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What are the Grimm Brothers doing In Hanna?

Updated March 10, 2011

A short history of the two brothers who made fairy tales famous with a few of their stories.

Once Upon A Time…
…Lived Two Academics…
…Who Collected Fairy Tales…
…and became famous for such tales as…
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…and
Once Upon A Time…

Once Upon A Time…

In Hanna, our heroine (Saoirse Ronan) and her father Erik (Eric Bana) live in a cabin in the woods. Her education is confined to what her father teaches her from an encyclopedia and what she furtively reads in a book of fairy tales. Then one day, she leaves the safety of the woods to deal with the outside world. In most fairy tales, of course, one must enter, not leave, the woods for the story to get started. Nevertheless in Hanna, fairy tales, from the film’s structure to the many allusions to the Grimm Brothers, permeate the thriller. For Hanna, Grimm’s fairy tales provide a means to negotiate the outside world as crucial as her encyclopedia or father’s training. Hanna is not unlike the German poet Schiller, whom Bruno Bettelheim quotes in the introduction to his The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales: “Deeper meaning resides in the fairy tales told to me in my childhood than in the truth that is taught by life.”  And the two people most responsible for publishing that meaning for the masses were the Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm.