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TWO BROTHERS

About The Production
"This movie is a combination of three of my greatest passions: the animal world; a love of monasteries and temples; and my fascination with the European colonial period.

It was a world that irritated and fascinated, but its buffoonery and quirky characters also amused me,” explains filmmaker Jean-Jacques Annaud.

"I've done a lot of research on early 20th century Southeast Asia.  I found marvellous photographs, watercolors, models and paintings that inspired my story. In particular, there was a very early engraving that I loved. It shows a number of beautiful, romantic temples all tangled in vegetation, and there in the left-hand corner is a baby tiger. This image stayed in my mind and that's possibly what generated the idea for the film.”

He recalls, "Several years ago, I spent the Christmas holidays with my family in Socotra, a very isolated Yemenite island off the horn of Africa. There was absolutely nothing to do, so I started writing down whatever popped into mind. I was in the mood for a tale. I decided to write about two young tigers who would be born in the part of the world which had thrilled me most – the ruins of Angkor.

"Sitting outside my tent with an oil lamp, facing the Indian Ocean, I spent each evening filling two or three pages in a notebook before I went to sleep…

"Three years later, after finishing Enemy at the Gates, I opened that little notebook again. I jumped into researching it and found, to my delight, that Indochina and the temple region were indeed inhabited by tigers at the time, during the pillaging of the ancient archaeological sites, which interested me.”

Tigers have always held a fascination for Annaud. "Even before I made The Bear,” he says, "I had trouble deciding whether to make a film featuring bears or tigers. Although the bears were wonderful, I always regretted that I didn't use the splendid majesty of the tigers.”

In exploring story ideas, the filmmaker was particularly intrigued by the notion of long-term memory in these animals. "I am surprised that most humans feel so superior that they rule out any intelligence, memory and emotions in other species. People who live closely with dogs or cats cannot fail to acknowledge these abilities. I don't believe that it is being anthropomorphic, but in fact, having a greater understanding of the depths of animal intelligence.”

Interestingly enough, just a few months after Two Brothers wrapped, National Geographic Today reported that recent experiments have led scientists—who have long maintained the absence in animals of so-called episodic memory, the kind that allows humans to recall past events—to rethink the nature of memory in animals.

In Bijal B. Trevidi's story (dated August 22, 2003), the author cites several experts on animal behavior who are challenging old-fashioned notions regarding animal memory, including Georgia State University anthropologist Charles Menzel; John Pearce, a professor of psychology at Cardiff University in Wales; and Nichola Clayton, a professor of comparative cognition at University of Cambridge in England. Says Pearce, "We have traditionally regarded animals like machines, or automata, believing that they just have reflexes and habits. Clayton's work is revolutionary because it challenges these ideas and suggests that animals have richer memories than previously thought.” Menzel agrees: "Animal memory systems have always been underestimated—the upper limits are not really known.”

Prior to beginning work on the script with longtime collaborator Alain Godard, the filmmaker spent several months doing research and, in particular, observing tigers in the wild. Jérôme Seydoux, the head of Pathé, France's premier motion picture company, introduced Annaud to a friend of his named Valmik Thapar, one of the world's foremost authorities<

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