Two Brothers Parent Guide
Parent Movie Review
In the early 20th century, Britain held a tight grip on much of the world. And the treasures of her colonies were open game to any fortune-seeker willing to trek into the nether parts of the kingdom.
Unfortunately, those most affected by the plundering were often innocent bystanders. Casting tigers as the stars of his movie, Director Jean-Jacques Annaud focuses on how pillaging and land development destroyed these animals’ relatively peaceful lives. While the villagers’ motives for killing tigers may be justified, the senseless slaughter by sportsmen and the harsh abuse of profiteers is not.
Deep in the jungle of Southeast Asia, two newborn cubs blissfully explore the decaying ruins of the ancient temple where they live. They are unaware a group of artifact hunters are moving closer to their home.
Drawn by the lure of wealth, the men want to haul the carved statues that adorn the sacred shrine back to London to sell them in the auction houses. Lead by Aidan McRory (Guy Pearce), an adventure writer who pens accounts of great hunters, the men have little respect for the land or people they are invading.
But to Kumal and Sangha, the treasure seekers seem to be little more than a strange curiosity their parents are willing to tolerate—until the men invade their lair. In the melee that follows, the cubs’ father is killed and Kumal is caught.
Later, British officials prepare a carefully orchestrated hunt, where the mother tigress is trapped and then released just in time for a visiting guest (Oanh Nguyen) to gun her down. As shots ring out, Shangha is discovered cowering under an outcropping by Raoul (Freddie Highmore), the young son of an English administrator (Jean-Claude Dreyfus). Taken home, the growing cub soon wears out his welcome in the officer’s home and is gifted to the palace menagerie.
Cruelly mistreated by their human captors, the two tigers grow to adulthood. Sold to animal trainers, Kumal becomes a famous, trained performer in the Zerbino Circus while Shangha paces his tiny enclosure, goaded to become a fierce fighter. Finally, for the sporting pleasure of their owners, the two brothers are brought face to face in a blood match spectacle.
For young viewers, the fighting scenes, hunting trips and a couple of tiger attacks may be unsettling. Still, by using beautiful cinematography, the director succeeds at masterfully letting the young cubs tell their story through actions rather than imposed voiceovers.
Forced into captivity, their freedom may be lost but the love between these Two Brothers is not. Giving screen time to their tale is one way to remind viewers that all living creatures have stock in this big blue planet.
Theatrical release June 24, 2004. Updated April 16, 2009
Two Brothers Parents' Guide
What incidents changed Aidans attitude toward the animals? Did that also affect the way he felt about hauling off the temple treasures?
As land continues to be developed around the world, how are animal habitats affected? Are there better ways we can manage our resources in order to allow wildlife and human beings to co-exist?
How did the attitudes of the two men at the Zerbino Circus differ towards Kumal? Is it always bad for animals to be in captivity? What advantages and disadvantages do animals face when they are held in zoos, wildlife refuges or used as trained actors in movies?
The most recent home video release of Two Brothers movie is December 20, 2004. Here are some details…
Related home video titles:
For more tales with tails check out the animated 1967 Disney film The Jungle Book or the updated live action version of the same story in The Jungle Book: Mowglis Story. Also, a young boy and his uncles buy an old four-legged circus performer in Secondhand Lions. Actor Guy Pearce is a scientist driven by tragedy to become a time traveler in The Time Machine.