Red Riding Hood-the film: More than just a slutty Twilight?

This year will see yet another adaptation of a classic tale: Red Riding Hood-the film.(And this time it’s personal.)

Directed by Twilight director Catherine Hardwick, the film seems to be another story of a young female’s rite of passage, spiced up by some supernatural encounters to serve as metaphors about personal and sexual awakening. Although it did give me some excitement in terms of another post-feminist image of the gothic heroine, a second look at the trailer and a screenshot analysis by Stuart Heritage in the Guardian made me reconsider.

Although the concept of a new take of Red Riding Hood might have some cultural value, as mentioned before, it seems Hardwick merely let a bit loose and did some of the things that Twilight only showed in long meaningful stares between vampire boy and human girl. Basically, Little Red Riding Hood is getting down to business. Heritage’s article points out how the fight against a werewolf (I do have a sly suspicion the murders might be due to someone rather human-Honestly when does Gary Oldman, bless him,not turn out to be the baddy?) is repeteadly accompanied by our main girl tredding on the path of temptation. Which in itself is not wrong, I mean with natural light of that quality and some supringsingly soft-looking moss who wouldn’t be in the mood? But whereas the sexual abstinence in Twilight was often the main point of negative criticism, Red Riding Hood is getting the other edge of the sword. I feel quite ambiguous about the film, as it features ‘I’ll try anything once’ Amanda Seyfriend and, sadly typecast, Gary Oldman, along with Avatar hero Sam Worthington and is obviously trying to jump on the vampire wagon (look out for the unmissable ‘FROM THE DIRECTOR OF TWILIGHT’ moment in the trailer).

But I do feel that it is mainly due to this choice of actors and marketing that it appears basically as a film for those pubescent Twi-Hards who felt their first tingle a few years ago when Edward and Jacob took to the stage, and that the actual story might be able to tell something different. There must be something more behind the popularity of stories about adolescent girls finding themselves in rather metaphorical spaces (Pan’s Labyrinth, Coraline or Burton’s Alice in Wonderland).

If there’s one thing they have in common, it’s their ‘over the shoulder look’.

Red Riding Hood is a figure able to be moulded into any contemporary cultural atmosphere, be it Neil Jordan’s adaptation of another adaptation (by Angela Carter) The Company of Wolves of 1984 or Oliver Stone’s 1996 ‘Grrrrl’ meets ‘Rape-Revenge’ style Freeway, sporting an adolescent Reese Witherspoon and a rather creepy Kiefer Sutherland (think Phone Booth) and I am interested to see how actively 2011’s Red Riding Hood will be facing the big bad wolf. And I mean the actual wolf and the metaphorical one of psychosexual maturation.
Even more intriguing, how will audiences react to such a sexualization of an image of (apparent) childhood innocence.

I do find it really interesting that popular fiction shows a mentionable demand in the ‘lone girl+supernatural’ format ( take Black Swan as an example) and can’t get enough of Hardwicke’s excellent helicopter shots of breathtaking landscapes and am curious but the treatment of sex will be crucial in terms of the interpretation of the recent surge in films about young girls lost in fantastical places. Hopefully, once I get on with the planning of my Masters, I might be able to answer more on this.


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