Sunday, 17 October 2010

The Company of Wolves

The Company of Wolves

The Company of Wolves is a horror fantasy film released in 1984, directed by Neil Jordan. The film is about the symbolic folklore of Werewolves, but also includes a number of fairytales, the most evident being “Little Red Riding Hood”.

I found this film quite confusing from the start as the story was very jumpy. The film starts with a girl asleep in her room amongst a bunch of freaky looking dolls. We are then taken into a bad dream she’s having (although it’s not clear that we are now in her dream) where the story starts to unfold. She has a disturbing dream involving wolves which appears to take place in the woods visible from her bedroom window. It begins with a girl being chased down by a pack of wolves and killed, then we move to her funeral and discover she had a sister. The sister was killed by wolves, the wolves their grandma had been telling stories about. We are introduced to her mum, dad, grandma and the setting where she lives in the next scene. This is an example of why I was confused and I only gathered she was in a dream ¾ way into the film. I don’t know if that’s just me being slow but that’s how I saw it. I liked the second half of the film more because I knew what was going on. The ending however was very odd and not what I expected.

What stood out to me in this film were the settings. The sets in this film are awesome and they effectively create a fairytale-like atmosphere. The forest was dark and gloomy with pairs of yellow eyes lurking in the shadows, the village was bright and populated with people, its all how we would imagine it to be but this film brought it all to life. The odd concepts like the eggs with no chicks inside etc also add to the weird and wonderfulness of this film.

From early on it felt to me like Sarah Patterson, who plays the main character Rosaleen, is playing a role a bit younger then what she would fit better with. For example she played Snow White (1988) at the age of 15 but she looked about 18-20 years old and played the part very well. She was twelve when she starred in The Company of Wolves and I think her character Rosaleen was around that age, but I couldn’t help wonder why they made Rosaleen seem so innocent to the point you would think she was younger? It first became evident to me when the young boy starts to make movements towards her on their journeys to fetch water. She doesn’t ignore his advances because she doesn’t fancy him, I feel it’s because she doesn’t know what to do in the situation. Another thing is when he finally asks if he can kiss her she takes the offer straight away, this shows that she is young, curious and wants to experiment.

After thinking about it and reading some reviews if came to me that she was actually maturing throughout the film, which explains a lot. The film wasn’t just about Werewolves; they were like the sub focus of the film. The main focus was about a young girl's coming-of-age, trying to decide whether or not all men are in fact beasts the way her grandma describes. Her grandma was forever telling stories about the men who became werewolves and to never trust a man whose eyebrows meet in the middle, this was because she didn’t want her granddaughter falling prey to a man because she believed they were all beasts. The way in which the film communicates this suggests that Rosaleen shouldn’t go out at night in fear of being eaten (or something along those lines). What it really means in a very subtle way is to not trust men at her age because they will be attracted by her youthful innocence and she will become their “prey” in a sexually suggestive way. The Company of Wolves is like the adult version of Little Red Riding Hood in this way.

I personally think the film turned a bit paedophiliac in the way they were trying to portray this message of not trusting men. Just past the middle of the film Rosaleen meets up with this strange man in the snowy forest on her way to her grandma’s house. The man notices that she is lost and offers to help her find her way in exchange for a kiss. The man is obviously a lot older then Rosaleen and the way he is acting towards her shows that he knows she’s much younger, but yet he still advances? I know he is a werewolf but still I don’t think it was right. It got especially weird near the end when the wolf-man was waiting for Rosaleen at her grandma’s house after killing her. He advances to Rosaleen demanding his reward for getting to the house first, which was a kiss, but then first starts to take off her shawl in a very seductive way, keeping his body tight to hers as he does so. After nearly shooting him Rosaleen questions him about his werewolf side. She asks “are you only a man when you dress like one” which leads him to taking off his shirt and coming towards her with open arms. She immediately follows this up by saying “my what big arms you have”, in which he replies “all the better to hug you with”. He finally gets his kiss, which is only interrupted by his big teeth. This to me was only a few steps away from a sex scene which is very disturbing considering her age.

Overall the film wasn’t bad but it generally wasn’t for me simply because I found it quite confusing to follow. I loved the sets and lighting though, they worked brilliantly.

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