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Whatever. I saw this film in 1984, 1994 and 2004, and I dislike it even
more each time I see it. Yeah, I get the "symbolism," and I can appreciate
the set design, but it is disjointed. The plot and concept are all over the
map, and the ending defies explanation. I've read the posts of other
viewers, and their responses/reactions to the film are rather vague. The
special effects are weak, regardless of the time period. People actually
find this film "frightening"????? Of course, considering this is a Neil
Jordan flick, I shouldn't be surprised.
Back in 1984, I remember 90% of the audience walking out within thirty minutes, and NOT because they were scared. Perhaps this film appeals only to a select "art house" crowd. Or, maybe one needs to be "enhanced" in order to appreciate the nuances.
There's a family living in an English estate. The younger girl Rosaleen
(Sarah Patterson) is tired and starts to dream of a magical world. In
that world, her older sister is dead. Her granny (Angela Lansbury)
tells her stories of a werewolf (Stephen Rea) and a maiden. Granny
knits her a red cape.
This is a three layered world. The girl dreams of a world where the characters tell fables. It's probably one layer too many.
Director Neil Jordan gives a much more sexualized version of Little Red Riding Hood. Sarah Patterson is able to project an innocent and sexual character. The big scene is when Rosaleen meets the Big Bad Wolf. I do wish that the rest of the movie had more of that energy. The other scene I liked is the Stephen Rea transformation. It's more bloody and grotesque than the regular werewolf transformations. It's very well done.
I remember when I first saw this film (many years ago); I found it
quite slow and plodding. This time I appreciated much more the measured
approach taken by the director. It gives the audience time to take in
the story and become familiar with the strange world he has created.
Yes, there are a few clichés in there, the medieval village with a 17th
century manor house and the fact the snakes (big ones) live in an
English forest did seem kind of wrong to me. Also in the 'dislike'
column came the musical score; sorry but synth's just don't cut it any
more. May have sounded cool at the time but now it's just too damn
cheesy. Okay, so what's to like; well, first there's the performance of
Sarah Patterson, who I though did a truly excellent job given the
talent she was working with. I also liked the special effects; all
mechanical with not a hint of CGI (after all, it didn't really exist
back then). I really liked the way the story was structured but it
could have done without the 'modern day' bits tagged on to either end.
Over all I found it an entertaining watch and something every horror
fan should have seen at least once.
SteelMonster's verdict: RECOMMENDED
My score: 7.3/10.
You can find an expanded version of this review on my blog: Thoughts of a SteelMonster.
The Company of Wolves remains one of the few films where the viewer can
truly say that they have never seen anything quite like it. Even if
they didn't like it or, more commonly, didn't understand it. It takes
place in a variety of locations, but mostly in a girl's head (Sarah
Patterson known only here as "Roselean" although she may have a
different "real world" name) who is - in her dreams - on the verge of
becoming the village talent in a fairytale 1800 England.
From her freshly applied rouge lips and tease (she pours water over the head of a would-be dream suitor) it is fair to say that while puberty seems a time of uncertainty she is not in full and total flight from it. In her dream subconscious at least.
Given that it is co-written by a woman - Angela Carter from her book The Bloody Chamber - I'll take it as read that this time of life is really a time of nightmares and confusion, but why would her imagination linger here? Fairy tales being mostly read to far younger children.
The first thing that grabs you are the sets which, while clearly some kind of sound stage, are still very frightening and puts you on edge straight away. A place where one step outside the door could lead to danger and where things go bump-in-the-night 7 days a week apart from Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Mists roll, the sun is rarely seen and strange animals linger on the edges looking for a meal - or more probably their trainer.
Lots of allegories are spun about men being "hairy on the inside" and how you should never trust "a man whose eyebrows meet in the middle." Not me - thank god! All delivered from the lips of Angela Landsbury in a granny outfit that looks like it came from her local fancy dress shop. Naturally when she says "don't do such and such" you can be sure that is just what is going to happen in the next scene!
Horror has a license to make little or no sense, but this seems to go beyond what is even in the small print. Narrative is jerky and it uses the uneven/contradictory imagination of the girl and the dark side of Little Red Ridding Hood to try and make a stew rather than a proper meal. It is hard to follow and the ending steps outside even the little sense that it made to that point. It then reads us a fairytale verse as some kind of apology stroke "explanation."
Watching this film for a second time I (naturally) knew what was coming - but failed to gainer a stronger grip on the story or more accurately stories. It did allow me to drink it all in and observe how much director Neil Jordan was influenced by the pop videos of the time: Wolves jumping through windows in slow motion, etc. and notice how pyrotechnics have improved since 1984.
With a lead that is more a fey enigma than a character and a repeating theme of men being wolves (of all kinds) I had little hold on to and quickly ended up in an emotional free-fall. Its a noble failure that could have climbed up to another league with a few more drafts of the script and a bit more cement between the bare bricks.
As it turned out this film was used as a tryout for the bigger budgeted and more audience pleasing Interview with a Vampire which Neil Jordan directed in 1994.
Once upon a time, there was a up and coming director by the name of
Neil who, for his sophomore movie, decided to create a dark fairytale
based on a modern reworking of the classic tale of Little Red Riding
He packed his film with Freudian symbolismvisual metaphors relating to it's central character's coming of age and inevitable loss of innocenceand filled it with wondrous, atmospheric imagery, effectively creating a disturbing and ethereal fairytale aesthetic. But as beautiful as his film was to look at, at it's heart it was still a load of pretentious and rather dull Gothic art-house twaddle.
The narrativea confusing dream-within-a-dream with interwoven stories recounted by various charactersquickly devolved into a surreal and plodding mess of trite, allegorical, feminist drivel that depicted men as beasts driven by uncontrollable lust. As for the much-touted transformation effects, they were less than specialmediocre animatronic efforts that paled in comparison to those other great werewolf films of the '80s (you know the ones I mean... they were fun, entertaining and made sense).
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"The sweetest tongue has the sharpest tooth." "If there is a beast in
man, it met-its-match in woman." "Don't go into the woods, Little Red
Riding Hood." Neil Jordan's (The Crying Game, and Interview With a
Vampire)werewolf-fable really excited me upon its release in 1984, and
it is a film that has aged well. A sensual-retelling of "Little Red
Riding Hood", and a really detailed realization of how bloody and gory
so-called "fairy-tales" are in their uncensored-versions. Co-written by
Angela Carter and Jordan, the Red Riding Hood story acts as an arc
which numerous stories are hung-from, and it is even framed as a modern
girl's dream! It has to be said that Terry Gilliam's "The Brothers
Grimm" covers similar-ground in the wolf-areas, but more on that later.
This is a fairy-tale for adults, and a really sexy, satisfying one
This film got a lot of attention at the time, because it deals with that tender period of puberty, and the end of adolescence. It's a painful-period for most people, male or female, and so Company of Wolves is essentially a story of innocence-lost. The irony is, Jordan doesn't paint this loss as being so bad, and that a surrender-to-passion can be a wonderful letting-go. But we lose-something, entering adulthood, a kind of magical sense-of-reality where everything is new, mysterious and alive. We lose Eden. Entering into an almost "UFA-expressionism", this is a story of feminine sexual-exploration and discovery, a real treat. It's definitely a feminist horror-tale, and has some interesting-takes on female-empowerment through sexual-knowledge.
Angela Lansbury plays the archetypal-Grandmother, a symbol of ancient feminine-wisdom. Her character reminded me of the Oracle of Delphi (the Oracle only tells us what we already-know!), and she is also a cautioner against the mistakes-of-youth.Jordan and Carter go-so-far as to have her demise reveal that she's made of porcelain--an open-admission that she's a symbol! Of course, the authors change things in the Red Riding Hood story, and the ending is pretty original and unexpected. Eventually, all lambs must become rams and sheep. Eventually, all lillies must wilt-and-die. We should enjoy the beauty and virility that we all have, while we have it. It's sad, we see the results of young-girls who aren't cautious in "the company of wolves", as the werewolf is really a symbol of bestial-mankind...serial-killers, and sexual-predators, and abusive-mates. These are the stuff of dreams, and nightmares.
This film was made in-the-wake of Ted Bundy and the public's awareness of the "serial-killer" phenomena. Bundy, truly a "wolf-in-sheep's-clothing", lured "young girls who stray from the path". In many-cases, he murdered and disposed-of his female-victims in the forests of the American Northwest. Conversely, whenever a mutilated-body was discovered in a Medieval town, city or village, it was often attributed to werewolves from the forests. Nobody could believe a human-being could do such-things, and fairy-tales were both cautionary-tales and a cathartic way of dealing with these murders. The same is true today with film, and I give enormous credit to Angela Carter and Neil Jordan for finding the connection between the fairy-tale and genuine-horror.
Sometimes, we are surrounded by lesser-wolves, and there is a part of us that is all-wolf. Another cautionary-aspect of the Little Red Riding Hood fable is the wolf's masquerade as "Grandma"--it warns of wolves in our own families, which was also covered well in Gilliam's "Brothers Grimm" with the father-subplot. The beginnings of "film-noir"? Not-exactly, but the cautionary-part of these ancient-stories is why they are still with us. They tell us things about ourselves and others that we ignore at our own peril. Most people--usually young--ignore them. Fairy-tales are part of our pagan-past, and the film is studded with fertility-images in frogs, and a wonderful dream-sequence with lipstick, nests, and baby-statues in eggshells. Dream-imagery.
If you ever wanted to see Stephen Rea rip his face-off, this film has it. A tale of a vanished-husband (who turns-out to be a returned werewolf who feels spurned) features an early-performance by him that is pretty hard to watch, and cautionary of choosing the wrong-lover. Sure, young-adults will make many of the same-mistakes (we all do and will), but these tales are still valuable in making them aware that some people are dangerous, and that they are wolves or bestial. With such an incredible UK-cast featuring the always-great David Warner (Time Bandits, Straw Dogs, The Omen) Stephen Rea (The Crying Game, V for Vendetta), Graham Crowden (If..., The Ruling Class, Britannia Hospital), and Angela Lansbury, it's a very entertaining watch. Such a moody, graphic, sensual film is a great date-film too! Your lady-friends will give-themselves-up to desire, give-themselves to the wolf...
Hen's Tooth has done a great job with this film on DVD. It's widescreen, with an excellent transfer, and very active sound. This is great, because it's a very subtle film, with a fragile cinematography and sound-design and score. Forget extras, get the aforementioned right, then we'll talk "extras".
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I'm not sure where to even start and describe the 'plot' of The Company
of Wolves! But I'll try as best I can, the film begins with Rosaleen
(Sarah Patterson) asleep, tossing and turning in bed. Most of the film
is the telling of her dream. Rosaleen's dream starts with her running
through a dark spooky forest. She meets a giant teddy bear and a few
more of her dolls. Just forget about the story that doesn't make a
blind bit of sense and enjoy the visuals. Rosaleen's dream is mostly
set in a small village in the middle of a large forest. Rosaleen is
attending the funeral of her sister Alice (Georgia Slowe) who was
supposedly killed by Wolves. Rosaleen spends the night at her
Grandmother's (Angela Lansbury) who tells her a story. The story
concerns a young newly married couple (Kathryn Pogson and Stephen Rea)
on their wedding night. He disappears into the forest and doesn't
return, his wife fears him dead and remarries. One night years later he
does come back, but he has changed in a horrifying way. The film then
jumps back to Rosaleen in the village being chased and chatted up by a
boy (Shane Johnstone) until we get another bizarre story about the
Devil (Terence Stamp) turning up in a chauffeur driven car and handing
out a strange potion. There is another story where a woman witch (Dawn
Archibald) turns a load of wealthy wedding guest into Wolves. Then it's
back to the village again as Rosaleen takes an eventful walk with the
boy who fancies her. Towards the end of the film Rosaleen also meets up
with a huntsman (Micha Burgese) who happens to be a Wolf. Eventually
the film switches back to Rosaleen in the 'real' world but ends up
still as bizarre and surreal as what has gone on before.
Co-written and directed Neil Jordan this is one bizarre and surreal film. The script by Jordan and Angela Carter based on her own short story mixes fairy tale folk lore with horror and tries to create a film around the ideas. The biggest problem I had with this film is that it just doesn't have any linear or coherent story, very few developed characters most of whom aren't even given a name and confusing dream within a dream type structure so I was at times not sure 'where' I as a viewer was meant to be. When the film finished I didn't really know what to think except 'what just happened?'. On the positive side the film is absolutely gorgeous to behold. It oozes style and class. This is a real treat to sit down and watch as Jordan directs with flair and purpose. The production design by Anton Furst is sumptuous with beautiful looking sets. I love the forest with it's huge mushrooms, the graveyard and the whole village itself. I really liked the end where it was snowing and icicles were hanging from the branches as flakes of snow fell to the ground while Rosaleen was walking along in her hooded Red Riding Hood cape, a truly wonderful film to look at throughout. There are a few special effect shots, a couple of gory Werewolf transformations plus a severed hand and chopped off head, but this isn't a gore-fest. Sarah Patterson is OK as Rosaleen as is Angela Lansbury as her Grandmother, no-one else is in it for that long as they just come and go depending on where we are at that particular moment. The Comany of Wolves has great visual style but has absolutely no meaningful story to back them up. Worth watching if you want something a little different. Generally speaking I actually quite liked it, but it's definitely not a film to suit all tastes.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Neil Jordan's company of wolves is a strange movie, to say the least.it is esoteric and surreal,and filled with imagery and symbolism.aesthetically speaking it is beautiful to watch.this is not a movie about werewolves per SE, but a commentary on the human condition and the beast that lurks within us all.the movie also contains strong sexual undertones and delves a bit into some disturbing subject matter including a young girl,perhaps fourteen or fifteen and an adult male.there are strong undercurrents of sexual chemistry between the two,and while nothing sexual does occur,the implication is clearly there.the movie is purely fantasy,of course, and at times cartoonish,sometimes to the point of absurdity.at times it is simply a parody of itself.the transformations are nothing spectacular,which may be intentional.the movie doesn't take itself seriously but is certainly not a comedy. it is certainly stylish,and also has substance,which is not readily apparent,at first glance.it is interesting to watch, and i can't say whether i will watch it again or not.i didn't dislike nor did i particularly like it.it is however a unique experience.i should mention that there is one scene which i found quite disgusting which occurs about twenty minutes in,so you might want to prepare yourself.certainly a hard film to rate, but i will give it 5* based on the look of the film and its uniqueness.not for everybody. 5* out of 10
Everyone goes on and on about the sexuality of this film, and when
present it is obvious. But give me a break. Read 'the bloody chamber'
-- a group of short stories which really fueled this screenplay. Yes
there is a story called 'the company of wolves', and much of the movie
is drawn upon little anecdotes recalled in that piece. But the movie is
far more complex: the opening, the very last story, and then the finale
are the movie's most brilliant moments and they have nothing to do with
sex or sexuality ( even Freud himself would have a hard time arguing
with me on this point ) See it. Very good. Didn't do so well because
people ( most anyhow ) were expecting a horror movie, and this is not a
I guess they didn't know Angela Carter or her work.
God rest her soul. This is nothing to sneeze at to have as one's legacy ( or part of it -- as much of her work is very good )
just to add, everyone knows that straying from the road ( or path ) leads to trouble -- is that what sex is?? -- doubt it.
more about the fact is growing up means joining the company of wolves. and it is not all sex.
The tale, the dream, the childhood: This is one of the most important films in my life. ¿How many times the nightmare and the reality are the same thing? In this film, Neil Jordan show me the horror of my childhood memories and the fear to the unknown world of sexuality. This is a recommended movie for all the people who loves the ancient tales. In fact, I believe that "The company of wolves" is a masterpiece.
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