Thursday, 1 February 2007

"Sweetest Tongue, Hath Sharpest Tooth"

A few years ago,I saw a movie called "The Company of Wolves" (1984) for the very talented Irish director,Neil Jordon (the Crying game, Interview with a vampire).It's what you could describe as little red riding hood with a twist. It was such a fascinating almost weird little movie that equated puberty and the coming of age with Little red riding hood's journey to her Granny and confrontations with the big bad wolf..
I remember the movie having this dreamy,magical feel to it,I remember how beautiful it's young lead was and I also remember how brilliant Stephen Rea was as usual.The most thing I remember though, was this little poem :

Little girls, this seems to say,
Never stop upon your way,
Never trust a stranger-friend;
No one knows how it will end.
As you're pretty so be wise;
Wolves may lurk in every guise.
Handsome they may be, and kind,
Gay, and charming - never mind!
Now, as then, ‘tis simple truth -
Sweetest tongue has sharpest tooth!

I was fascinated by this poem and even more by the fact that it was present in the original version of Little Red Riding hood written by Charles Perrault, written in the morally decadent period of King Louis XIV. Apparently, Little Red Riding Hood was initially full of sexual connotations and ended with the death of not only Granny but also LRRH. There's actually a certain amount of blame placed on LRRH in the original story for allowing herself to be violated (tricked and killed) by the wolf.It was sort of a harsh moral warning to women against the advances of men. It was later cleaned up by the Brothers Grimm and published in it's modern form (which had actually been banned in some US schools due to it's erotic content!).
It's funny how a fairytale can seem applicable in a lot of different ways in a lot of different time periods.

Well, that was my random bit for the day. Ciao.

Perrault's version :


JUDY said...

i like the film =D and its connotations and love the poem ^^

Robert Dee said...

One of my favorite films. If you are into folklore and fairy tales, I'd recommend The Annotated Classic Fairy Tales by Maria Tatar - excellent book of the original stories with beautiful pictures from Gustav Dore and others.

Debbie said...

Thank you so much for your insight..!

Anonymous said...

I once read that the author of the poem is unknown, and that the poem was not in the original manuscript by Perrault or the Grimms, but it did appear in Grimms printing.

It was speculated that the poem may have been added by the printer, as it wasn't unusual for an no-name amateur poet with connections to do something like that.

I wish I could find the reference again.