Thursday, 20 October 2011

The Company Of Wolves Review

Fig 1.

The company of wolves, directed by Neil Jordan is a usual take on the classic story of Little Red Riding Hood walking through the forest to grandma’s house. The film is set as a gothic horror with spiked architecture and dark, dangerous woods filled with all kinds of creatures. The film begins in modern day but the setting soon changes to a dream world which is set in what seems the 1800’s, with pagan religion and folk tales a dime a dozen.

In the film we meet Rosaleen (Sarah Patterson), a young girl who is lying in bed and we soon join her in her dream world as she goes on a journey which is full of bizarre symbolism and big bad wolves. ‘As the young Rosaleen slumbers, the borders of reality blur and her family is transported to the realm of the brothers Grimm, where village mobs hunt wolves with pitchforks and forests look as if a real gingerbread house could be lurking just around the corner.’(Sills 2006) The trees in the forest are tall and overgrown, surrounded by mushrooms which look slightly phallic, which become a recurring theme throughout the film. The atmosphere is dark and mysterious with overgrown plants and a single path which leads through the forest.

This film has one very distinctive theme running throughout which is sexuality. Rosaleen is a young adolescent girl who is just becoming a woman and her dreams reflect this, which is expected from any girls going through puberty. In her dreams her thoughts influence her dreams hugely as they are filled with all kinds of symbolic items and structures. ‘Rather than merely use dreams as a surrealistic alternate dimensions as many other fantastic films do, the dreams here are carefully thought out sequences that are full of symbolism and meaning. This is a film where a 20thCentury Rolls Royce easily drives through a medieval forest, and seems to make perfect sense in doing it.’ (Miller 2009) The dream sequences seem to have some kind of nostalgic feel to them as even though strange things happen such as crying baby statues being found by Rosaleen in eggs in a birds nest, it somehow feels as if it makes perfect sense for that to happen. This could be because the entire film is very serial, even at the very beginning where we see a car pull up to a large house and Rosaleen’s parents bring bags to the house, so her sister decides to go wake Rosaleen up and stands by the door repeating ‘pest,  pest ,pest’. It doesn’t have any reason behind it, why the shopping bags? And why is their house out in the middle of nowhere? It is all very strange.

One we are in the dream world, things becoe even stranger, with the savage death of Rosaleen’s sister being attacked by wolves, we see Rosaleen give off a little smile in the real world. After the funeral she is told to stay the night at granny’s house, and wise old granny has many stories to tell. The most perdominant thing in the film is the presence of strange creatures and figures that live among the forest. ‘She sees wolves that usually (but not always) are symbols of lost innocence and male desire, whereas the "path" that Granny frequently mentions is a symbol for virginity. Granny, and to a lesser extent Rosaleen's parents, are constantly trying to keep her on the path, to keep her from becoming tempted by the fearful yet attractive things in the forest.’ (Miller 2009) The idea of straying from the path soon becomes an interesting one for Rosaleene as by doing so she begins to explore what it is to become a woman and discovers strange new sensations which cause her to do, what it considered today, foolish things. ‘In the original story of Red Riding-Hood, the male psyche is divided into two sharply opposed aspects, in the forms of the saintly huntsman and the savage wolf. Here, the two personas are merged into one, presenting Rosaleen with the living embodiment of her Granny’s warnings, the mysterious stranger full of attractive possibilities, who yet is “hairy on the inside”. She is enthralled and frightened all at once. She knows that he is a liar; she knows that he is not what he seems; yet she makes little protest as the Huntsman relieves her of the knife that she carries to protect herself, or when he offers her his arm to lead her – just a little way....’ (Na 2003) The Huntsman seduces the young Rosaleen and we can see that her defenses fall and she finds him attractive and to leave the path now is more tempting than ever. He proposes a challenge, whoever can get to granny’s house first wins and if he wins, he should get a ‘Kiss’ in return. When he gets to granny’s he manages to slap her with such force that her head fly’s off in true dream-like form, and waits for young Rosaleen. After a confrontation she shoots the huntsman and he transforms into a wolf and wimpers, as Rosaleen empathizes for him, saying ‘…I didn’t know wolves could cry…’ her village folk turn up to rescue her from the big bad wolf, however once they get inside, Rosaleen and the Huntsman are now both wolves and leap out of the window and run into the forest. This shows that after all he determination to stay on the path, she has given in to the charm of the huntsman and given in to her sexual desires. She is no longer a young girl, she has grown into a woman and discovered the world of lust and desire.


Miller, E. (2009)  (accessed on 10/10/2011)

Sills, B. (2006) (accessed on 10/10/2011)

Name Unknown, (2003) (accessed on 10/10/2011)


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