Youthful Melancholy: The Loss of Innocence in Another Country and The Company of Wolves
Youth in culture is a highly suggestive symbol. The in-between nature of the youthful state – having more power than the child, but not fixed as an adult – has symbolized rich possibilities beyond the conventional. In the midst of the seemingly light-hearted and fun loving glossy 1980s, specific examples in popular culture have featured the youth as a site of ambiguous energy, uncertain loyalty and overall unreliable members of the community. Their experiences, as represented in the media, may give us a glimpse of the hidden anxiety and the buried mournfulness packaged in youth experiences.
The proposed article will discuss two British film adaptations, of a stage play and a short story respectively, to examine how the media have depicted the melancholies of the era through the youth’s experiences. Another Country (1984), directed by Marek Kanievska, was based on the play by Julian Mitchell, alluding to the early life of spy and double agent Guy Burgess, in the main character Guy Bennett. The film starts with the aged Bennett being interviewed and recalling his young days at the elite boarding school. As the students are all elites in the social hierarchy, the school masters have turned a blind eye to the many deviant behaviours among the youths. Guy Bennett, staying true to his homosexual orientation, learns his lesson when trying to protect his illicit love. The uncomfortable sense of oppression and repression follows through Bennett’s remembrance, and mourns for the loss of the self that started so many years before. Neil Jordan’s The Company of Wolves (1984) is based on the short story written by Angela Carter, and adapted into a gothic-style horror fantasy. The fearless Rosaleen, the teenage version of Little Red Riding Hood, transgresses the human world into the bestial world, to understand desire and its potential power of overturning the order of the world. Packaged as a horror story, the film suggests the buried underside of orderly and rational society, and its special bond with the youth, who is at the crossroads between childhood and adulthood.
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