The Company of Wolves *****
With the disastrous release of ‘Red Riding Hood’ recently I thought it would be a good idea to revisit the best movie adaption of that particular fairy tale. The Company of Wolves was the first Neil Jordan movie I ever saw at the cinema, I’ve seen everything he’s made since.
After the funeral of her older sister who was killed by wolves, Rosaleen (Sarah Paterson) stays at her grandmothers (Angela Lansbury) cottage in the woods. Her grandmother spends the night telling Rosaleen stories about ‘men whose eyebrows meet in the middle’ and ‘babies found in stork eggs’ much to Rosaleens horror and excitement. The stories are cautionary tales as Rosaleen is pre-pubescent and granny is trying to warn her about certain types of men and what they will want from her. The stories are dismissed by Rosaleens mother when Rosaleen asks her if her father ‘hurts’ her after she heard them having sex. The film is all filled throughout with sexual references and imagery.
Of course soon after Rosaleen meets a charming stranger in the woods, the huntsman (Micha Bergese), he begs her for a kiss, when Rosaleen declines he makes abet with her that he can reach her granny’s house before her, and then he will take his kiss. Rosaleen agrees to the bet even though the strangers’ eyebrows meet in the middle…
The Company of Wolves is a strange, original, beautiful and sensual film; preoccupied with Rosaleens burgeoning sexuality and her obvious appeal to the opposite sex. The film is incredibly beautiful to look at, the village, cottage and woods sets are wonderfully realised and provide the perfect fairy tale backdrop for the characters to ham it up. The actors really play up their roles, there’s not much subtlety in delivery but it all works in the films favour.
It really is director Neil Jordan’s film and must have been a difficult sell when he initially pitched it to the studio. Encompassing a strong undercurrent of sexual desire that would become a familiar theme throughout his career, especially in ‘The Crying Game’ and ‘Interview with A Vampire’; using the fairy tale imagery allows Jordan to look at teenage sexuality from a safe distance.
The special effects are always a talking point in werewolf themed movies, specifically the transformation scenes, with ‘An American Werewolf In London’ setting the standard. The werewolf change in Company of Wolves is different and disturbing in a unique way. Wonderfully staged and well performed it relies on the acting, setting and lighting to build the tension before exploding with some terrific make-up effects. Although now obviously slightly dated, I still prefer these types of effects to CGI abominations.
Quality: 5 out of 5 stars
Any good: 5 out of 5 stars