‘The Human Wolf’ (The Wolf Man) was directed in 1941 by George Waggner.
There is a phrase by Thomas Hobbes in his work Leviathan what does it say: “The man is the wolf of the man”, trying to show that within the human being beats a kind of animality that seeks the destruction of its fellow human beings. Lycanthropes or werewolves are known in medieval legends and their myth originates from ancient times, especially in Greece and Rome.
The Greeks consider Lycaòn like the first werewolf; is transformed into that being by a punishment imposed by Zeus for his evil deeds, hence the name of lycanthrope. It has also had a presence in literature: in the work of Bram Stoker, Dracula, it is mentioned when the sinister count turns into this type of animal to flee from his enemies.
In the cinema, this being was one of the late creations of the Universal Studios, having produced horror tapes that had Dracula already Frankenstein as protagonists.
Looking for actors to bring this new monster to life, the studio decided to cast Lon chaney jr., son of the horror star of the silent film era. The script was written by the German Curt Siodmak, who, giving it a complete twist, used parts of ancient folklore, psychological elements and autobiographical parts to create The human wolf (The Wolf Man) in 1941, directed by George Waggner.
This monstrous being is the one that has been least represented in the cinema, so this film includes aspects that will be the basis of future productions. One element of this is the presence of Chaney, who gives life to Larry Talbot, son of an aristocrat, victim of the curse after being bitten by a werewolf. Chaney would be absorbed by the personage, reason why it would get to interpret it five times.
Another element that makes the tape a classic is the reflection on the human condition that Siodmak manages to achieve, by turning Talbot, a simple man, into a beast. The scriptwriter himself would say that the character was a metaphor about his condition as a wandering Jew and also about some Germans of the time, common men who would embrace Nazism and become murderers. In an interview about the origin of the film, Siodmak would say that the brand that Talbot owns and turns him into a cursed being is a reflection of the Star of David that the Nazis put on the Jews and that it was the symbol of their future destruction.
But the true prop of this gem is the makeup boss, Jack pierce. He is he responsible for having achieved a realistic makeup, which gives Chaney’s face an air of hideous animality. Pierce’s work involved six-hour sessions to make it and three to remove it, and consisted of a special poultice coated with rubber and singed hair with tweezers. The feet and hands were rubber gloves covered with hair, a true masterpiece in a time when computerized special effects did not exist.
On 2010, a more modern version of the werewolf man made his way to the movies starring Benicio, the bull, Anthony Hopkins and Emily blunt.
Today, 80 years later, the myth is still alive, because in the end a good monster never dies.