A Love Affair with a Beast
Before there was Twilight, or Blood & Chocolate to demonstrate themes of werewolves in love with humans, and humans in love with werewolves, there was The Company of Wolves. Inherent throughout the film are various popular themes, both cinematic and social, and shares certain similarities with the film Labyrinth of the same era. For example, the sleeping girl approaching a more mature point in her life, is surrounded by storybooks and toys of her past youth, which she confronts in her dreams; some are sinister, some are kindly, but all face an inevitability of replacement when the girl wakes up to embrace her adult life. The two 80’s films also reflect the growing strength in the feminine psyche; to be self-sufficient, to be one’s own protector, and to cast away the metaphorical irons bars of a male dominated society.
The werewolf is painted within The Company of Wolves as human; capable of the same brutality, greed, love, hate, and lust as a human man, or woman. The primary theme of the film is that during the course of female maturity, there are many dangers, and that the most threatening is the male wolf archetype. Protecting virtue, and innocence, is the grandmother archetype; she warns the girl about the wolf. The male wolf archetype is depicted in the film and in life as a man or woman who is vindictive, and wild; a great pretender, very clever, lustful, though capable of love. The quintessential man in a way, the wolf archetype has a primitive heart. He longs to run wild, to hunt, to fight, to lust; the mind is modern, usually very intelligent, and at the least, very clever.
The girl is an archetype unto herself; think of her as the Virgin. Fresh in the world, untouched by great sorrow, unkissed, and protected. The Virgin has no understanding of love except what she gleans from her parents, and her grandmotherly teacher instructs her to fear men, fear love, –at least on a subconscious level, to fear the wolf archetype in men who would love her and abandon her, or use her roughly and cast her aside. All young girls are taught the same thing; to be abstinent, to choose who we kiss carefully, and so on. The grandmother is the voice of all mothers and grandmothers telling women they’re too young, not old enough, that no one is good enough for them, to never have sex, to wait, wait, wait for love.
Eventually, women stop waiting and choose someone, at some point, who is too wild, too angry, too primitive, and suffer the decision to lust or love their very own wolf archetype. The film’s primary theme is eventually, the virgin becomes a woman by straying from the path and meeting her first wolf; she either tames, suffers or loses him. The first encounter with a wolf is the instant the grandmotherly archetype of everlasting virtue dissipates, and dies. In the film, we witness one more important archetype to fit in with the three others in order to make a full round of important social types; the virgin, the mother, the matron, the wolf. They function thus: the Virgin awaits the wolf that hunts her, the wise mother knows that a woman can tame a beast, the matron educates and warns against affairs with a beast.