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4.2 out of 5 stars
The Company of Wolves Steelbook (Blu-ray + DVD) [1984]
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41 of 43 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 11 February 2004
The screenplay of this film was a colloboration between director Neil Jordan (Interview With A Vampire, The Crying Game) and feminist author Angela Carter, and is based upon a short story by Carter from her collection of short stories 'The Bloody Chamber'. This story, in turn, is based upon the classic children's story 'Little Red Riding Hood', but is filled with dark, menacing, and sexual imagery, all of which are used in the screenplay to create this stunning piece of gothic 'horror'.
That said, I always balk when I see this film placed in the 'Horror' section of any store, and cringe whenever I read a synopsis describing this film as a story about werewolves. Both descriptions are very wide of the mark. This is a story about the transition from childhood to adulthood of a teenage girl, and the symbolism throughout the film is subtle and powerful simultaneously. As such, it pretty much goes without saying that if you are looking for a scary movie, you're probably in the wrong place.
The highlights of this movie are:- Angela Lansbury as 'Granny', who turns in a wonderful performance and really adds a touch of class to the film. Also, the set design and lighting is brilliant, evoking a truly gothic feel to the scenes. For example, most of the movie is based 'outdoors' (like in the woods or in the village), and yet you always get the feeling of an enclosed and somewhat foreboding environment. This feels exactly right given that the story is centred around the character of a young girl, whose world consists solely of the small and familiar surroundings of home, where the outside world is only known to her through the fantastic stories of her Grandmother, where men, wolves and 'straying from the path' are to be feared.
Another, and major, highlight of this movie is the wonderful soundtrack by George Fenton, which is worth having on CD itself. Combining adaptations of traditional folk music with eerie, ominous synth sounds does as much to enhance the gothic atmosphere as the visual effects and set design.
Other than that, the rest of the performances are generally pretty good, especially Neil Jordan's staple actor, Stephen Rea, as well as a fine cameo from Brian Glover and debut from the beautiful and talented Sarah Patterson as the lead charcter 'Rosaleen', who sadly hasn't done much else since as far as I know. The film is also quite famous for it's man-to-wolf scenes and an early use of animatronics. The effects, sadly, do look pretty dated now, but the context of the scenes in which they are used is untainted, and remain powerful scenes both visually and emotionally. The fact that Rosaleen, after witnessing the pain and anquish that such a transition entails, openly weeps and says 'I'm sorry, I didn't know a wolf could cry', is brilliantly emotional and indicative of her almost complete transition from unknowing child, to compassionate and knowing young adult.
All in all, this is a great movie that is so full of rich imagery and subtlety, that it promises to provide great re-watch value, and should not be considered as a 'horror-flick'... unfortunately, most stores don't have a section entitled 'Enchanting fantasy gothic adult fairytale stories'...
Sadly, the DVD isn't great. The packaging is pretty dreadful, with a lame colour drawing adorning the cover. The menu is something straight out of Hammer House Of Horror, and is daft. Annoyingly, the film is in 4:3 aspect ratio, despite a tantalising opening sequence which is in 16:9 widescreen, but sadly, as soon as the film begins proper, we are snapped back into pan and scan...The extras are not wonderful, but there is an extended trailer, which actually contains some different versions of scenes that made it into the final cut. These include a scene where Rosaleen reveals her age (13 and a half), which doesn't appear anywhere in the actual film!
By the way, this great film IS AVAILABLE ON REGION 2, and you can usually pick it up on Amazon Marketplace or ZShops, albeit at a slightly inflated price.
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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
I'm a fan of this film (wonderful atmosphere, riveting special effects, lots of dry humour) but I was disappointed with the Blu-ray. It's not a film that boasts stunning image quality, and it was difficult to see the difference between this and the average standard definition DVD.

As the extras are limited to a director's commentary, I would advise saving some money by purchasing the much cheaper standard DVD.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
The Company of Wolves, Neil Jordan's violent retelling of the Little Red Riding Hood tale, is weird, wonderful and gorgeously photographed. It's a story of a young girl's transition to adulthood, with all the sexual awakening and conflicted feelings one might suppose. This part of the story is told with great empathy and imagination. However, be prepared for werewolves, gore, creepy woods and creepy characters. It's hard to tell who's more unsettling, the wolves or granny. A very good movie. The DVD transfer is quite watchable.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Visually this is stunning, the constructed sets and deep dark colours enforce the dreamlike quality. I found myself unnerved and dazzled by the intensity derived from this strange and intelligent narrative that provokes and challenges.

The film is based on story by the same name by Angela Carter, she re-writes Little Red Riding Hood, revaluating werewolves, women's sexuality and innocence. But the film goes one step further by directly bringing the film into the `present'; the protagonist is a young girl on the cusp of womanhood, whose dreams are troubled with wolves coming for her and her older sister who has already reached puberty. She seems to be both fearful and welcoming to adulthood, as she twists and turns in bed dreaming of her sister being hunted and killed by wolves, she wears makeup and smiles softly. Her dreams become more convoluted when she seems to become a young girl in the times when these myths were originally heeded, she acts out the moral warning and finds release, as does Carter's heroin in the company of wolves, not through fear but by accepting what is in myths the embodiment of man and nature combined - the werewolf, she becomes one and by doing this she embraces her own sexuality.

There is so much that can be analysed here but I'll keep it brief and simply say that this is an extraordinary film that deserves at least one viewing if for nothing more than experience, as its definitely that.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 24 February 2011
I knew I would love The Company of Wolves because Angela Carter wrote it & Angela Lansbury plays a granny with punch. Like other works by Angela Carter, there are so many symbols, visual puns & conundrums that the whole is a bit less than the sum of all its parts - but gives plenty to speculate & talk about. I happened to see the film 3 times in 2 weeks because of 2 visiting daughters a week apart & I enjoyed it equally all 3 times. I know the lovely little Sarah Patterson only made 2 more films, but why haven't we seen more of Tusse Silberg? I thought she was beautiful & touching as Rosaleen's mother & a perfect foil to the sharp-tongued granny. Even though the set is SO obviously a set - part of the fun - the film still shows more effectively than many on-location epics why people settled together in villages.
Coolest touch - an uncredited Terence Stamp as Mr. Suave Satan in a limo driven by Rosaleen-as-trashy-blonde. Who could resist him? (Not me!)
Cleverest fracture to the traditional fairy tale - the huntsman is also the wolf & we all know Rosaleen knows at once.
Better catch this wolf before the Hollywood remake!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 16 November 2012
The Company of Wolves is simply a stunning visual and narrative treat for both horror and arthouse fans, and is definitely one of the best British films ever made.

Bringing together the humorous witchery of the awesome Angela Carter and the sensitive intractable beauty of Neil Jordan's direction, the art department's superlative recreation of the fairy tale dream forest, and the suitably gory visual effects, which really were quite splendid for 1984, all combine to produce a funny, frightening, at times deliberately anachronistic, labyrinth of images and folk tales, and if its ever Freudian, it is so only with its tongue firmly in its cheek.

Carter's genius script takes the myth of the werewolf and the red riding hood tale as starting points for a sublime journey into the psycho-sexual fantasies of a teenage girl, which whilst they initially seem to lead one to the point of cliche suddenly perform psychic transformations which breathe marvellous new life into the matrices of gender and sexual politics. Don't get me wrong, the film is not a heavy thesis dressed up as pantomime, but a throughly intellectual and artistic treat that can be enjoyed on many levels.

The 18 rating is misleading and too restrictive these days as the film will very much appeal to thoughtful teenagers as much as adults, much as it did in the 80s - it really does not contain any material which could be deemed as 'adults only'. Parents will know if their children are mature enough to enter into this kind of contemplation.

The blu-ray transfer is wonderfully sharp, bringing out all the superlative detail and design in sets and costumes, and the sound is crisp and clear - a huge improvement on any previous dvd release. Great commentary from Jordan as he recounts his magical collaboration with the much-missed Carter, and whilst any other extras a sadly thin on the ground, this doesn't detract from the fact that this film is an essential purchase and should be part of any film fan's collection.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
TOP 50 REVIEWERon 3 September 2013
Having not seen this film since it was first released, I now wonder why I had hesitated so long. It is actually one of the great British films, creating a fantasy world of real potency, while being somehow very much of its period. Kate Bush's classic song seems to be lurking in the wings but never quite materialises, while the actual music by George Fenton is atmospheric and points up every nuance of the action. It constantly grabs the ear but never overpowers the visual aspect. The story-telling is quite brilliant, with a dense interleaving of dream and tales from the grandmother (mainly), played with pin-prick precision by Angela Lansbury. There is a basis in Little Red Riding Hood but the tale ranges all over the place, riding on the crest of Freudian waves that surge with a fantastic allegorical undertow. The Gothic visuals are intensely cinematic, and all the performances uncannily good. If only innocent but curious (and very pretty) Rosaleen had listened to her grandmother and not overlooked those draught-excluder eyebrows, you say with a shudder; but then there would be no film, and we are as curious as she is ... Besides the wolves, fearsome as they are, have a stunning beauty and their pelts and expression have an incredible mystery and softness; nothing seems to yield to simple definitions.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 12 June 2003
The screenplay of this film was a colloboration between director Neil Jordan (Interview With A Vampire, The Crying Game) and feminist author Angela Carter, and is based upon a short story by Carter from her collection of short stories 'The Bloody Chamber'. This story, in turn, is based upon the classic children's story 'Little Red Riding Hood', but is filled with dark, menacing, and sexual imagery, all of which are used in the screenplay to create this stunning piece of gothic 'horror'.
That said, I always balk when I see this film placed in the 'Horror' section of any store, and cringe whenever I read a synopsis describing this film as a story about werewolves. Both descriptions are very wide of the mark. This is a story about the transition from childhood to adulthood of a teenage girl, and the symbolism throughout the film is subtle and powerful simultaneously. As such, it pretty much goes without saying that if you are looking for a scary movie, you're probably in the wrong place.
The highlights of this movie are:- Angela Lansbury as 'Granny', who turns in a wonderful performance and really adds a touch of class to the film. Also, the set design and lighting is brilliant, evoking a truly gothic feel to the scenes. For example, most of the movie is based 'outdoors' (like in the woods or in the village), and yet you always get the feeling of an enclosed and somewhat foreboding environment. This feels exactly right given that the story is centred around the character of a young girl, whose world consists solely of the small and familiar surroundings of home, where the outside world is only known to her through the fantastic stories of her Grandmother, where men, wolves and 'straying from the path' are to be feared.
Another, and major, highlight of this movie is the wonderful soundtrack by George Fenton, which is worth having on CD itself. Combining adaptations of traditional folk music with eerie, ominous synth sounds does as much to enhance the gothic atmosphere as the visual effects and set design.
Other than that, the rest of the performances are generally pretty good, especially Neil Jordan's staple actor, Stephen Rea, as well as a fine cameo from Brian Glover and debut from the beautiful and talented Sarah Patterson as the lead charcter 'Rosaleen', who sadly hasn't done much else since as far as I know. The film is also quite famous for it's man-to-wolf scenes and an early use of animatronics. The effects, sadly, do look pretty dated now, but the context of the scenes in which they are used is untainted, and remain powerful scenes both visually and emotionally. The fact that Rosaleen, after witnessing the pain and anquish that such a transition entails, openly weeps and says 'I'm sorry, I didn't know a wolf could cry', is brilliantly emotional and indicative of her almost complete transition from unknowing child, to compassionate and knowing young adult.
All in all, this is a great movie that is so full of rich imagery and subtlety, that it promises to provide great re-watch value, and should not be considered as a 'horror-flick'... unfortunately, most stores don't have a section entitled 'Enchanting fantasy gothic adult fairytale stories'...
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on 1 July 2011
Being one of my favourite films of all time, I was eagerly awaiting the Blu-ray edition, but was severely disappointed as the quality of Blu-ray transfer. The manufacturer/production company have clearly made no attempt to restore/remaster the frames of film, as there are myriad white, glowing specks springing forth on most scenes. I compared the Blu-ray to the DVD Special Edition I had from 2005 and there is only a fractional improvement in the image resolution with the Blu-ray. To compound matters the DVD Special Edition bizarrely had more extra features. The Blu-ray does have a superior sound stage though, but it's not worth buying it for this alone.

This is not the first time a Blu-ray I've bought has not adequately surpassed the production quality of a DVD. There is no excuse for it, other than profiteering, as older films like Zulu are superlative on Blu-ray. The companies who own the rights to licence films for the Blu-ray market should demonstrate greater conscience and only release films on Blu-ray after a convincing restoration/remastering job from the original film production master.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 13 May 2006
This is a cinematic re-take of the little red riding hood fairy tale based on the short story of the same name by Angela Carter (contained in her collection "The Bloody Chamber"). Told as multiple stories within stories, much like Chinese boxes, the film relates a variety of were-wolf stories, all woven around Rosaleen, the little red riding hood character.

The film is very slow-paced and thus somewhat of an anomaly in our action-packed cinematic days. But despite this, it is laden with tension, the tension of growing up, becoming sexually aware and entering a new and confusing world of danger and attraction. The imagery is rich and reveals depths lacking in more fast-paced counterparts.

Sarah Patterson is not only a pretty, but very convincing Rosaleen on the edge of puberty, full of desires and the awakenings of realisations of adulthood; Angela Lansbury is superbly cast as the somewhat sinister and scary grandmother. Indeed, the whole cast is well chosen. The special effects are typical pre-CGI children of the 80s, but good nevertheless, even if they do slightly revel in their own ingenuity. What is a shame though is that the director only had two wolves at his disposition so that most wolves shown are various 'wolfish' breeds of dogs, requiring quite a suspension of disbelief on the part of the audience in the wolf scenes.
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