DCA Film Club 14: Brothers


3 July 2020

Welcome back to Film Club! We'll be recommending great films to watch at home, before meeting in our Facebook group or your preferred social media to chat about the film using #DCAFilmClub!

DCA Film Club sees our Cinema Team talk about our favourite filmmakers by looking at their short films. We hope they will inspire you to go off and watch something else, be it online or at a cinema near you (when it reopens of course). You can read our Head of Cinema Alice's full introduction to DCA Film Club here.

This week, Cinema Coordinator Michael Coull has chosen 2015 short Brothers by Robert Eggers. Read on for Michael's introduction, then watch the film for free on Vimeo. Enjoy!

Content warning: Brothers contains swearing and gun violence.

Robert Eggers is a director who occupies a very specific place in the modern film-making landscape, whose films, like those of contemporaries Jordan Peele and Ari Aster, are some of the most exciting, distinctive genre films coming out of America at the moment. With only two features to his name, 2015'’s The Witch, and last year’s The Lighthouse, Eggers films are disparate but nonetheless very distinctive. Both are intelligent, atmospheric, deeply dark folk tales, beautifully designed and visualised. 

Growing up in New England, Eggers found himself surrounded by massive pine trees which set his imagination running – he talks of forest graveyards, of the echoes of America’s colonial past and of stories of witches in the woods being important parts of his childhood and it’s not difficult to see the shadows of this preoccupation with such myths and legends in his films. Often favouring extensive research to help bring his glimpses into the past to life (17th century New England in The Witch; 19th century maritime customs and language for The Lighthouse), his films are immersive and experiential; they are often vividly nightmarish and with an eye on the horror genre but with a thoroughly arthouse sensibility. 

Today’s film, Brothers, is Egger’s only short which is currently available to view online, and is much less rooted in the horror genre than his two features, but no less intense or disturbing. Eggers himself wrote a short introduction for the film when it was featured on the website Memory late last year, so I will let his words welcome you into the woods. 

“Back in 2013, after over three years of trying to get The Witch financed, to no avail, Jay Van Hoy and Lars Knudsen, my producers at Parts & Labor, explained that financiers wanted to see some recent work. It had been five years since I had made my last short film, The Tell-Tale Heart, which was quite stylized, and tonally very different from the film we were trying to make. Jay and Lars suggested that I make a proof of concept short film that had scary woods, starred children, and had naturalistic performances. I was up to the challenge. Luckily, I knew of a great location five minutes from where I grew up in rural New Hampshire that I could set an atmospheric story with the necessary ingredients. This Cain and Abel story was based on my own childhood memories of playing in the woods, stories of mid-century New Hampshire farm life, and a tragic hunting accident from the childhood of the poet Gregory Orr. The Witch was ultimately financed without the help of Brothers, but making this film proved to me and my closest collaborators, like cinematographer Jarin Blaschke, that we could indeed pull off The Witch. I’m proud to share Brothers with a wider audience.” 

Further reading and more to watch

Eggers has directed two features, both of which are available to watch or rent on the usual platforms, including Amazon Video and Apple TV:

The Witch (2015)
The Lighthouse (2019)

Here are some great general links if you'd like to learn more about Robert Eggers:

A essay written by Eggers during the current lockdown.

A nice interview with Eggers about Brothers from Le Cinéma Club.

A piece for Rotten Tomatoes where Eggers talks about his five favourite films.

Eggers talks to Indiewire about the films that changed his life.

A Reddit Ask Me Anything Eggers took part in in 2016

More on The Witch:

A nice Sight & Sound piece on The Witch, where Eggers talks about some of the research which went into it.

Interview for The Verge from 2016

An interview which goes into some detail about the design of The Witch.

Another interview which includes Eggers’ thoughts on the political and historical aspects of the film.

An in-depth look (with spoilers) at a particularly pivotal scene in The Witch.

More on The Lighthouse

A piece on the literary and visual influences in The Lighthouse, which gives a good idea of how Eggers works with research.

Anatomy of a Scene video for The New York Times.

A half-hour behind the scenes video on the making of The Lighthouse.

A Guardian piece about the harsh on-set conditions.

A 50 minute Q&A session with Eggers from October 2019

And finally, a real-life lighthouse keeper reviews The Lighthouse for Little White Lies.

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