Happy Endings Turn Grimm
On March 11, 2011 Warner Bros picture, "Red Riding Hood" will be hitting a theatre near you. Director Catherine Hardwike (Twilight, Thirteen) and actress Amanda Seyfried (Mamma Mia, Mean Girls, Letters to Juliet) come together to bring audiences a version of the classic fairytale, keeping them on the edge of their seats. The anticipated film will shed new light, err... darkness on the story we all heard growing up. The tale of Little Red Riding Hood has many derivations and can be interpreted to have multiple morals and themes. How did this come to be? And why are these Americanized tales gentler than the original scripts?
Ok--let's get the basics straight. Red, she is a cute girl on her way to Grandma's house. Her mother tells her to stay close to the path, and to beware of strangers. Red meets up with a wolf, who seduces her into straying from the path to pick flowers while he runs ahead and gobbles up poor, sick Grandma. Once Red gets to the house, the wolf is dressed as Grandma and...
Here is when the story fluctuates. Either Red is gobbled up and a woodsman saves her and Grandma by slicing open the wolf's stomach, or Red saves herself with a pair of scissors, or runs away, or Red and Grandma are not saved at all. There are countless endings and twists to every plot. Each ending has taught a new lesson to children. Of course, here in America, most of us believe that Red and Granny were saved by the woodsman. Second chances seem to be a reoccurring theme in our society. Maybe we need the sugar-coated finales because we believe in happy endings, and by passing on the hopeful tale to our children we teach them to learn from mistakes, pick themselves up, and get on with life. Other cultures are not as forgiving.
There are many interpretations of the theme of the fairytale. One is that young ladies should beware of seductive men. Red represents a young girl who is tempted by the intriguing male figure, the wolf. Depending on the ending, the story could be an inspiring tale letting young girls know they must save themselves against ill-willed men. My mom always said, "Never talk to strangers. Strangers are dangers!" This also rings true as a simpler lesson of the story.
As for our society, we have taken the tale of Red Riding Hood to a commercial level harboring the message, "The girl in red, attracts the wolf." For instance, In 1966 Sam and the Sham and the Pharaohs sang, Hey there little red riding hood, you sure are lookin' good. You're everything that a big bad wolf would want. Owoooo! The lyrics are suggesting that it is Red is a temptress and it is actually her seduction that draws the wolf to her. Maybe the lesson we should be teaching our daughters is modesty.
The film and the latest pop-culture version of the story takes a darker view. A werewolf haunts a village, and takes human form in the day...leaving no one safe. Valerie (Seyfried) is caught up in a love triangle and has a connection with the beast that puts her life in danger. It is a horror film, rated PG-13 for violence, creature terror, and some sensuality. Will Americans be surprised with a twisted ending, resulting in Red Riding Hood's daunting fate? I guess we will find out this Friday...
Orenstein, Catherine. Little Red Riding Hood Uncloaked: Sex, Morality, and the Evolution of a Fairy Tale. New York: Basic, 2002. Print.
"Red Riding Hood (2011) - IMDb." The Internet Movie Database (IMDb). Web. 08 Mar. 2011.