- Alternate Character Interpretation:
- Granny's presence is a big one. She presents herself as a mentor to Rosaleen, and a protective figure. But mother tells her daughter that Granny shouldn't be listened to - suggesting she's really a Know-Nothing Know-It-All. It's possible that Granny represents childish or outdated views on sexuality (all men are beasts and not to be trusted) and as the film goes on, Rosaleen discards her advice to form her own opinions. Granny's head smashing when the Huntsman decapitates her either represents the loss of Rosaleen's childhood or Granny's stories being nothing but nonsense.
- Rosaleen herself could either be a child terrified of growing up, or else having a sexual awakening against her will. After hearing two of Granny's stories about how men are beasts or animals, Rosaleen tells a story about how a woman gets revenge on the man who wronged her. She also has no problem subduing the Huntsman when he transforms. It's possible she's the former, imagining herself as the latter to cope with the fear of her own sexuality.
- The eggs Rosaleen finds in the bird's nest, along with the mirror and lipstick. Neil Jordan just put them in to be random, but that hasn't stopped fans from interpreting them. The most common one is that they're a metaphor for her awakening sexuality - the eggs hatch to reveal little statues, paralleling Rosaleen becoming able to get pregnant. She shows the egg to her mother and they share a knowing smile - like acknowledging her daughter's first period. The statue crying could be the sadness that comes with sexual maturation.
- Awesome Moments:
"So I wasn't good enough for you. I was once."
- The witch in the third story was seduced by an evil baron who left her pregnant. She gets her revenge by turning his wedding guests into wolves, but she also takes the time to lay the verbal smackdown on him. The witch leaves the servants alone, giving the impression she's setting them free from their masters.
"It wouldn't do much good for me to be afraid."
- When Rosaleen finally comes face to face with the wolf, it asks her if she's afraid. Her response?
- Sarah Patterson's extraordinary performance in general. She didn't intend to audition and only went with a friend to support her. But Neil Jordan asked her to screen test and she won the part. She displays a maturity and awareness throughout the whole film, and delivers a layered performance that surprises viewers to learn that a) she was just twelve at the time, and b) never really acted again after.
- Cult Classic: While Neil Jordan has moved onto bigger and better things, this film enjoyed a resurgence in popularity in The New '10s - especially when Darker and Edgier fairy tales came back into fashion.
- Funny Moments:
"I heard every word, you irreverent old woman."
- Granny is shown to be a Know-Nothing Know-It-All when the priest she claims is deaf reveals he isn't - by dropping a severed tree branch on her.
- Rosaleen's friend tries to play tag with her, tags Rosaleen and gets a wallop from Granny - who says "no one tags my little princess!" - which suggests she's Not So Above It All.
- Genius Bonus:
- Anyone who knows anything about history will get a lot more out of the third story. In the 18th century, there were lots of class struggles between landed gentry and their servants. They were free to abuse their power in anyway and mistreat their lowers. Ireland in particular suffered for this under British rule - with one landlord Richard Lovell Edgeworth becoming notorious for simply treating his workers decently. So in this scene, the witch is not just getting back at a man who wronged her; she's punishing an entire class of abusers by making them appear on the outside as they are on the inside. She notably leaves the servants and musicians alone, and they seem to approve of what she's done.
- The film's metaphors about sexual maturation and Rosaleen becoming a wolf at the end take on a lot more meaning if you know that wolves traditionally mate for life.
- A mild example, but the Belgian sheepdogs used in most of the "wolf" scenes are still so obviously dogs that it can be a little tough to take them seriously. A few scenes, however, do use real wolves, and so they look much better in contrast. Should the movie ever be remade, they should use Tamaskan dogs in order to avoid this trope.
- The special effects are extremely narmy. Kind of a case of Technology Marches On, as the effects would have been a lot more impressive at the time the film came out instead of the present day.
- It's unintentionally hilarious that Alice is apparently killed by wolves, yet leaves a perfectly intact corpse. It makes you wonder if she just died of fright and the wolves didn't have to do anything.
- Nightmare Fuel:
- Granny's first story has a husband vanishing during the wedding night, leading his wife to think he's been eaten by wolves. He returns years later after she's remarried and, furious that she's had children with another man, transforms into a wolf and would most certainly have eaten the woman and her children.
- The second story has the devil giving a potion to a young boy. After he takes it, hairs start growing on him (implying he's transforming into a wolf himself) and vines spring up to trap him in the earth.
- While undoubtedly awesome as well, Rosaleen's first story involves a witch getting revenge on the Evil Aristocrat who wronged her by getting her pregnant. She goes to his wedding feast and turns the whole congregation into wolves, and then makes their howling sound the newborn baby to sleep.
- The very end of the film has wolves breaking out of Rosaleen's dream and into her room. She wakes up and is terrified, screaming her head off.
- Older Than They Think: Before Once Upon a Time used their famous twist with Red Riding Hood, this film got there first by having Red turn into a wolf. Red's costume is also quite similar to Rosaleen's in this.
- One-Scene Wonder:
- Stephen Rea as the traveler husband in the first story. He gets especially terrifying when he starts to transform.
- Terrence Stamp shows up in exactly one scene and has literally one line, but he is playing Satan in a very memorable appearance.
- Dawn Archibald as the witch in the third story, arguably the most memorable of the four.
- Special Effects Failure: The travelling man turning into a wolf looks very hokey once he's torn his face off. The remainder of the wolf effects are quite decent for their time however.
- Squick: The huntsman demands a kiss from the 12 year-old Rosaleen if she does not make it the cottage before he does. She doesn't.
- Tear Jerker:
- You can't help but feel sorry for the she-wolf in Rosaleen's second story. She comes from "the world below" and does no harm to anyone, but she gets shot and has to return to where she came from once she's healed. It's hinted to be a sad metaphor for how adults can't return to their childhood - no matter how much they wish they could.
- When the Huntsman shows up at Granny's cottage, she assumes the worst and fears he's killed Rosaleen. In contrast to her pompous blustering, the way she says "What have you done to my granddaughter?" is full of terror.
- Values Resonance: The film's statements about young girls' sexual awakenings and having women be empowered by their own sexuality just make it even more modern and relevant than it was in the 80s."In the case of fairy tales, the main use is to teach young girls not to have sex with men, isn't it? The Company of Wolves is about how society teaches young women to look at themselves, and what to be afraid of. It's about a girl learning that the world of sensuality and the unknown is not to be feared, that it's worth getting your teeth into.
- What Do You Mean, It's Not Symbolic?:
- The red shawl that Granny makes for Rosaleen corresponds to her growing sexuality. The shawl hides her developing figure from boys who would stare, and also represents the comfort of childhood innocence. Rosaleen doesn't have her first kiss until she's wearing the shawl. And once she seems ready to embrace her sexuality, she throws the shawl on the fire.
- There are four scenes in the film where frogs feature prominently. This could be a reference to The Frog Prince - where the animal turns out to be a human, Foreshadowing the dual nature of the wolves and that they're not to be feared.
YMMV / The Company of Wolves