Sunday, 10 October 2010

The Company of Wolves (1984) review

The Company of Wolves (1984)



The Company of Wolves is a story about a young girl called Rosaleen whose grandmother tells her multiples tales about innocent maidens falling in love with handsome, heavily eye browed strangers with a smouldering look in their eyes; about sudden disappearances of spouses when the moon is round & the wolves are howling in the woods; about babies found inside stork eggs, in a stork nest high up a tree. You can see the immediate resemblance that some of the film has to do with red riding hood but seems to go off on the tangent of being about growing up through adolescence and sexuality.


With Rosaleen the shawl that her Granny gives her is a way of covering up her sexuality within the film but also revealing her change through adolescence by it being red symbolising menstruation. This is apparent in the scene when her Granny gives it to her and says "soft as snow - red as blood" which can also be read as being to symbolise passion and lust. However at the end of the film with encouragement from the huntsman Rosaleen sheds her shawl to embrace her sexuality or change from a girl to a woman, ultimately showing the shawl being a symbol for innocence. When Rosaleen receives the shawl she is always reluctant to clutch it tight to hide her figure but at the end throws it in the fire to reveal her figure more. James rose believes it to be a little more and connects the shawl to the wolves: ‘By the narrative’s conclusion, the symbolic value of the red shawl makes explicit Rosaleen’s final transformation. Just as the wolves have shed their human skin to reveal their true selves, Rosaleen is encouraged to reveal herself by shedding her shawl. Trapped inside Granny’s cottage with The Huntsman, he tells her to take off her shawl and throw it into the fire. By doing so Rosaleen destroys the physical protection the shawl offered and as a result reveals her physical self - her clothed pubescent body - to the gaze of the Hunts’



There is also symbolic significance in the use of the path through the woods. At the part where the young boy asks Rosaleen to walk with him through the woods she strays from the path which ends up her finding the babies in the stork eggs. This path becomes a metaphor for being the path of innocence which her Granny keeps reminding her she cannot stray. So when Rosaleen kisses the young boy she runs off in a taunt for him to chase her which ends up her straying the path of ‘innocence’. Eric Miller from classic-horror.com agrees and states: ‘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. ‘



The film is based around dreams and the settings and characters within them show this off. Even the structure of the film shows this to, it isn’t linear but mixed with dreams within dreams (just made me think of inception!!) bringing the fairytale dream into a reality as such where at the end of the film both dream world and reality merge as the wolf jumps through Rosaleen’s window. Rosaleen’s room inhabitants such as the toys at the beginning come into play of the story where they are seen as terrorising her sister leading up to her death. It is very clever how the use of fade in and out reality work and ultimately intertwine. The imagery is very dreamlike as well much like the scene where Rosaleen climbs to the top of the tree to find babies hatching from eggs which also connects the dreams to a sexual level as well. 
There is no linear story to The Company of Wolves; rather the film is a series of vignettes and dreams within dreams, all of which parse the fairytale away to a probable origin point amid old wives tales and folk superstition.’


After watching The Company of Wolves I wasn’t too impressed but after deconstructing the film and realising the sexual imagery and undertones of the story a bit more I now think it is better. I felt that the film was rather confusing at times probably because of the non linear storyline which from coming to look into it more is justified due to being dreams within dreams and the merge of both fairytale and reality.

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