The Company of Wolves

A Neil Jordan film, written with Angela Carter and based on her short story collection, The Bloody Chamber. I studied the book for my A-Level English Lit coursework, and am still thankful to my English teachers for setting such a weird and wonderful text as opposed to tried and tested material like The Great Gatsby (YAWN). Carter has been an enduring obsession ever since. The film was mentioned back then, but I never got around to actually seeing it. Probably for the best, as the rework drastically alters the short story it is based on, and its imagery is far harder to interpret. Compared to the source material, it's pretty confusing.

Also, afraid to say, a lot sillier. The drastic switches in tone make the action difficult to take seriously, despite the beautiful sets and brilliant score. The film goes from fairy-tale syrup (and ropey acting) to full on horror movie werewolf transformations (which, on a purely technical level, astound -- CGI was not missed at all). I guess mashing together the two is the point -- the book is all about exposing the nasty roots behind well-loved bedtime stories.

Jordan is content to playlist a compilation of The Bloody Chamber's greatest hits, without much thought to continuity. Story-digressions that have little to do with the scene prompting it are a recurring problem. Characters, of Rosaleen, the huntsman/werewolf, are difficult to read. Metaphors become mixed -- I thought the company of wolves represented the primeval wild, but it turns out they are descended from rapacious aristocrats.

But it's all a dream, isn't it? So that's alright then. Still, the film didn't quite manage to suspend my disbelief the way David Lynch can do (he is a master at this sort of thing). I did like the final scene, however. The beast blowing away the walls of civilization. Desires forming inside young girls for exploring the dangerous world beyond known safe paths. And the dog hurtling through the window breaks the fourth wall with it -- is it Rosaleen's dream, or ours? It's a dramatic and powerful note to close with, a shame the rest was a bit wooly.

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