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Film Review

By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat


Never Cry Wolf
Directed by Carroll Ballard
Anchor Bay Entertainment 01/83 DVD/VHS Feature Film

For everyone who has a special place in his or her heart for animals, this is a must-see film. Never Cry Wolf is directed by Carroll Ballard and adapted from a 1963 book of the same title by Canadian author Farley Mowat.

Tyler (Charles Martin Smith), a young government biologist, arrives in the Arctic wilderness of Canada to study wolves who are believed to be preying upon the caribou herds. A local bush pilot, Rosey Little (Brian Dennehy), flies him up to an isolated and very frozen campsite.

The biologist, whose survival training, supplies and gear are woefully inadequate is rescued by Ootek (Zachary Ittimangnaq), an elderly Eskimo who lets Tyler wait out the winter in his hut. In the spring, he pitches his tent near a den inhabited by a white wolf, his mate, and three cubs. Tyler pays meticulous attention to their ways of communicating, methods of establishing territoriality, family life, and eating habits.

When Ootek returns with Mike (Samson Jorah), an English-speaking Eskimo who has been educated in America, they find Tyler conducting strange experiments in order to learn more about the wolves. Seeing that the biologist has developed a genuine bond with the wolves — he has even named them Angeline and George — Ootek tells him about the real relationship between the wolves and the caribou.

On an expedition to see just what the old Eskimo means, Tyler experiences a oneness with nature that is akin to a religious experience. Later, when Rosey Little reappears on the scene with a new plane and a rich client, Tyler's loyalties are tested. He realizes how deeply his values have changed since his arrival in the Arctic.

Never Cry Wolf is a magical and moving work of art. It is exotic in its wilderness settings, rich in its character portraits of both humans and canines, and stirring in its timely message about the interrelatedness of all living things.


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Reviews and database copyright 1970 2012
by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
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