Red Riding Hood: The Anti-Nativity Story?


Lots of Red Riding Hood reviews, including mine, made obvious connections to the Twilight films, the first of which was directed by Red Riding Hood director Catherine Hardwicke. It takes a mind like Peter Chattaway’s to contemplate connections to Hardwicke’s The Nativity Story — and conclude that Red Riding Hood is in some ways “the anti-Nativity Story.”

In addition to the obvious fact that “The Nativity Story pandered to Christian audiences while Red Riding Hood casts a basically negative light on the Church,” Peter notes the following connections:

Hardwicke, a former production designer and art director, went out of her way to meticulously reconstruct first-century Palestinian life in The Nativity Story — to make it as “authentic” as possible — whereas Red Riding Hood feels very much like a movie that was shot indoors, in a studio, under artificial lights, even when people are supposed to be standing in broad daylight in the town square. I don’t say this as a criticism — I think Hardwicke must have been trying pretty deliberately to give this film a quasi-artificial storybook fairy-tale feel rather than anything approaching historical naturalism — but it’s still an interesting difference …

One less-obvious connection would be the fact that there is talk of an arranged marriage in Red Riding Hood, just as there was in The Nativity Story. I’m not sure if there are any others …

Oh, one other Nativity Story connection: Both films feature a scene in which people look at a model of the celestial spheres. (In The Nativity Story, it’s the Magi interpreting “the star”. In Red Riding Hood, it’s Gary Oldman explaining the difference between a “blood moon” and a regular full moon.)

Warning: Spoilers below.

It could also be pointed out that where Mary’s arranged marriage in The Nativity Story goes forward, Valerie’s arranged marriage does not. Also in both films a husband concludes that his wife (or wife-to-be) is guilty of infidelity after learning that she is a mother to a child that is not his, but of course in Red Riding Hood there really was adultery.

More significantly, where The Nativity Story (like Twilight) features a virile, attractive father figure who wants to protect his child, in Red Riding Hood the father is a somewhat emasculated, cuckolded figure who drinks too much and ultimately turns out to be the antithesis of a protective father figure in other ways.

Anything else? In The Nativity Story an angel that no one else can see or hear brings the Virgin Mary a message of God’s plan for her life; in Red Riding Hood the werewolf whom no one else can understand brings Valerie a message regarding its own plans for her.

That’s all I can think of at the moment.

Fairy Tales



Red Riding Hood (2011)

Red Riding Hood is a movie of a sort that I would very much like to see if anyone could make it, which is another way of saying that it is not that sort of movie at all. A real Hollywood fairy tale is the rarest thing in the world. Hollywood is more comfortable with myth and legend. Partly, I think, it’s a matter of scale: Mythology provides the sort of sweeping, epic scope that lends itself to big-screen Hollywood feature filmmaking. Fairy tales are smaller and more intimate, and require a lighter touch.