Long before the release of 2015's The Witch put Robert Eggers on the map, the writer/director/production designer was making a different kind of witchy debut with his first short film, an adaptation of the Brother Grimm’s telling of Hansel and Gretel.
Released in 2007 (or 2006, if you trust a YouTube upload more than Wikipedia and IMDb), Eggers’ Hansel & Gretel seemed to have disappeared, like an errant breadcrumb trail, until it was posted on the internet yesterday by Famous First Films.
Eggers’ version of the fairytale is presented in black and white, with silent film title cards and plenty of skittering violins soundtracking the story. Early traces of the work he’d go on to make in the next decade show up, from the obvious, overt rural menace to the wordless dread that accompanies characters sinking deeper and deeper into terrible danger.
The introduction of the story’s witch is notably reminiscent of a nightmarish scene from The Witch, with Hansel & Gretel’s demonic figure also presented first through shadowy glimpses as she waits for victims in the muck of her forest home. Even without comparison to his full length movies, though, the short functions well as an unnerving retelling of the familiar fairytale, focusing agonizingly on the siblings’ terror, the eeriness of the witch’s isolated home and sudden transformation, and, of course, all that attempted child cannibalism.
As Bloody Disgusting notes, Eggers’ only other still-unreleased short film, an adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart, has yet to surface online, though its creator said years ago that he plans to release it at some point.
In the meantime, viewers looking for more of Eggers’ shorts can check out 2013/2015’s Brothers and those seeking other, non-Poe tales of 19th century madness might want to give The Lighthouse a shot. Aside from that, Eggers’ The Northman is out in a few weeks and he’s apparently returning to that long-gestating Nosferatu adaptation, too.
[via Bloody Disgusting]
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