Friday, February 22, 2013

The Company of Wolves

The Company of Wolves is a 1984 Gothic horror movie that explores wolf/werewolf myths and their connection to sexuality. It's based on a story by Angela Carter who has written and edited a number of collection with such tales.

The film is many things, but subtle is not one of them. By that I don't mean not subtle as Game of Thrones is not subtle (boobs every five minutes), but the whole movie is one thinly veiled innuendo. It's fascinating, though, and while I'm not a fan of the theory that all fairy tales have a sexual meaning hidden away, the werewolf myth certainly has in my opinion and The Company of Wolves makes an excellent case for it.

There wasn't have a very big budget, but I think it helped the look of the movie. Since the film makers didn't have money for huge, sweeping sets, they created a small, slightly claustrophobic world that fits the stories well. The whole movie has a very dreamlike quality (and it is indeed all taking part in a dream) that is enhanced by the small, layrinthine sets that seem to wind back into themselves. There are many details you will only notice at a second viewing, for example the animals that are hiding all over the village and forest where the story takes place.

The animatronic shapeshifting scenes are the great weakness of this movie. I saw it about 20 years ago and they didn't look all that convincing even then and a lot less now. And worse, they feel unnecessary, the movie doesn't need all that blood and gore. This scene with its transformation of a whole wedding party of noblemen and -women into wolves is much more subtle and much better (also, I love the indifference of the servants to the fate of their masters).

Yes, those are dogs, not wolves, I know. Small budget strikes again. But the scenes with the whole pack of dogs running together are still incredibly effective, especially at the climax of the movie.

Your mileage may vary with this film. I've shown it to quite a number of people and they either found it ridiculous or fascinating. But if you like looking at old stories in a new way, then I suggest you give it a try.

And if you never saw Angela Lansbury in anything else than Murder, She Wrote, you are in for a surprise. She's does look like everyone's idea of a granny, but there is something subtly creepy about her. Also, watch out for Terence Stamp as the devil.

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