Film: The Company of Wolves
"Don't stray from the path."
A 1984 horror/fantasy film directed by Neil Jordan and written by Angela Carter. Loosely based on a short-story of the same name from the anthology The Bloody Chamber
Rosaleen, a young girl ("I'm twelve and three-quarters old!
"), falls asleep in her parents' mansion and dreams of living in a medieval village. After her sister is killed in the forest by a pack of wolves, her grandmother comforts Rosaleen, telling her several stories of the dangers of deceptive wolves who roam the forest at night, looking for young girls. She is informed to never trust a man whose eyebrows meet in the middle
and that the most dangerous wolves are the ones with fur on the inside.
Think of it as "Little Red Riding Hood
", written by Sigmund Freud and directed by David Lynch.
The Company of Wolves provides examples of the following tropes:
- Lady in Red: Rosaleen herself, which is disturbing considering she's not even thirteen yet. However, once she receives the red cloak from her grandmother, her sexuality begins to bud.
- Little Dead Riding Hood: This is set up all through the movie, particularly towards the last trip to Granny's house when Rosaleen finds blood by the gate.
- Little Red Fighting Hood: Rather than be threatened, Rosaleen grabs the huntsman's gun and shoots him.
- The Lost Woods: The dream is set in medieval times where this trope came from. Wolves live there and they're not mundane ones.
- Magic Pants: Averted. The traveler husband in the first story strips off to transform and the Huntsman's clothes rip off as he transforms.
- A Man Is Always Eager/All Men Are Perverts: Granny's opinion about male sexuality. The mother challenges this. Turns out the mother is right.
- Mood Whiplash: A man goes through the Transformation Trauma mentioned below, the music is suitably grim, the visuals horrifying... then he's a perfectly friendly wolf that's happy to sit next to the girl.
- My Beloved Smother: Granny comes off as this more so than the Mother, who tries to discourage Rosaleen from taking everything Granny says as the Gospel truth.
- Nested Story: Gran, and later Rosaleen, tell stories about wolves, what they do, and what they want. This being a World of Symbolism about working out how adult sexuality actually works.
- Never Work with Children or Animals: Averted. Not just with the dogs, but filming went fairly smoothly with the actual wolves, as well. (Neil Jordan commended Sarah Patterson on her bravery during the scene where she had to sit right next to and pet one of the wolves.)
- No Name Given: Any of the cast other than Rosaleen, in particular The Huntsman, Granny, and her parents. Alice's name is only revealed in the credits.
- No Periods, Period: Averted. Outside the dream, Rosaleen is implied to be suffering from menstrual cramps. Later she finds an object that more than likely indicates her fertility.
- One Dialogue, Two Conversations: Deliberately done between Granny and the Huntsman. On first viewing, and from Granny's point of view it sounds very like the huntsman is just a smooth talker, snidely telling Granny that Rosaleen was asking for it. From the huntman's point of view "Nothing she didn't want" literally means he didn't do anything Rosaleen didn't consent to.
- Only One Name: Rosaleen and Alice.
- Opposed Mentors: Granny and Rosaleen's mother have contrasting beliefs about adult sexuality and what men are thinking of in regards to women.
- Our Werewolves Are Different: They're metaphors for sexuality.
- Overly Long Tongue: Rosaleen's love interest in the end is a werewolf and has a long, canine like creepy tongue.
- Painful Transformation - The infamous werewolf transformation scene where a man peels of his own skin, to reveal a Nightmare Face, only to have a werewolf burst out from his mouth, transforming him entirely into a wild bloodthirsty wolf. Then his head is chopped off by someone!
- Reasonable Authority Figure: The priest, who doesn't take as harsh a view towards wolves or sexuality as Granny.
- Satan: The man in the car is implied to be Satan since Granny prefaces the story with, "One day he'll meet the devil in the wood."
- Savage Wolves: The major theme of the film is that wolves are predators that want to eat up girls (both literally and metaphorically).
- Sex as Rite-of-Passage: Rosaleen didn't turn into a wolf by herself, y'know.
- Shirtless Scene: A very creepy example with The Huntsman. Whether it's Fanservice or Fan Disservice depends on how hairy you like your men.
- Shout-Out: The fairy tale forest was inspired by Gustave Doré 's illustrations for Charles Perrault's Fairy Tales of Mother Goose, especially Little Red Riding Hood.
- Show Within a Show: The bulk of the story is a dream, in which Rosaleen hears stories from the people around her about the wolves. When she wakes up....
- Something about a Rose/The Tragic Rose: The white rose that turns red in the Wolfgirl story could be either, or both, depending on your interpretation.
- Stay on the Path: Played With Granny instructs Rosaleen never to stray from the path when walking through the woods. This is ultimately challenged because whenever Rosaleen strays from the path, she learns important lessons.
- Title Drop: Done by the Huntsman, who "loves the company of wolves."
- Unresolved Sexual Tension: Squickily between Rosaleen and the Huntsman, in particular the scene where he takes off her red cape and throws it in the fire. Rosaleen turning into a wolf implies they ultimately resolved it.
- Voluntary Shapeshifting: Rosaleen becomes a wolf at the end and runs off with the Huntsman.
- Was Once a Man: Rosaleen's father takes a paw from a wolf for a trophy. It turns into a human hand.
- Woman in Black: Granny, who appears to be a widow. She is the matriarch of the family and the strongest voice of warning against Rosaleen straying from the path. As it turns out, her words are more restriction than actual warning.
- Woman in White: Alice at her funeral looks interestingly more like a young bride than someone who was savaged by wolves.
- World of Symbolism: There's very little in this film that isn't either overtly or covertly about puberty, sexuality, or impending adulthood.