Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Red Riding and Her Friends (1961)

Set a month after the events in Little Red Riding Hood the film starts as the Wolf, still patrolling the forest but taking occasional time out to visit Grandma's house where he proceeds to over eat dinner (he eats the dishes and the table cloth. Not long after one dinner Red arrives. They soon discover that some gypsies are camping outside of grandmas house. The towns folk decide they want the gypsies gone. They send the Wolf to tell the gypsies to tell them to leave after 14 days. The wolf tries to extort animals from them but Little Red intervenes and makes friends with them. In reward one of the women teaches Red to dance.

Friction between the village and the gypsies grows. The Wolf gets caught in the middle and he has a run in with some villagers who who don't like him and are more than willing to kill him on the spot despite his changed ways. From there things go off in a couple different directions as the some of the gypsies contemplate carrying off Red, the Wolf is set up to look like a killer and there is a forbidden love between two of the gypsies.

A heavy duty film about tolerance, prejudice and not trusting people, the film is firmly focused on the Wolf and Stinkie the skunk. Red is still around but much of the film is focused on the raw deal and gas lighting of the Wolf. I'm not sure it all works, but like the earlier Red Riding Hood, it's a film that is uniquely it's own animal, or rather one that only really is like the films in the series.(Heck when was the last time you saw a kids film with blood including coming from one of the main characters who is shot late in the film)

To be quite honest I'm not sure what I think of the film. On some level I appreciate that the film is trying to do more that just be a kids film, there are some heavy lessons here, but I'm not sure the intended audience will get the message. On the other hand the film is often down right silly which makes it a hard trek for older audiences.

As with the first film, anyone who wants to see all facets of film and not just the ones on the main road or the stuff the major studios force feed us are requested to try and track down the films in the series. Not so much because they are good rather because they are truly unique and an antidote to the corporate crap that is churned out nowadays by Hollywood. It's also a way of seeing the films that helped inspire the strangeness of the late 1960's. (Okay I'm making that up but this film scarred many of us who saw it as kids in the 60's and 70's and 80's)

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