The Company of Wolves

Notes on the film and its score by Steven J. Lehti
Originally published in CinemaScore #15, 1986/1987
Text reproduced by kind permission of the editor and publisher Randall D. Larson

One of the most remarkable and original films released in America in 1985 was THE COMPANY OF WOLVES, a British picture filmed at Shepperton Studios with dense, storybookish sets that made it look like a movie Hammer Films would have made if they had the money and ambition. But THE COMPANY OF WOLVES is by no means a horror film, though Cannon Films advertised it as such since it does contain some horrific qualities. At its center is a beautiful, typically egotistical adolescent (in both her dreams and her reality she is constantly asked, “what makes you think you’re so special, anyway?”) who has created in her dreams a world right out of an Arthur Rackham or Boris Zvorykin illustration. This world contains a peasants’ village, an atmospheric forest filled with misty trees, man-sized toadstools, doves and snakes, eagles and lizards. And let’s not forget Granny’s Cottage deep in the woods.

An evocation of fairy tales and folk legends, THE COMPANY OF WOLVES attempts to follow some of the implications of these stories to their natural, often unappealing, conclusions. Writers Angela Carter and Neil Jordan (who also directed) accomplish this by casting the stories into the dreams of a troubled thirteen year-old girl who in these dreams takes on the role of Rosaleen, a Little Red Riding Hood character. The dream that the real Rosaleen (in her real world, she actually is never named; however we will called her Rosaleen on the assumption that it is her real name as well as her fantasy name) contains stories within stories, told by her dream Granny and later, a sign of her maturity, by the dream Rosaleen herself. The dream and the stories within it are all of a bizarre allegorical nature. When the film concludes, and we see reality and fantasy have merged together, the waking girl finds herself drawn into the allegory.

And what is the meaning of this allegory in its totality? THE COMPANY OF WOLVES can often confuse the viewer because its structure is initially so disorienting. This helps to explain why so many American critics were put off by THE COMPANY OF WOLVES; the stories baffled them and the beautiful subtleties eluded them. After all, we’re not in RAMBO or STAR WARS territory. Rather, Jordan’s film more resembles a fine, dignified and multi-layered novel. Though a few details here and there may not always meld agreeably, the overall theme and all its ornaments are very clear. And they are impressive. Thus, like the fine novel that rewards in subsequent rereadings, this film demands to be seen again and again. The meaning, imagery and sheer beauty sustain it.

WOLVES deals symbolically with adolescence and adulthood as they are perceived by a hauntingly beautiful girl (played by Sarah Patterson), and as they truly are. This shining film, aglow with moments of brilliance and beauty, is graced with the keen understanding and creativity of its composer, George Fenton. Fenton has won some fame in the United States due to being nominated, with Ravi Shankar, for his score to GANDHI and also for scoring the popular PBS mini-series, THE JEWEL IN THE CROWN. Neither of these works impressed me, but his music here marks him as one of the most promising composers around. His score for WOLVES radiates with ideas, reinforcing many of the film’s symbolic elements, and ultimately ties all of these disparate stories into a cohesive whole. It is one brilliant element of many in a film that centers itself on a brilliant idea. For what better way can there be for a young girl’s subconscious to try to grasp the changes she is going through – both physical and emotional – than to use as a vehicle the stories she had grown up with.

Rosaleen has become more aware of life’s realities, and so consequently the implications of the fairy tales stand forth with greater clarity. Fenton, as we shall see, appropriately uses a similar approach to his scoring: just as Rosaleen uses traditional fairy tales to deal with reality, the composer utilizes a hauntingly ambiguous traditional Swedish theme to illuminate his film.

The film’s opening follows a German Shepherd as it makes its way home. (It passes a well that will later be the center of the dream-Rosaleen’s village.) When the dog reaches home it climbs the stairs to where Rosaleen lies sleeping and scratches at the door (this image foreshadows the film’s last scene). Rosaleen’s parents have just come home, and they debate over her adolescent moodiness. “I’ve tried to talk with her,” the father (David Warner) says, “but she says I don’t understand. And I don’t.” Rosaleen’s older sister complains about her. “You were just as much trouble when you were her age,” the mother admonishes her, “now go up and get her.” The sister goes up to Rosaleen’s door and taunts her. “Pest!” she spits. “What makes you so different anyway, buck-teeth? You’ve been at my lipstick too, haven’t you? Pest!” And indeed Rosaleen has. On her sleeping young face (which strikes one as prematurely beautiful) it is quite conspicuous. Her reddened lips glitter in the dying afternoon sunlight as much as the wolf-girl’s tears glitter in the moonlight in Rosaleen’s last dream story.

Provoked by her sister’s tauntings, Rosaleen (with an almost sexual ecstasy) begins to dream. As we descent into her subconscious, Fenton fills the soundtrack with what has been aptly called “undulating piping keyboard notes” that lend a mood both eerie and primeval. These notes are used whenever we see the real Rosaleen sleeping and then enter her dreams (Jordon often shows her sleeping so we never forget that we are in a young girl’s mind and not in a fairy tale).

In “Rosaleen’s First Dream” (as the segment is titled on the soundtrack album), we see her sister fleeing in terror through a storybook forest replete with giant toads, immense mushrooms, and so forth. Along the way she comes across things familiar to Rosaleen’s household: a grandfather clock, its hands symbolically spinning at great speed, enlarged toys and stuffed animals, and a huge doll house (items we have seen earlier in Rosaleen’s bedroom), from which she tries to derive comfort. But the stuffed animals try to grab her, and the doll house proves to be occupied by a large rat which disgusts her.

And then we see what she is running from: a ravenous pack of wolves with their eyes aglow. She is ultimately surrounded and disappears from view under their swarming grey bodies. Fenton scores much of this with synthesizer, underlining the confusion and fear felt by the older sister as she runs from the as-yet unseen pursuers. The music moves from fear to terror with the terrific burst of a monstrous organ she finds in the forest. The organ music surrounds and pursues her, along with the synthesized bayings of wolves and a peculiarly effective synthesized metallic “pounding” noise.

At the end of Rosaleen’s dream, we see that it has been no nightmare for her. She smiles in her sleep and continues to dream. This has been sweet revenge against her bitchy older sister! The dream continues as we see Rosaleen with her parents in the village churchyard, where the funeral for her wolf-slain sister is in progress. Exchanging looks with a bumpkinish boy who will soon be her first “date,” she sticks her tongue out at him. If you keep this childish act in mind, at the film’s conclusion you’ll realize how much Rosaleen has matured from contemplating the nature of wolves.

Rosaleen’s dream parents are the same as in real life, though in our glimpses of the real Rosaleen’s family, a grandmother is not in evidence. But there is a dream-grandmother at the funeral (a delicious, energetic performance by Angela Lansbury), and the attentive viewer will notice Granny’s unmistakable resemblance to the granny doll the real Rosaleen has in her room. This granny offers to relieve the grief-stricken parents of their surviving daughter for the night. She takes Rosaleen to her cottage, passing through that stylishly-designed forest full of life, at once hauntingly beautiful (huge trees, mist, birds) and repulsive (toads, snakes and the like). Fenton’s scoring for the Forest will be discussed later.

Granny tells her maturing grand-daughter that a wolf “may be more then he seems. The worst wolves are hairy on the inside.” Rosaleen’s sister was eaten by wolves because she strayed from the path’s safety. Thus, Granny is full of advice: “Never stray from the path (once you do, you’re lost forever), never eat a windfallen apple, and never trust a man whose eyebrows meet.” And she tells Rosaleen of a village woman who did.

In this flashback (“Story of the Bride and Groom” on the album, one of the film’s many stories-within-the-dream), a newly-married couple are escorted to their cottage by a parade of villagers and left alone. But before the marriage can be consumated, the groom (a mysterious traveling man) sees the moon and steps out, he tells the woman, to answer “the call of nature.” The bride waits, and she waits, and then later hears howlings in the night. She looks out the window and sees the yard full of wolves. The woman is left to assume that her groom has been eaten, as he is never seen again. At least, not until she marries again (to a man “not too shy to piss in a pot,” as Granny dryly puts it) and has children. We see her former husband return to the cottage, wild-haired and looking as though he’d lived in the forest the whole time. When this grim man whose eyebrows meet realizes that she has had children with someone else, he transforms himself into a wolf to eat her (“I’ll teach this whore a lesson!” he vows). Fortunately for her, her husband returns and decapitates the wolf. Looking at her first husband’s now-normal face (bobbing in the milky-whiteness of the soup pot where it has fallen), she tells her new husband, “He looks the same as the day I married him.” For this he cruelly strikes her.

For the Village Wedding, Fenton chose a piece of traditional Swedish music, played by two fiddlers (one lame, one blind) as the wedding party takes he newlyweds home. It is a haunting piece ambiguously expressive — in in an elegaic sense — of life. It is happy music, or mournful? It somehow manages to be both: at once an exuberant celebration and a funeral dirge. Locked away in this musical duality is a sense of “the naive and the sophisticated,” as Fenton himself explains in his liner notes to the British edition of the soundtrack: “It is both modal and chromatic, primitive and yet full of subtlety.”

Fenton uses the music throughout his score. It seems to be constantly working in and out of the background in the most inobtrusive fashion, and is sometimes blown up so grandly and so cleverly for large orchestra that we hardly recognize it. On three other occasions we hear this Traditional theme in its purest, paired-violin form, the first of which I will detail momentarily.

The concrete meaning of this tale of the Bride and Groom is not entirely clear, but the emotional impact on Rosaleen may be apprehended. The young newlyweds obviously do not know or understand each other, and though the woman is sexually eager, this seems to be her first encounter. The two never reach any sort of understanding, and evidently the woman also has no understanding with her second husband, as he immediately assumes the worst concerning the presence of the first husband and strikes her.

There is a sense of the mysterious and the unfathomable in male-female relationships, especially among adults. At one point in this long, complex dream, Rosaleen sees her parents making love. It appears tiresome and unpleasant. The next morning she asks her mother if Daddy hurt her. “It sounded like the beasts Granny talks about,” she comments. “If there’s a beast in men,” Mother responds, “it meets its match in women, too.” Here, and in the “Story of the Bride and Groom,” sex is closely linked with the repulsive (i.e., wolves and their gory transformations from men). But in this movie rife with dualities of attraction/repulsion, we’ll find in the “One Sunday Afternoon” story that sex offers another side of the coin.

Back to “The Story of the Bride and Groom.” The lycanthrope Groom himself is strange and unfathomable (we naturally identify with the Bride), and Fenton’s music definitely sympathizes with her bewilderment over men. His music for the Groom is bizarre and atonal, full of synthesized effects and subtle wolf howls. The horrifying transformation scene – in which the bride cowers helplessly with her children huddled in terror behind her – is scored featuring a tortuous violin. And once the wolf has been dispatched, Fenton uses a single violin to somberly carry the Traditional theme; it indeed seems like a dirge for the loneliness and emotional brutality of adult life.

The confirmation of Fenton’s purpose for using the Traditional theme comes in a beautiful little scene after Granny concludes her story. She demands of Rosaleen a goodnight kiss (apparently the only sort of kissing she wants her granddaughter to be involved in) before they retire. Granny sleeps in a prim and proper position, on her back with her hands neatly folded upon her chest. She even wears a nightcap. Rosaleen lies beside her granny, on her side in a more sensual and comfortable position. Still awake, and evidently still pondering, she watches her granny a moment and then looks up at the night sky seen in the cottage window. In the distance, wolves can be heard howling, and right at this point Fenton brings in a phrase of the Traditional theme as we first heard it during the village wedding. It’s a wonderfully subtle moment, and in this way Fenton helps tie together adulthood and the wolves. Played at the village wedding (an adult affair) and then associated with wolves, it binds the two together and throughout the film stands for the idea of adulthood. Though Granny has tried to sour Rosaleen on adult life by showing how terrible men can be, adulthood in the form of a Swedish folk tune and a wolf’s howl still beckon to Rosaleen in the night.

If Fenton gives adulthood a theme, he also gives childhood – or, more correctly, adolescence — a theme, too. It doubles as Rosaleen’s theme, as she is the archetypal child/adolescent. Usually played by solo violin, it possesses a lonely, melancholy and self-absorbed feeling, suggesting the isolation and loneliness of individuals and their solitary emotions. We also have here shadings of timidity and curiosity in the face of encroaching adulthood, echoing Rosaleen’s feelings as she moves through the dream to its conclusion. The Adolescent Theme is often counterpointed by the Adult Theme as Rosaleen’s feelings are torn. In the climax of the film, where Rosaleen becomes an adult, the two are brilliantly merged together into one.

The Adolescent Theme is most moving when heard in two of the film’s best, most memorable sequences: “One Sunday Afternoon” and “The Wolfgirl.” In the former, our young heroine consents to go for a walk with the aforementioned bumpkinish village boy. On this walk (before which, Granny sternly warns them not to stray from the path) the two flirt, Rosaleen plays aloof, and the boy finally, awkwardly, kisses her. Fenton’s scoring for their interactions captures their lively, confused feelings, their fear and timidity, and their youthful naivete.

But Rosaleen mischievously flees from the boy after having fulfilled his dare to kiss him back. She hides above him in a huge tree far off the path. Curious, she climbs the tree (an overt-enough phallic symbol) and emerges with a spectacular view of the whole forest as the pitiable boy wanders about, looking for her far below. The Adolescent Theme comes through in full symphonic splendor as Rosaleen revels in her discovery: the elevated view of forest and sky, and new understanding. Higher up she finds a birdnest which, along with eggs, holds a shiny mirror and a container of lipstick. As Rosaleen uses these to make herself up, a magical and curious thing happens. The eggs split open, revealing tiny porcelain images of infants. She later shows one to her mother (and we see a tear form in the eye of the baby – perhaps a tear for the pain of life), who smiles understandingly. For Rosaleen realizes the promise and allure of motherhood, something she can share with her own mother. Here we have a brighter aspect of sex to contrast with the darker side shown in “The Story of the Bride and Groom.”

Fenton quietly uses the Adolescent Theme during this magical scene of discovery in the tree; it is a solemn, emotional and very important moment for Rosaleen as she gains some understanding of her own potential, one of the many things puberty has given her. Fenton’s hushed, quietly-stated version of the theme here is crucial; we’ll find it equally important during the Wolfgirl story. This is how she comes to tell it: On the way to visit Granny at her isolated cottage, Rosaleen (wearing the blood-red cloak Granny made for her) meets a very sensual Huntsman in the woods. He makes all too clear his desire for her. Expressing her attraction for him, she says that the village boys are all idiots — meaning, of course, that she wants more than they can offer. The Huntsman is much older; he breathes sophistication and sexuality. His eyebrows meet. Fenton deftly characterizes him with a harpsichord.

The Huntsman speaks provocatively to the receptive Rosaleen. “I have an instrument,” he says, “in my pocket. Most remarkable object. Goes everywhere with me.” The “instrument” he speaks of so slyly proves to be a compass. “I always want to know where I’m going,” he claims, and vows that he can beat her to Granny’s cottage by cutting through the forest, using his compass, while she stays on “the dreary old path.” Rosaleen accepts the challenge.

The Bringer of Adulthood does arrive first. Recognizing his savagery, Granny demands, “What have you done with my granddaughter?” “Nothing she didn’t want!” he retorts. Granny gamely attempts to fend him off with a hot poker, but he is too strong and fast. Lashing out, he strikes her and actually manages to behead her. The head flies across the room in slow motion and shatters like porcelain on the wall. This may confound the viewer unless one remembers that Granny has been modeled by Rosaleen after her doll. In this way, then, the Huntsman has shattered Rosaleen’s childhood.

The Huntsman rocks himself in Granny’s chair as he awaits Rosaleen’s arrival. Here we are treated once more to the Traditional Theme in its original form, as the Huntsman’s crazed, staring eye rhythmically moves in and out of the stationary frame as he rocks back and forth. The Traditional Theme here sounds like a mad scherzo, punctuated by a pounding drum. On our previous hearing, the tune seemed exuberant as it beckoned a restless Rosaleen to adulthood. Here it dances in demonic triumph while gleefully anticipating Rosaleen’s inevitable arrival.

Adding a grim touch, on her approach to the cottage Rosaleen glances up to see a full red moon, and in it a blinking eye staring balefully down at her. Upon entering the cottage, she’s not at all surprised to see the Huntsman there and Granny dispatched. He urges her to burn the red cloak Granny had made for her. “Your kind can’t stomach clothes, can you?” she sniffs as she tosses this relic of childhood into the flames. She is as detached parting with the cloak as upon discovery that the sensual Huntsman killed her Granny.

Wolves gather outside the cottage, and the night air swells with their howlings. “They’re only my companions, dear,” he assures her. “I love the company of wolves.” But Rosaleen is still reluctant to accept the Huntsman’s advances, and they fight. She wounds him with a gun, and in a strangely beautiful scene (contrasted with the “Story of the Bride and Groom” with its terrifying transformation), he turns into a wolf. As a wolf, however, he looks quite harmless – like a friendly malamute – and not at all what she expected. “I’m sorry,” she comforts the unhappy creature. “I never knew a wolf could cry. Listen. I’ll tell you a story of a wounded wolf.”

“Once upon a time,” she begins, “when the village was asleep, a she-wolf came from the World Below to the World Above. She meant harm to no one, but someone meant harm to her.” The scene opens to portray Rosaleen’s story. We see a wolf timidly emerge from the village well at night (identical to the well we saw near the real Rosaleen’s house at the film’s opening). A shot is fired from a darkened doorway and the animal is wounded. The wolf flees in pain to he home of the elderly village minister. It has just suffered from the worst of human traits: selfish paranoia, lack of understanding and terrible cruelty. Now it will experience humanity’s best: extraordinary compassion.

Summoned by scratches on the door, the minister emerges and finds a weeping, frightened girl cowering behind a tombstone. “Are you God’s work, or the Devil’s?” he asks, then reconsiders the question. “Oh, what do I care whose work you are? You poor, speechless creature! Don’t worry, my child, your wound will heal — in time. All wounds heal, in time.” The Wolfgirl’s tears shine in the moonlight. The tears fall onto a white rose; scarlet creeps over its petals until it has become a fully red rose. Here, in this lovely, splendidly simple image, we have the essence of the film wrapped up: the painful passage from innocence to experience.

“And the wound did heal,” Rosaleen continues her narration. “She was just a girl, after all, who had strayed from the path in the forest, and remembered what she found there.” We see the Wolfgirl stealthily retreat to the well. “Back through the forest she ran, and ran and ran, to the village and the World she knew.” The Wolfgirl creeps into the well, only her hand lingering on the ledge. She evidently cannot accept the minister’s wisdom. It’s as though Rosaleen, at this late stage, thinks she can taste adulthood, but can then retreat to the safety and simplicity of childhood if she doesn’t like what she finds. “She crept inside to the World Below, and that’s all I’ll tell you, because that’s all I know.” Indeed, the Wolfgirl’s story is not yet finished.

Fenton scores the whole story with a stealthy air of mystery, pain and loneliness, the latter two marvelously wrapped up in Gavyn Wright’s solo violin as it carries the Adolescent Theme. How appropriate is that theme’s employment here! It has popped up whenever Rosaleen encounters or meditates upon facets of adulthood (it’s even heard as a simple prefatory lullaby when we see Rosaleen sleeping, about to dream her first dream), and clearly the Wolfgirl is Rosaleen. At least, the Wolfgirl is how Rosaleen fancies herself. This proves to be the last story told in the film, and it represents Rosaleen’s starting to come to grips, albeit unrealistically, with what lies ahead for her.

But her time is at hand: upon conclusion of the wolfgirl story that she has related to the Huntsman-wolf, Rosaleen’s parents and some villagers descend upon the cottage to save her. A wolf bursts out through Granny’s cottage window, plunging into the forest. Rosaleen’s mother enters the cottage and sees a second wolf remaining, this one with Rosaleen’s cross hanging from its neck (the same cross belonging to her older sister, removed from her corpse at the funeral and given to Rosaleen; it can be seen as a rite-of-passage ornament). The father enters and moves to shoot, but the wife, suddenly realizing that the wolf is Rosaleen, shoves the gun away. The she-wolf leaps out the window and bounds into the forest after the first wolf as her parents and the village boy scream her name. They are begging her to come back, but she leaves them and Granny’s cottage behind.

The cue for this scene is called “Liberation,” and with its ringing tone of triumph as Rosaleen escapes that title does not seem ironic. But Rosaleen has forgotten her Granny’s warning: “A wolf may be more than he seems.” The dream “ends” as the wolves, joined by their company, leap over toys and bound through the real Rosaleen’s now-decayed house. They crowd up the stairs and to her door, while others break through her bedroom window, knocking her toys to the ground (including the granny doll) where they break. The landscapes of reality and dream have merged at last. The awakened Rosaleen screams. The music has become dissonant and biting and now finishes itself with a sustained note as grim as the one Constant Lambert used to conclude his Anna Karenina. Rosaleen, for better or worse, has joined her older sister: she has become an adult. The synthesized music for the wolves’ attack on the real Rosaleen is identical, by the way, to that of their attack on her sister.

Fenton’s remarkable score for THE COMPANY OF WOLVES is organized and well thought out. It stays closely attached to the events and, especially, the emotions at hand. The scoring for the forest scenes indulges in interesting effects: pan flutes, synthesizers, breathing effects and dissonant and conflicting instruments playing off one another. The forest teams with life and vitality. With its lovely mists and stealthy snakes, it is both beautiful and dangerous, a manifestation of the duality that attracts Rosaleen herself. She is always eager to touch spiders or dead men’s severed hands, yet delights in beautiful things like the porcelain babies or the vista of forest and sky seen from atop the huge tree. (This duality runs constant in WOLVES. Find anything of positive connotations mentioned in the film, like priests, and you’ll see its negative aspects lurking right behind, like priests’ bastard sons).

The forest represents adult life, the beauty of which for the girl is sexuality and motherhood, and the ugliness of which would be isolation, insensitivity and the hollowness of male-female relationships. Rosaleen’s parents and Granny wish her to keep safe to the path, or to stay in the comfort and security of the village. Fenton captures the forest’s duality perfectly, with his lovely sympathetic flights countered by rumbling, sinister rushes.

As he discusses in his liner notes (included only on the British edition of the soundtrack), Fenton takes a dual approach to scoring the film’s stories as well. Granny’s stories have an unearthly, timeless feel to them — lots of breathing effects and synthesizer pulses. These include “The Story of the Bride and Groom” and “The Boy and the Devil.” The latter two meet in the forest, where the Devil (in a limousine chauffered by a sexy, blonde and knowing Rosaleen) ensnares the boy by giving him the gift of manhood. Hair grows on the boy’s chest while creepers and shoots from the forest trap his legs. He grows up, but loses his soul. The Devil’s limousine headlights, not uncoincidently, at their first approach appear to the glowing wolf’s eyes we have seen in “Rosaleen’s First Dream.”

Rosaleen’s stories (and one sign of her maturing is that she starts out as a listener and ultimately grows into a storyteller herself), in contrast, are scored more traditionally, including the meditative lonely violin that characterizes this moody girl. Such is the case with the Wolfgirl story, and with “The Wedding Party,” a tale in which a young expectant mother turns her deceitful lover, his bride, and his wedding guests into gluttonous wolves. Fenton uses Beethoven’s String Trio, Opus 9, No.1, for the wedding party music (actually performed by musicians in the party tent, which sits on the spacious lawn of a stately house suspiciously identical to the real Rosaleen’s), which becomes distorted by wolf howls as the transformations take lace, and then bursts into wild carnival music.

Here again we have a duality of opposites: the beauty of Beethoven’s music versus the slovenly, snobish and lecherous guests at the party. Although the story’s significance may at first seem nebulous, it further illustrates the deceitfulness of adults – especially men – and shows a young woman deriving pleasure in “the power she had over them.” The conclusion of “The Wedding Party” chills us, especially when the woman nurses her baby high up in a tree under the moon (the same tree Rosaleen climbs when she discovers the egg-babies), shrieking with laughter as the wolf-guests serenade her from below. Fenton’s music soars in demonic triumph. Now young Rosaleen contemplates not only sex and motherhood, but power.

Though all the stories in Rosaleen’s dream are approached separately in their scoring, the music still serves to unite them, the dream outside of them, and reality into a cohesive wholeness. The ubiquitousness of the two primary themes, the Adult and the Adolescent, are largely responsible for this. The tapestry between them weaves itself with subtlety. Both themes constantly surface, but curiously are never overworked. From story to story, incident to incident, the presentation of these themes varies so much that we hardly recognize them. Nevertheless they are there, in all their craftiness, binding the whole film together. The interesting thing about Fenton’s blown-up orchestral version of the Adult or Traditional theme for Rosaleen escaping her parents is its detached, non-judgemental stance. As she bounds into the forest it bursts through in all its full glory, but from the vantage of a removed commentator. The emotional tone of “Liberation” seems neither negative nor positive; it simply underscores the momentous event with no opinions, an impartial Herald announcing Adulthood’s arrival. Only when the wolves beak into Rosaleen’s bedroom, destroying her toys and her childhood, does the grim menace come through.

George Fenton’s work here is an outstanding, complex and haunting score for an outstanding, complex and haunting film. Both are to be cherished by those of us who know them now, and those future audiences who will hopefully discover and appreciate them. THE COMPANY OF WOLVES is a visually and thematically stunning masterpiece, and it is to George Fenton’s enormous credit that he more than meets the challenges of both with his music.

© Steven J. Lehti 1987/2018

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