Thoughts on animal transformations in literature/Film

October 6, 2017

So I was watching back some of the more famous animal transformations in media. We have the Fly (1986), American werewolf in London (1981),the much more recent Raw (2016) and I read  The Metamorphosis by Kafka(1915). First I just want to clarify that I consider Raw to very much be an animal transformation film. It follows the story of a young girl starting her first year at university studying a veterinarian  coarse. She has been strictly vegetarian her whole life, but once she is forced to eat a rabbit liver as part of her initiation into uni, she begins to develop an intense craving for flesh, which develops into a craving for human flesh. Although unlike the others there is not literal transformation into an animal, we see a more implied one, with strong animal imagery though out there is a clear link. As her cravings get worse there are scenes that work similarity to the transformation scenes in American werewolf in London. In one scene at an underground student rave, we see the animal come out, as her drinking and cravings send her into a sort of frenzy, she exhibits all of her primal animal urges. Horny to begin with then aggressive and intensely hungry, so hungry she resorts to breaking into a morgue and attempting to eat a corpse, through out she can not speak or communicate with the other humans. Her actions and movements are seemingly non human, the next morning she wakes up confused not remembering anything. In much the same way a werewolf would after the night of a full moon. 

 Raw. Full animal mode!^^^

 

From my research I have found that writers often use this transformations as metaphors to further explain parts of the human conditions. I've found that they normally represent one of two things, adolescence/inner desires or illness/ageing. Both of these processes involve a changing of the body/mind, hence the transformative change in the stories. In the case where the film represents adolescence/the awakening of new desires it's normally a personal journey for the character, one where they must try to adept to their rapidly changing bodies and hormones in order to fit in to society as a normal human, there is often an emphasis on trying to appear normal and adjust. I also noticed that there is always this feeling of being not in control of ones self, there often seems to be a risk of losing who they are. I believe this is because they are going through a metamorphosis from a child to an adult. Both Raw and american werewolf in London are examples of this. 

 American werewolf in London 

 

On the other hand we have the darker reading of the animal transformation. As a metaphor of illness mental or physical or aging. Normally in these stories the character is more themselves. They think as a human almost throughout. Still being human on the inside, but as their bodies change into "other" it is unsettling for all those around them. People are pained by having to interact with the severely unwell or elderly as it reminds them of the fragility of their own lives. It often turns into this want to ignore and pretend they don't exist. This can be seen most significantly in The metamorphosis, as we see Gergors parents lock him away and feed him occasionally but for the most part ignore him as it upsets them to be around him. Both in characters in The Metamorphosis and the Fly, want to die in the end as a result of being in physical pain due to their condition, not wanting to be a burden and simply not being accepted in society.

 

This leads me to think what could mine represent? As it is I can not relate to the illness reading as much. Is there a chance that I could possibly weave aspects of my personal experience with adolescence into to work? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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