The Top 20 Movies About Brothers
Siblings cast shadows. They provide comparison. It’s an old story. In fact it’s as old as time.
Every artform has used brotherly bloodlines to explore expectations, jealousy of stature or favor ever since the biblical tale of the first murder: Cain killing his brother Abel.
That story was refashioned in John Steinbeck’s East of Eden. The film adaptation gave us James Dean. His novel was the first non-contemporary selection to Oprah’s Book Club.
I worked at a bookstore in Maryville, Tennessee when Oprah put her discussion ready label back on onto book jackets. It had been more than a year since she’d brandished her “big O.”
"When the book club ended a year ago, I said I would bring it back when I found the book that was moving,” Oprah said in 2002. “And [East of Eden] is a great one… We think it might be the best novel we've ever read!”
The day that East of Eden was reissued for Oprah’s Club a number of people stood outside the store waiting. They filed in and got lost. A woman came up to me and said, “I looked all over the new release section and couldn’t find East of Eden.”
Honey, that story is as old as time itself.
Since the heavens boomed with the promise of a life of public shame for Cain via a mark on his face, filmmakers have – like novelists, operatists, cartoonists, and The Boss – revisited the tale of sibling rivals. (Confession: I re-familiarized myself by watching an animated bible video. Abel was blonde and tended to the sheep, so soft was his demeanor. Cain had a drunkard’s drawl and unkempt demeanor. Ripped like Conan the Barbarian).
In honor of Thor: The Dark World, which is released this week, here is a selection of films concerning brothers jealous of brothers, brothers taking the fall for their brothers, and like Thor himself, brothers needing the help of their brother, who for all that is entwined in the Norse God himself, is the last person he’d like to ask the help of.
And after the first film and The Avengers we can understand Chris Hemsworth’s (Thor’s) jealousy. That Tom Hiddleston is damn charismatic.
If something here is over heralded or casts too long of a shadow over an overlooked film, by all means, be a brother about it. Tell me how I’m wrong.