For today’s post, I have decided that I will be focusing on the classic fairytale Little Red Riding Hood. This is a story that has inspired re-imaginings and references throughout pop culture for centuries.
We all know the basic tale, a little girl is sent by her mother with food for her sick grandmother. On her way through the woods to reach her grandmother’s house, she ends up meeting a wolf. This wolf convinces her to go off the beaten path to pick flowers for her grandmother (or, in some versions, she chooses to herself and meets the wolf this way). While Little Red is distracted he makes haste to get to her grandmother’s first. He eats grandma, then pretends to be her in order to eat Little Red also. In the end, Red and Grandma get cut out of the wolf’s stomach by a helpful huntsman! There are variants of the tale, of course, but this is the basic format of the tale. It can generally be seen as a morality tale that teaches children that they should not trust strangers, in this case, a wolf. The simplicity of the tale makes it something that lends itself well to other interpretations.
There are songs like “Lil’ Red Riding Hood” and she has made appearances in Into The Woods and Happily N’Ever After as a character. Both of these films have the character of Red Riding Hood as a young girl still but inject elements of other fairytales (in the case of Into the Woods) or mystery (in the case of Happily N’Ever After). As a character, this little girl has never been far from us as a culture!
As time went on the character began to be featured in further interpretations, even as an adult woman. In Once Upon A Time, she is Ruby, a girl who is born with a werewolf gene, and her red cloak is magical and able to protect her from turning during a full moon! In the film Red Riding Hood, Amanda Seyfried played the titular character, who finds out that the wolf that has been terrorizing her village is her own father. I love that each offers a good injection of the werewolf into this classic fairytale.
Ruby on Once Upon A Time is a strong-willed character that the audience first meets as a wild child waitress working in her granny’s diner. During flashbacks in the first season, it shows that she was once Red Riding Hood, and had become friends with Snow White. Her werewolf curse both impeded her, causing trouble, and later was a source of empowerment as she learned to control the wolf within! She was a true badass, and this is something that makes her a really interesting take on the classic character.
Red Riding Hood is a film that tells the tale of Valerie. It is set in a medieval village that is beset by a wolf, and as the story unfolds it becomes clear that the wolf is a werewolf! As I mentioned above Valerie finds out that her own father was the wolf, and she becomes one, along with the man she loves. There is also the plot of loving a man that her family disapproved of, making this a film that utilized a love triangle as well as the classic fairytale imagery. I personally enjoy this film for its fun and dark fantasy take on the tale!
This tale makes the perfect fodder for a good horror twist, if you want monsters then do the werewolf trope, if you want a slasher flick have a serial killer playing the wolf! At the end of the day, fairytales are staples of growing up, and as we continue to tell them they evolve. This evolution can make them a great marker of the fears of different people in different time periods. A certain interpretation of a tale could speak to the truth of what is going on at a volatile time, by framing true feelings as a fictional story!
I hope that you have enjoyed this analysis of the classic fairytale. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!
Note on Image: The image at the top of the post is Amanda Seyfried in Red Riding Hood. I found the image on https://www.empireonline.com/movies/reviews/red-riding-hood-review/.
- Little Red Riding Hood by The Brothers Grimm
- Into the Woods (2014)
- Happily N’Ever After (2006)
- Red Riding Hood (2011)
- Once Upon A Time (2011)
- Lil’ Red Riding Hood song by Sam The Sham & The Pharaohs