Neil Jordan’s 1984 film the company of wolves was a reinterpretation of the much loved children’s fairy tale Little Red Riding. For a film that was only 95 minutes long there is so much that Neil Jordon has included from the hidden messages to the symbolism within the film. For me this was such a great film to watch because it was so surreal and this was what made this film so much more than your normal horror movie.
Set in modern time the film takes place within the dreams of a young girl named Rosaleen. Rosaleen dreams that she lives in a fairytale forest in the middle ages that is just outside her window with her parents and her sister. But these dreams slow starts to turn into a nightmare about wolves and werewolves. Rosaleen spends a lot of her time with her grandmother tells her many strange and disturbing tales of what is out there in the forest. “Never stray from the path, never eat a windfall apple and never trust a man who eyebrows meet in the middle.”
On the way to her grandmothers she strays from the path and encounters an attractive huntsman whose eyebrows meet. He challenges that he can find his way to her grandmother's house before she can but even after all the warnings her grandmother has told her she does not listen and decides to accept. The hunter arrives at Rosaleen's grandmother's house first, where he reveals his true nature and eats her as what happens in the fairy tale. Rosaleen arrives and discovers that the many she met is actually what her grandmother warned her about. She shoots the huntsman but instead of dying he transforms into his wolf shape. Rosaleen takes pity on the wounded beast by sits down and petting the wolf kindly and tenderly. Rosaleen herself has become a wolf she and the huntsman escape to the forest, joined by a growing pack. It is strongly suggested that the couple have chosen each other as mates.
The best thing about this film is that you actually fell like you are in a dream world because everything that happens within this film wouldn’t make sense in the real world but does in this dream world. This was because Neil Jordan made them so skilfully that they actually pull you into the dreams and you feel like you there. “Unlike other films that employ dreams, the company of wolves actually feels like a dream”. The dreams in this film take up most of it but they are full of symbolism and hiding meanings. The dreams themselves are like she is losing her innocence throughout them and embracing and understanding adulthood.
”The symbolism gets pretty heavy handed in all this, and it’s more deftly handled in Angela Carter’s original prose works, but it’s still pretty compelling stuff.”
The symbolism throughout this film suggest leaving childhood behind and embracing adulthood can be scary it can also be enjoyable. The first thing that we see in Rosaleen dreams is her sister running though the forest which is filled with life like version of her childhood toys I her bedroom. “Childhood playthings are one of the symbols of greatest significance in The Company of Wolves”. The attacking playthings in the woods that were attacking her sister I think represent the suggestion of hanging hold onto her childhood and being forced into adulthood.
Thought out the film Rosaleen is always been warned about never straying from the path and wolves that look like men but are hairy on the inside. Both of these things can be metaphors for several things within adulthood. The path itself can be a symbol of virginity because her mother and grandmother tell her never stay from the path to keep her from being tempted by what’s in the forest. Neil Jordan used wolves in this film to represent just about everything from male lust, lost innocence, pain men can inflict upon a women and the power women have on men. The scene that best shows this is when Rosaleen is sitting there with the wolf and he does nothing but listen to her voice.
For me the best scene was when Rosaleen becomes a wolf herself and escapes into the forest with the huntsman. Because even though she has allowed herself to be turned in a wolf it kind of represents the shedding of her childhood and finally become a woman.
This film was enjoyable to watch because it had everything from bizarre imagery to symbolism, hidden messages and it was based on a classic tale.