Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters
|Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters is a 2013 American-German action-horror dark fantasy film with black comedy elements, co-written and directed by Norwegian filmmaker Tommy Wirkola and filmed in 3D. It is a continuation to the German folk fairy tale “Hansel and Gretel”, which was recorded by the Brothers Grimm and published in 1812. The film stars Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton in the title roles of a brother-and-sister duo of professional witch hunters. Famke Janssen stars as the deadly leader of a coven of evil witches that they seek out to destroy.
Wirkola got the idea to create a film based on the adult lives of Hansel and Gretel in 2007 while at film school in Australia. After being discovered by Gary Sanchez Productions, Wirkola pitched the idea at a meeting with Paramount Pictures and won a contract. Production began in March 2011 at the Babelsberg Studios in Germany and included extensive use of traditional special effects. In addition, Renner and Arterton had a month of training beforehand to prepare for the physical demands of their roles. In terms of the weapons and wardrobe, Wirkola wanted an old-world look with a modern touch and he was adamant about filming outdoors in European nature rather than in a studio. Due to his tenacity, the project was filmed in Germany and featured an international cast and crew.
Originally scheduled for release in March 2012, Hansel and Gretel was delayed for ten months to accommodate Renner’s appearances in The Avengers and The Bourne Legacy and to give Wirkola time to shoot a post-credits scene. It premiered in North America on January 25, 2013, in 2D, 3D and IMAX 3D, as well in D-Box motion theaters and select international 4DX theaters, and was rated R in the United States. Mainstream critics generally panned the film, particularly for what they saw as its weak script and gratuitous violence. However, horror genre critics were more positive, viewing the film as unpretentiously entertaining. The film topped the domestic box office on its opening weekend and was a major hit in Russia.
Abandoned by their father deep in a forest, young Hansel and Gretel enter a gingerbread house and are nabbed by the old witch who resides in it. The witch forces Hansel to continuously eat candy while making Gretel prepare the oven, but the siblings outsmart her and shove her into the fire. Throughout the fifteen years after the incident, Hansel and Gretel become famed bounty hunters dedicated to mercilessly exterminating witches. Their work is relatively easy because, for an unknown reason, they are immune to spells and curses. Hansel, however, is diabetic as a result of his ordeal and needs to take a regular shot of insulin every few hours. In Tommy Wirkola’s original treatment Gretel developed an eating disorder, but that idea was dropped.
One day, in the town of Augsburg, Hansel and Gretel prevent Sheriff Berringer from executing Mina, a young woman accused of witchcraft. Mayor Englemann has hired the siblings to find and rescue several children abducted by witches. Berringer hires trackers for the same mission, hoping to regain the respect of the Mayor. However, all but one of the party are killed that night by the powerful grand witch Muriel, who sends the surviving member back to the town tavern to explode as a warning to the locals. Hansel and Gretel, with the help of the Mayor’s deputy Jackson, capture Horned witch and interrogate her. They discover that the witches are preparing for the ritual of Blood Moon, which requires sacrificing six boys and six girls, each born on a separate month. Suddenly, Muriel, Redhead witch, and a troll, Edward, attack the town and abduct the targeted girl. Gretel is knocked unconscious but is brought to safety by a teenager named Ben, their local fanboy and an aspiring witch hunter. Hansel grabs a fleeing witch by her broomstick, but becomes lost in the forest.
The next morning, Hansel is found by Mina, who takes him to a spring to heal his wounds. Meanwhile, Gretel enters the forest to search for him, but she is assaulted by Berringer and his men for luring the witches to their town. She is rescued when Edward arrives and mutilates the men and mends her injuries. When Gretel asks why he saved her, Edward answers that trolls serve witches and walk away. Hansel and Gretel reunite at an abandoned cabin, which they discover is not only their childhood home, but also a witch’s lair. Muriel appears in front of them, telling them the truth of their past. She reveals that Hansel and Gretel’s mother was a grand white witch named Adrianna, married to a farmer. On the night of the Blood Moon, the heart of a white witch is needed to create a potion that makes witches impervious to fire. As Adrianna was too powerful, Muriel targeted Gretel, who was revealed to be a white witch herself. Muriel spread a rumor across the village about Adrianna. To keep the siblings away from the mob of villagers, their father left them in the forest before he was hanged, while their mother was burned at the stake. Following this revelation, the siblings battle Muriel before she stabs Hansel and abducts Gretel for the ceremony.
Hansel wakes up to the sight of Mina, who reveals herself to be a white witch. After Mina uses a spell to bless the siblings’ arsenal, Hansel, Mina, and Ben head to disrupt the Blood Moon Sabbath. Whilst Mina mows down dozens of witches with a Gatling gun, Hansel squares off against Muriel’s minions and frees the children, while Edward defies Muriel’s orders and releases Gretel before Muriel throws him off the cliff. Muriel attempts to flee, but Ben shoots her off her broomstick. On her way to meet up with Hansel, Gretel finds Edward and uses her stun gun to defibrillate him back to life. Hansel, Gretel, and Mina follow Muriel’s trail to the old gingerbread house. During their confrontation, Mina and Muriel battle as Ben and Hansel are knocked to the ground. Muriel fatally stabs Mina. The siblings engage in a grueling fight against Muriel inside the gingerbread house, until they behead her with a shovel. In the end, Hansel and Gretel collect the rest of their reward for rescuing the children before embarking on their next hunt, with Ben and Edward joining them.