Monday, January 26, 2015

Never Cry Wolf

Never Cry Wolf has stayed with THC since he first saw it (along with Mrs THC) in 1983.  On the surface, the film is deceptively simple. A Canadian wildlife biologist (superbly played by Charles Martin Smith who up till that time had mostly played goofy jerks in movies like American Graffiti) goes off to the Arctic to observe the habits of wolves who are thought to be decimating elk and caribou herds. The biologist's adventures are recounted. There are only four significant speaking parts - the biologist, a bush pilot (Brian Dennehy) and two Inuits. There's a lot more silence than dialogue. And it's a Disney movie.  THC didn't think he'd like it.  He was mistaken.

It's not your usual anthropomorphizing wildlife movie where everything works out happily in the end. Rather it's a meditation on the effects of humans interacting with wild animals and not just by the biologist and pilot, the two Inuits also play complex roles.  The cinematography is mesmerizing and the atmospheric score, by Mark Isham, is a character onto itself.  If you watch it at home via netflix or something else it is best seen on the largest screen you have and without interruption so you can immerse yourself in the mood it creates. This is the Siskel & Ebert review from 1983 (the quality of the video is poor but the commentary captures the essence of the film - notice that Ebert upgrades the Smith character to "goofy eccentric" from his usual goofy jerks.):
The opening credits with that wonderful score playing over it.
The Inuits:
Additional clips from the movie:
The movie is based on a controversial book of the same name by the controversial Canadian wildlife biologist Farley Mowat.  THC has not read Never Cry Wolf, although he did read And No Bird Sang, about his experiences in the Canadian army during WWII and eventual breakdown during the horrible, grinding campaign on the Italian peninsula. THC suggests you ignore the controversy over the book and just enjoy the film.

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