faithful to the original Brothers Grimm fairy tale.

Review

by Fabio Del Greco

Gretel and Hansel is a horror fairy tale created by the son of the legendary actor of Psycho and The Trial Orson Welles, Anthony Perkins. The director uses photography and visual care at high levels. The conflict between the cold of the intense blue and the heat of the fiery red is the basis of many scenes in the film. Images often highly symbolic and dreamlike.

The story exploits all the clichés of the black fairy tale with an obsessive attention to the atmospheres and the slow pace of the editing, with slow camera movements that reveal the places, exploiting repeated dream sequences up to the point where reality merges with the dream and the ‘nightmare.

The performers do their duty but don’t particularly shine in a film that perhaps gives too much importance to the figurative aspect. It is precisely the lack of depth and lack of originality of the characters that is the weak point of the film.

Except for Gretel, who experiences a moment of profound transformation in the final part of the film, Hansel and the witch almost seem like prototypes of horror fairy tale characters rather than vital and multidimensional characters.

The film is a pleasure for the eyes and I am convinced that figurative strength is always the main component in the most interesting films. But there is something that doesn’t make the story take off, the way the sequences are constructed, the use of music, the repetitiveness of certain dream images.

We identify very little with the characters, and in any case not at the level necessary to truly empathize. The aesthetic and photographic care absorbs all the energies of the vision, taking away space from the depth of the characters.

In the end the film gives us the splatter scenes that we expect from the beginning, but everything seems rather predictable and hasty. There is the evil witch, there is a duel between dark powers, but we are very far from the epic main scene of a film like Luca Guadagnino’s Suspiria, which manages to truly transport us into pure horror. A film that burns so slowly should have given something more at the end.

Gretel and Hansel is still a film worth seeing, the symbolism of ancestral fears works. The dark figures, the bizarre witch’s house in the woods, the Masonic geometries of some shots are interesting elements.

The only thing that really stands out for this horror and that really remains in the memory is the obsessive photographic care of the images, the red and blue lights that invade the screen with a visual and reiterated violence that we rarely see.

Fabio Del Greco

Fabio Del Greco

Director, screenwriter, actor, creator of moving images since 1987. Passionate about cinema and scholar of the seventh art.

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