Fairy tales are stories that most of us have known ever since we can remember. As we grow older and acquire a greater understanding of the world, so do we for the meanings of those stories. Mature adaptations of fairy tales, when done right, express their different psychological layers and help us to resonate with the very people who created these myths. Bad ones, usually, are so painfully bad because they elaborate the surface layer of the plot without recognizing the soul of the story.
I fear Red Riding Hood may be one of these very adaptations.
For one thing, itâ€™s directed by Catherine Hardwicke who is partially responsible for Twilight. Also, the people responsible for advertising this movie are clearly trying to ride on Twilightâ€™s coattails because the trailer shows Valerie (Amanda Seyfried) torn between two men, Henry (Max Irons) and bad boy Peter (Shiloh Fernandez) who not only resembles Edward Cullen, but even has his haircut! But what do I know? Maybe that haircut was popular with villagers back in medieval times. The villagers are plagued by a werewolf and get famed werewolf hunter Father Soloman (Gary Oldman) to help them. The trailer shows us romance, mystery, and danger. These sound like the ingredients to what might be an entertaining movie, but it ultimately appears shallow. What does it tell us about the red riding hood myth? What allegories does it explore? What are the lessons to be learned?
If you saw the trailer and asked yourself, â€œWhere oh where is there a GOOD red riding hood movie?â€ then have no fear! There is indeed a movie like this with substance and it is called The Company of Wolves. This movie, directed by the marvelous Neil Jordon (The Crying Game, Interview with the Vampire) is based off of the short story by Angela Carter. It is a dark adaptation that uses magical realism to explore the psychology and sexuality behind the old tale. The movie is about a young village girl, Rosaleen, who is learning about the true nature of life, love, and men from her grandmother (the fabulous Angela Lansbury).
Rosaleenâ€™s sister is killed by wolves and her grandmother warns her of wolves that are hairy on the outside and wolves that are hairy on the inside. Ultimately, she is warning her of werewolves. Eventually Rosaleen meets a charismatic stranger, a hunter, who tries to lead her off of the path. The movie is a mature adaptation that explores the different meanings and symbols behind the red riding hood tale and its ultimate lesson of the dark nature of men. Jordan creates a foreboding atmosphere that haunts you after youâ€™ve finished watching, yet makes you want to go back for more. Rosaleenâ€™s journey takes place in a world that is dark, perverse, and magical and it artistically demonstrates the old cautionary tale aimed towards young women hundreds of years ago. It is a lesson, though, that still resonates to this very day. Even after youâ€™ve finished watching The Company of Wolves its story will linger, haunting your dreams for years to come.
Here is the trailer for The Company of Wolves:Â YouTube Trailer
Now even after this mini-rant will I still see Red Riding Hood? Most likely. If it turns out to be a good movie I will happily eat my words. For the time being, though, I recommend everybody to check out The Company of Wolves because it doesnâ€™t just retell the famous story, it explores its soul.