Mar 9, 2011

Red Riding Hood

On March 11, 2011, director Catherine Hardwicke of "Twilight" fame's, "Red Riding Hood" opens in theaters.  "Red Riding Hood" is the first in a series of fairy-tale epics either in the works or due out in cinemas in the near future.  According to a recent article in Entertainment Weekly, 3 "Snow White" movies are in the making, along with "Jack the Giant Killer" (Jack & the Beanstalk), "Beastly" (Beauty & the Beast) and "Witch Hunters" (Hansel & Gretel).

History Of The Little Red Riding Hood Tale

The most famous version of "Little Red Riding Hood" was told by the Brothers Grimm.  In that version, a young girl undergoes a harrowing experience involving a "Big Bad Wolf" while on her way to Grandmother's house.  A representative picture of Little Red Riding Hood, as imagined by the Brothers Grimm, is shown below:
Little Red Riding Hood by Gustave Dore'
The Brothers Grimm version of Little Red Riding Hood, however, is not the earliest known version of the story.  The story was told orally by peasants and others as early as the 14th century in both France and Italy.  Another famous writer of "fairy tales," Charles Perrault, wrote Le Petit Chaperon Rouge, which originated from 17th century French folklore. The Brothers Grimm version of "Red Riding" was not written until the 19th century.

More interesting still, the older versions of the tale differed markedly from the more subdued Grimm version.  Earlier versions tend to be darker, far more sinister, and filled with metaphorical references many would view as unsuitable as a "nursery" story for young children.

For example, in Perrault's telling, "Red Riding" is a beautiful young lass, not a little girl, who is deceived by the wicked wolf.  The moral?  Young ladies shouldn't talk to strangers, particularly men who might be nothing more than (metaphorically) wolves seeking to take advantage of them.

It remains to be seen just how Hardwicke will unveil "Red Riding Hood."  What is certain is that "Red Riding" is no little girl.  In Hardwicke's movie, "Red Riding Hood" is all grown up, played by actress Amanda Seyfried, pictured at right.  The wolf is also no ordinary wolf.  He is now a werewolf, and actor Gary Oldman plays the woodsman turned werewolf hunter.

If you have read any reviews of the film, you may be discerning some negativity around the fact that the "Big Bad Wolf" has been "made" into a werewolf.  Undoubtedly, this has everything to do with Hardwicke's connection to the "Twilight" productions.  Not so fast.  As this excellent Wikipedia article discusses, the earliest versions of the tale often depict the wolf as being a werewolf or even something entirely different, such as an ogre.

After the movie opens, I will be interested to hear any of your thoughts or comments about the film, keeping in mind not to spoil any surprise endings the movie might have in store.  Here's hoping it does.

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