Via Netflix my sweetie-wife and I watched the French film from 2001. Because I am currently struggling with a werewolf short story of my own, I have been renting and watching werewolf movies. Or at least movies I thought to be werewolf movies. The Brotherhood Of The Wolf is not a werewolf film.
The film is set in 18th century France, in the province of Gevaudan, where a strange and terrible beast is killing people. Despite the best efforts of the local people and authorities the beast eludes all attempts to kill or capture it. The king sends one man, Gregoire de Fronsac (Samuel Le Bihan) the royal naturalist and taxidermist to deal with the trouble. Fronsac brings along with him his friend and guide an American Indian, Mani (Mark Dacascos.) the pair find that things are not so straight-forward in the province. Roving gangs attack people at will and secrets seem to abound. They quickly make allies and enemies as they seek to uncover the nature of the beast that stalks the countryside.
This really is a very unusual film. It is a period film photographed in a rich and style that really capture the elegance and decadence of France shortly before the revolution. It is also a martial arts film (Though in the subtitles during the bonus features it was once referred to as a marital arts films. I’m not the only one who has to watch his typing.) Mark Dacascos is a Hawaiian martial arts expert and this is not wasted in the film. So this is a film with anachronisms, Mohawk Indians fighting like oriental monks, a large digital beast killing and maiming, and weapons (in the climax) that have to be rendered digitally because they could not be made and function as the director envisioned them.
Despite the flaws, primarily that the ending goes too far over the top, this is a film worth seeing. The biggest surprise to me came in the bonus material.
The Beast of Gevaudan is apparently a historical incident. There was some beast loose in that province at that time. It killed at least 122 people and evaded hunts that numbered more than 20,000 hunters. The King was forced to send troops to deal with the situation and they failed. According to the author of a book on the subject the beast was never properly identified. Some historians think it was wolves, but wolves do not attack people except in very rare situations. The film proposes one answer to the riddle of the Beast of Gevaudan — apparently a well known story in France — and the author has another.
This film is worth a look see.