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Little Red Riding Hood in Matthew Bright’s Freeway (1996) Research Paper

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Updated: Apr 23rd, 2019

In the past, different societies used varied tales to educate the society as well as children on different matters affecting humanity. Besides, they used narratives to warn children against engaging in some activities that could compromise the established social norms. Little Red Riding Hood is a narrative used to warn the children against revealing their secrets to strangers.

The narrative tries to show the children the dangers of associating with strangers (Lang, 1891). Later, Matthew Bright came up with a film version of the same narrative.

In spite of making significant changes in the narrative, the film propagates a theme that is somewhat similar to the theme of the initial oral version. The wordings in the different versions of the tale might be different. Nevertheless, all the versions convey the same message though in different ways.

There are both oral and non-oral versions of Little Red Riding Hood. Generally, non-oral and oral versions of any tale differ significantly. While both versions may try as much as possible to bring out the same theme, the characters in both versions might differ as well as significant changes appear in different scenes. Moreover, some of the scenes in the oral version might differ from the scenes in the non-oral version.

There are significant differences between the Freeway (1996) film by Matthew and the Little Red Riding Hood narrative by Charles Perrault. One of the differences occurs with respect to characters in both the tale and the film.

Perrault uses the title of the narrative as the name of the main character in his narrative while Matthew uses Vanessa as the main character (Wratislaw, 1889). Besides, according to the narrative by Perrault, he uses wolf as the other character while Matthew coins up a character by the name Bob Wolverton who is a serial killer (Preston, 2004).

Significant disparities between the two versions appear with respect to their plots. According to the narrative by Perrault, Little Red Riding Hood’s mother requests her to visit her grandmother and, she prepares some cakes for her. On the way, the girl encounters a wolf, which she tells it all about her grandmother.

The wolf plays a trick against the girl and gets to her grandmother’s house before her. On the other hand, Matthew’s plot is very different. According to the film, Vanessa decides to go to her grandmother after suffering in the hands of her cruel stepfather and prostitute mother.

After her foster parents are arrested, she vows not to live under foster care again. She stills a car and on her way to her grandmother’s house, the vehicle breaks down forcing her to look for assistance (Bright, 1996).

Bob offers to help her. Vanessa sees him like a good person and she confides her secret about her sick grandmother. In the middle of their dialogue Bob reveals his deviant side and he attempts to kill Vanessa who declines to give in to his demands. Vanessa draws a gun that his boyfriend had given her earlier and shoots Bob severally rescuing her.

The shooting incidence lands Vanessa in prison while Bob is treated like a hero. Later, Vanessa escapes from prison and decides to go looking for her grandmother, but after entering the house, she learns that Bob, who is in the house brandishing a gun, had killed the granny. Confrontation ensues where Vanessa manages to strangle Bob and kill him. While Perrault’s narrative ends with the demise of Little Red Riding Hood, Matthew’s film depicts Vanessa as victorious.

Besides the difference in the plots, the two versions were established in different periods. The narrative came prior to the modern civilization, while the film came during the modern society. Therefore, there are significant differences with respect to the language and words used throughout the narrative.

Perrault chooses his words carefully and avoids using obscene words or scenes throughout the narrative. On the other hand, Matthew takes the initial narrative, twists it in a satirical manner to depict the modern society. He includes a lot of profane language in the film.

This helps to bring out the level of moral degradation existing in the modern society. Further, Matthew depicts Vanessa as a determined woman who is not willing to succumb to male domination. This portrays the level of women liberation.

For a narrative to be captivating and to draw the attention of the target audience, the narrators use different surface elements. The elements may include words or themes that the target audience likes most. The elements are packaged in a way that they keep the audience attentive throughout the narrative or film, therefore making sure that the film or narrative delivers the intended message (Preston, 2004).

The narrative by Perrault is intended for young children. It warns them against associating with strangers. To draw the attention of the children, Charles tries to come up with fascinating characters. He uses characters like the little girl, the grandmother, and the wolf.

Majority of the children love their grandmothers and thus they would never wish to see or hear anyone or anything harming them. Furthermore, narratives that include wild animals as the characters mesmerize many children. Hence, the inclusion of wolf in the narrative makes it attractive, therefore, attracting the target audience.

Besides using different characters that attract the target audience, the narrator also organizes the story in a thrilling manner. She depicts the girl as going through a forest where she encounters a wolf and dialogue ensues. This makes the audience attentive as it wish to know what happens in the process of dialogue.

The thrill of going through the forest in the company of a wolf makes the children wish to know what happens to the young girl (Wratislaw, 1889). The thrill acts one of the surface elements that make the narrative captivating to the young children. Throughout the narrative, Charles uses elements that are known to the target audience.

Besides, he does not make the plot complicated as a way to ensure that the audience is capable of following every event in the narrative. The narrator also includes the trick used by the wolf to dupe Little Red Riding Hood as one of the surface elements. To most children, the trick appears like a fascinating game.

In many times, children participate in games that help them outdo each other. Consequently, the trick applied by the wolf makes the children perceive it as a game. They are keen to see if the girl defeats the wolf without knowing that it is a trick to help the wolf eat the girl’s grandmother without the girl’s knowledge.

Matthew establishes his film in a modern setting. Unlike Charles who targets the children, Bright targets audiences from different groups. He does not focus on the children. Instead, he focuses on the youths as well as the older generation. Among the surface elements he includes to make the film relevant include, moral decadency, discrimination of poor by the rich as well as sexual illusions (Preston, 2004).

Moral decadency is one of the challenges facing the contemporary society. Nevertheless, many people do not like talking about it. Consequently, in an attempt to bring out this theme, Bright includes it as one of the surface elements in the film. Nevertheless, he does not depict it directly. Instead, he repackages it in a way that does not put off the target audience.

Bright directs the film with numerous twists and turns. He uses some scenes of aggression and irreverent dialogue as a way of bringing out the element of moral decadency within the society (McGurk, 2012). Many people have the allure of the serial killers. He depicts Bob as a serial killer with an aim of brining out this fascination and showing the public how it is inclined towards the negative norms at the expense of social ethics (Bright, 1996).

There is great disparity between the privileged and the underprivileged in the modern society. The privileged in the society look down upon the underprivileged and exploit them in different ways. Bright includes the element of this discrimination in the film as a way of portraying the level of hypocrisy in the modern society.

He portrays Vanessa’s parents as irresponsible (Bright, 1996). The mother engages in prostitution and the father is a drug addict. Moreover, he depicts Bob as a well-up man who takes advantage of the poor girls. He exploits them sexually and later kills and disposes them.

Sexuality is an issue that challenges the modern society. The problem faces both the young and the old. Bright takes the initial narrative and turns it upside down to fit the modern society. In spite of sticking to the main theme, he twists his plot to enlighten the target audience on the challenges of sexuality (Preston, 2004).

He uses a perverted tone to make the film relevant to the teenage audience who are the major victims of sexuality. Bright manages to blend these elements to make the film fascinating to all the target audiences. Eventually, he not only makes the film entertaining, but he also manages to put across his intended messages in a way that all the audiences understand.

Tales, narratives, and anecdotes act as good avenues of enlightening the public on different issues. The main reason for using them is that they are easy to understand and retain. Film directors identify different tales and twist them in a manner that suits them to convey certain messages (Preston, 2004). Similarly, Matthew Bright takes the Little Red Riding Hood tale and twists it to fit his film.

The main reason why he re-uses the tale is that he perceives it as the most appropriate in delivering his intended message. The plot and theme of the initial tale are somewhat congruent with the theme and plot of his film. Moreover, the characters and environment used for the tale do not change significantly in the film.

For instance, Bright uses Vanessa to represent Little Red Riding Hood while Bob represents the wolf. The traits of the new characters are almost similar to the trait of the initial characters in the tale. Therefore, the film director is able to articulate his themes using these characters without difficulties.

There was no better way of helping the public understand the level of moral decadency, gender discrimination, sexuality, and other challenges facing the society than through a film. Furthermore, to bring out these challenges, Matthew needed to package his message in a way that the target audience understands.

The Little Red Riding Hood tale offered a better platform of portraying these themes. As the tale was easy to understand and remember, Matthew saw it as the most appropriate to apply in communicating with the public. The tale facilitates in developing and directing the plot of the film.

Freeway is a revised version of Little Red Riding Hood. Bright manages to twist the initial tale to reflect a different theme in the modern society. In addition, he changes the various characters from the previous tale and uses them to play different roles in the film. In spite of changing the plot of the film relative to the original tale, Bright manages to convey his message in a way that all the target audiences understand.

In a bid to make the film relevant, Bright uses numerous surface elements. He includes the elements of moral decadency, sexuality, and disparity between the privileged and the underprivileged, as they are the main challenges facing the modern society. The main reason why the film director opts to re-use Little Red Riding Hood in his film is that the tale’s plot and characters fit well in the delivery of his intended message.

Reference List

Bright, M. (1996). Freeway [DVD]. US: Kushner-Locke Company.

Lang, A. (1891). The Blue Fairy Book. London, UK: Longmans.

McGurk, M. (2012). ‘Freeway’ an old but alluring ride. The Cincinnati Enquirer, p.32.

Preston, C. (2004). Little Red Riding Hood uncloaked: Sex, morality, and evolution of a fairy tale (Review). Marvels & Tales, 18(1), 132-136.

Wratislaw, A. (1889). Sixty Folk-Tales from Exclusively Slavonic Sources. London, UK: Elliot Stock.

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