Truth and Lore Balanced in 'Wolfman'
by Brittany Adams
Universal Pictures completely re-vamped their vision of the classic werewolf legend in “The Wolfman,” which opens in theaters this Friday.
Instead of modernizing the legend á la “Teen Wolf” (1985), the studio has gone back to basics. “The Wolfman: is again set in Victorian England at the Talbot Estate, with the tragic Talbot family at the center, After both his mother and brother’s deaths, Lawrence Talbot (Benicio del Toro) is bitten by a werewolf, and cursed to cope with being both a good-natured man and a bloodthirsty beast. His father (Anthony Hopkins) and brother’s fiancée (Emily Blunt) try to help him as Inspector Aberline (Hugo Weaving) closes in on the truth about Lawrence.
The filmmakers fabricated the death of Lawrence’s brother and his subsequent life as a cursed man, along with some dramatic elements, but the story does draw from some truth. Like its predecessor, the remake grounds itself in an abudance of historical facts and lore. Lady Talbot was, in fact, found beaten to death in 1865, and other victims– most of whom worked at the estate– were found brutally murdered over the next three years. Additionally, in that time period, legends of werewolves ran rampant, such as the story of the Beast of Gévaudan, which was said to have terrorized the French countryside at the end of the 18th century. None of the murders were ever explained nor were any werewolf-like creatures ever caught.
Universal Studios is responsible for a string of monster movies, starting with the original “Wearwolf” in 1941, and with the new remake is an attempt to get back to the original tradition of such movies. “The Wolfman” is reminiscent of Francis Ford Coppola’s “Bram Stroker’s Dracula” (1992). Instead of the overdone, bat-like images of vampires, Coppola strove to go back to the book and historical lore. In a similar manner, Joe Johnston, the director of “The Wolfman,” uses the historical facts, ancient lore and a hint of fiction to create the new take of the werewolf legend. The new film promises to hearken back to what made monster movies great in the first place– their formation from existing unexplained events and human fears.