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Wolf House, The

Entry updated 31 January 2022. Tagged: Film.

Chilean stop-motion animated film (2018; original title La Casa Lobo). Diluvio, Globo Rojo Films. Directed by Joaquín Cociña and Cristobal León. Written by Joaquín Cociña, Cristobal León and Alejandra Moffat. Voice cast comprises Amalia Kassai and Rainer Krause. 74 minutes. Colour.

In Chile, the "shepherd" (Krause) of an "isolated and pure" rural German community shares a restored film "rescued from the vaults of our colony" in the hope that it will "dispel the horrible rumours that have stained our reputation" ...

The film tells of a young woman, Maria (Kassai), who fled the colony after being punished for her lack of diligence. Believing herself pursued by a wolf, she enters a house in the woods: it is deserted save for two pigs whom she befriends. The three live in the house and Maria recounts that, whilst in the woods, she was rewarded by a tree with an apple that gave her the strength to "create beautiful things with my hands and spirit": and indeed, the pigs gradually transform into children; she says to them "Maria is love and care ... from today you are Pedro and Ana" (both voiced by Kassai). She does not allow them out of the house – though escaping the colony, she has not left it behind. An accident leaves the children badly burnt, so Maria treats them with honey – which the colony produces but does not share with the local Chileans – and Pedro and Ana become golden-haired and blue-eyed, like her. However, as the food runs out the pair turn on Maria and plan to eat her: fortunately the wolf (Krause) hears her prayer and rescues her, turning Pedro and Ana into trees. After reporting how Maria is now a good colony member, the wolf's final words are to the audience "and you, little pig, now that you have seen our dreams and your reflection in the water, do you want me to take care of you?"

We are ostensibly watching a recruitment/propaganda film from a cult descended from Nazi refugees who had fled Germany after World War Two. They are based on the Colonia Dignidad, a community with a similar origin and culture, that included Dr Mengele and undertook the Torture and murder of "desaparecidos" (the disappeared) for General Pinochet's regime in the 1970s (see Politics). In recent decades those responsible have been prosecuted or have fled the country, though the colony still exists in a less oppressive state, under a different name. As the colony in this work seems less reformed and the shepherd thanks Cristobal León and Joaquín Cociña (as well as the Chile Government) for their help in restoring the film, it may be considered an Alternate History.

The film itself (that is, the film within the film) has recurring fairy tale and fable motifs (see Fabulation); Snow White and The Three Little Pigs in particular – there is religious imagery too (see Religion). The animation is extraordinary, using stop motion, paper-mache and painting on surfaces: characters, rooms and objects constantly form, break up and re-form into other guises, as the camera moves between rooms – the overall effect being of disturbing, surrealistic Horror (see Absurdist SF). This is an outstanding work of Fantastika, with something of the New Weird about it. [SP]


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