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Let's all thank god for Neil Jordan. Not only did he bring Anne Rice's
Interview with the Vampire to the screen in an uncompromising, superb
adaptation, but way back at the start of his career he also brought us
this mini-masterpiece about werewolves.
The setup is simple. A teenage girl in a country manor falls asleep while reading a magazine (with a cover story entitled "the shattered dream" -- a subtle hint to some of the themes of this movie), and she has a disturbing dream involving wolves which appears to take place in the woods visible from her bedroom window. It begins with a girl being chased down by a pack of wolves and killed, then we move to her funeral and discover she had a sister. The sister is your typical inquisitive girl just blossoming into womanhood, and her wise old grandmother tells her stories about men changing into wolves, with the message that all men are beasts. These stories make the girl uncomfortable about the advances of a local boy, and later a charming nobleman, and her perceptions of her parent's love life don't help. As the town becomes more and more terrified by the danger of wolf attacks, they begin to unearth evidence that there are in fact werewolves out in the woods. These findings and her own active imagination lead the girl to come up with her own werewolf stories. And when she is sent out through the woods with a red cloak and basket to visit her grandmother, you just know that there's going to be trouble ...
The Company of Wolves is a well-made, smart and highly original piece of work, and it is this movie that got Irish director Neil Jordan noticed internationally. The surreal, dream-like atmosphere of the movie is both superb and engaging, and the metaphorical nature of the movie is reasonably subtle. It is about a young girl's coming-of-age, trying to decide whether or not all men are in fact beasts when she still isn't quite sure exactly what they want from her.
Generally, werewolf movies made by European film-makers tend to have more substance and more familiarity with actual werewolf folklore -- it is part of our history after all, while Hollywood has had to create it's own werewolf myth over the years. This is probably the best British werewolf movie, followed by Dog Soldiers and Curse of the Werewolf, but even American classics like The Wolf Man and of course An American Werewolf in London, had to be set in Britain.
The lead role is played by Sarah Patterson, a young girl in her debut role at just 12 years old. After this she only appeared in one more movie (Snow White, also in the Canon Movie Tales series) then for some reason gave up on movie acting. She would certainly have had a successful career after this, you would think. The supporting actors also do good jobs, particularly Micha Bergese as the huntsman and Angela Lansbury as the creative grandmother. Other well-known names appear here in smaller roles, including Brian Glover (the yorkshireman from American Werewolf), David Warner, Stephen Rea and Terence Stamp.
It currently ranks as one of my all-time favourite werewolf movies, and I expect it to grow on me even more over time. I can recommend this without any reservation.
The Company of wolves is a very unique film that has to be watched with an open mind. It's a very surreal fantasy-horror story all of which takes place within the mind of a sleeping adolescent girl. Each story is filled with beautifully done metaphors and similes in which the werewolves represent puberty, sexuality, masculinity, and sexual awakening though there is no actual sex in the entire movie. It's very beautifully done. And even if you don't like symbolism and faery-tale style movies the werewolf transformations are quite unnerving and the stories the grandmother tells rosaleen (which are acted out as short stories in the movie) are rather chilling. This is the most original werewolf movie you will ever come across. There has never been or will there ever be again anything quite like it.
What a weird fairy tale: director Neil Jordan (Interview with the
Vampire) seems to have had the intention of taking a Freudian approach
to the story of 'Little Red Riding Hood'. The result is an almost
surreal collection of stories about rather testosterone driven
werewolves, who all have a little more on their minds than 'just' to
kill. If you like old school practical effects and transformations,
this film has 'em by the truck load (although they do seem a little
dated by now). Not everything works in this strange tale; the mix of
sexual symbolism, poetic beauty and gory horror moments seems a bit
forced at times - but when it does work it's utterly fascinating. For
fans of the weird and lovers of the pre-CGI era, this is a rare treat.
7 out of 10.
Favorite films: http://www.IMDb.com/list/mkjOKvqlSBs/
Lesser-known Masterpieces: http://www.imdb.com/list/ls070242495/
Fun B-flicks/low budget films: http://www.imdb.com/list/YV1Lxq7WLkU/
Favorite TV-Shows reviewed: http://www.imdb.com/list/ls075552387/
This movie is a commentary on the passage from innocence to adulthood and the life we throw away as we make that transition. It is series of dream sequences that cover the many ways a man becomes a werewolf while the primary story line is moody reworking of the Little Red Riding Hood tale. The movie itself is very complex and not for those looking for a straight horror movie or a fantasy love story. It puts forth the premise that childhood must end, and we must all in time give in to the animal within. The ending is one that comes as a surprise and a shock to most viewers. The transformation scenes are some of the most incredible in the history of werewolf movies. Those who view this movie will either walk away confused or find themselves changed in some subtle way. It tends to be a bit hard to find in the video stores, but it is more than worth the trouble of searching.
The company of wolves is very far from being the typical movie about werewolves, it's very different from films such as An American Werewolf in London or The Howling. This film is full of symbolism, it's a kind of rewriting of Perrault's Little Red Ridding Hood with Freudian elements. The film was directed by Neil Jordan, but in it we can notice the writing of Angela Carter, an author who is mainly interested in rewriting folklore myths from a feminist point of view. If you see this film you will enter a world of magic, of dreams, not only by means of the script, but also by the settings, which are really wonderful. The film itself deals with the end of childhood and the beginning of adolescence, with all its sexual connotations, and the loss of innocence. When we become adults we realize life is not a magic tale. All this is treated from a feminist point of view, the main character is a girl who dreams about several stories with werewolves. Visually the movie is incredible, and it manages to reflect the symbolism of woods, the mixture of light and darkness, the magic creatures which live there during the night and the dangerous inside them especially for the girls who don't follow the path. From my point of view the film is one of the best dealing with the myth of werewolves, mainly because the film is a metaphor of life, of the human specie, all of us have an animal inside.
Rosaleen (Sarah Patterson) is a teenager, living in a country house in
England with her family in the present days, and having a nightmare with
wolves and werewolves in the Middle Ages. In her dream, her boring sister is
dead, she lives with her father (David Warner) and her mother (Tusse
Silberg), but she spends lots of time with her lovely grandmother (Angela
Lansbury). Granny tells her many stories of werewolf and gives her the
following advice: "- Never stray from the path, never eat a windfall apple,
and never trust a man whose eyebrows meet." One day, Rosaleen, while going
to visit her grandmother, meets a handsome man and bet with him who would
arrive first at her granny's house. The story has an open end. The first
time I watched this movie was in 1984 or 1985 in a imported VHS of a
Brazilian video-club, and I liked it a lot. This video-club closed and
unfortunately, this film has not been available in Brazil since then.
Yesterday it was released on DVD and I immediately bought it. I have just
saw it and I really can say that it is an excellent movie. The story is
based on the fairy tale of the Little Red Riding Hood. Indeed it is an adult
and stylized version of the tale. But further than that, it is also a
spectacular approach of the beginning of the puberty, losing of the
innocence through wild and erotic dreams, when the character of Sarah
Patterson is becoming an young woman. Neil Jordan made an excellent work,
with a wonderful horror movie, which can have the most different
interpretations, depending on the eye and experience of the viewer. He used
many symbols, such as the use of lipstick, or the first date of Rosaleen. I
do not understand what happened to the gorgeous and very promising actress
Sarah Patterson. With her interpretation in this film, I would bet she would
have a great career ahead, what has never come true. This film is really a
cult-movie, and I am one of its greatest fan. I would like to thank the
Brazilian distributor Flashstar, for giving me the chance of see this
wonderful movie again. My vote is nine.
Title (Brazil): `A Companhia dos Lobos' (`The Company of the Wolves')
Along with Dario Argento's "Suspiria"(1977)this is one of the most dream-like horror movies ever made.I love this one,although I still think that "Suspiria" is better.The cast is excellent,especially young Sarah Patterson as a Rosaleen,who simply steals the show.The transformation scenes are pretty gruesome and effective,and the film looks wonderful-great imagery!More fairy tale than horror "The Company of Wolves" is a must-see for all horror fans,who doesn't mind something different.
When I read on the back of the cover, the movie seemed interesting. I
have a thing for very strange movies, and I loved this one. I love how
many of the old folklore-myths about wolves and werewolves have been
written into this movie. I think it was easy to predict the ending, but
that is maybe because I was able to put myself in Rosaleen's place -
and I love wolves and werewolves and folklore-tales, so this movie and
it's plot was perfect for me.
I recommend it to anyone who loves werewolves, who loves movies that don't have action all the time, but leaves a space to think. And it makes you watch it, because what will happen in the end? The only thing I would like to have seen more of, was Rosaleen's real life - we only see her sleep, so we're not really getting to know her very much. The only links we have to about how she is, is how her parents and her sister talks about her in the beginning. But otherwise a very good and interesting movie - I recommend it! :)
I watched "The Company of Wolves" yesterday, only my second viewing in
thirty years, and was delighted at how absorbing it remains. Passing
the test of time, it is as fresh as ever .
The Movie is not quite a Horror film, but inhabits the realm of Fantasy Cinema, a genre which has always shared a porous border with horror.
"Wolves" weaves an intriguing tapestry of folklore and Freudian psychology as it links the dark, but sensual ,Grimm's fairy tales to adolescent fantasies and sexual anxieties, framed in a narrative which is a story, within a story, within a story, wrapped in a dream. In doing so, it takes us deeper into Hammer's dark woods and bucolic Gothic imagery.
Thematically, it strays far from Hammer, but aesthetically, it is firmly rooted in the British Gothic tradition. Not only does it's pastoral setting , secluded village and menacing atmosphere recall the mood of Hammer's best productions, but the cinematography and even the opening titles, are suggestive of Hammer influences.
Admittedly, some of the visual effects leave much to be desired to the modern viewer. I am no great fan of CGI, but perhaps the film would have been enhanced ,under Neil Jordan's restrained eye, by SFX that belonged to the 21st Century rather than the era of "An American Werewolf in London" .
Having said that, "The Company of Wolves" is an intellectual and visual treat, which will reward repeat viewing . It certainly won't be three decades before I venture into it's enchanted forest once again.
All that I can say is that this movie is a masterpiece - for those who
like horror fairy tales. At first I was just expecting a pleasant
b-movie with the right amount of classic horror elements but I ended up
watching an artistic approach to Grimms' tales, hopefully without the
ridiculous 80s'exaggerations. I can't even choose my favorite scene;
Every and each one of them is made with elegance and good taste,
brilliant ideas were coming out every two minutes.
A few films have surprised me on this level (Trick 'r treat, Valerie and her week of wonders). Without question, it's a hidden diamond of the 80s. Highly recommended.
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