Film Review: A Wicked Tale (2005) ‒ Not your usual innocent fairytales
In 2005, a mature rendition of the timeless fairytale of Red Riding Hood was manifested. Of course, in the defense of literature, the original form of fairytales was never suitable for children, as expounded in an earlier article.
Director Tzang Merwyn Tong took the concept of le petit chaperon rouge and cast it in a different light altogether. The off-center production was truly something else.
To pique the interest of the would-be audience, imagine a wretchedly seductive realm where the titular protagonist is a delicate flower petal falling into the gush of the rapids.
It is exactly what it is, an artistic demonstration of beautiful destruction in the charge of temptation.
Red Riding Hood Puppet, picture taken from A Wicked Tales.
The experimental piece is spiced up with haunting lyrical scores and cryptic puppetry to complete the presentation of a sordid tale, which would have made the originator of the fable choke with pride.
The raison d’être of the cinematography is indeed, for a wicked tale.
Having premiered at the 34th Rotterdam International Film Festival and achieved much recognition, which include clinching a Gold Remi Award at the 2005 WorldFest in Houston,
The movie went on to reach cult status in Canada and Germany through its gripping albeit unorthodox storytelling style.
Director of A Wicked Tale, Tzang Merwyn Tong (Third from Left).
Additionally, Tzang set the record as the youngest Singaporean film director to release a commercial film on the DVD/VCD format.
Although the recurring theme of the innocent caped child has been grotesquely retold numerous times through sources such as Mcfarlane Toys (in the twisted fairytales collection, Red Riding Hood is designed as a sultry huntress who flaunts the trophy of a disemboweled wolf) and in the more recent Amanda Seyfried film (action lupine romance) Red Riding Hood (2011).
A Wicked Tale that musters the nerves to have a steady shot at the sublime subject of sexuality.
The provocative psychological-thriller film tails main character Beth (Little Red Riding Hood) and how she comes to term with her sexuality when she is caressed by a sinful primordial entity (the wolf). The stage is set for a moralistic tug-of-war.
Tzang produced the piece with his underground outfit, INRI Studio, which specialises in films that excite the senses and challenge conventional ideas. The director sought to explore the topic of sexual awakening and unrestricted female sexuality through an alternate reality.
A Wicked Tale is a short film set in a dreamlike realm underpinned by the villainous voice-over of the antagonist, who plots to stalk and ravage Beth, a gullible adolescent. The contrast of the characters provides the perfect set-up for a cunning trap.
The use of props and abstract motifs through the course of the film conveys a tale, quite like flipping through the pages of a book overflowing with stimulating pictures and being narrated by a storyteller.
For some audiences, the experience may feel like beholding the decomposition of a fresh fruit into a putrid mass. We then recognise this as the hidden beauty of nature; the charm of corruption.
The process is methodical, a showcase of something outwardly pleasing that progressively ‘’decays’’ into a mockery of its former brilliance. Thus, replicating the classic tale of naivety, corruption, deceit and eventual suffering.
Creating a supernatural environment came with its own fair share of hurdles. To achieve the ideal visual concepts and overall mood, Tzang resorted to editing the colour of each frame within the 45-minute film all by himself.
In one interview, Tzang shared that he would not change the content of the film even if he had been provided with a sizeable budget.
To the maverick director, it was important that the content stayed true to his recipe.
The movie was meant to be an art project and being so, surpassed expectations, if the film had been extended, the rhythm would have been broken and made it predictable for audiences, which was something to be given a wide berth to.
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Author: Laurenzo Jude