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Sunday, May 13, 2012

Never Cry Wolf (1983)

Director: Carroll Ballard
Cast: Charles Martin Smith

Plot: Biologist Tyler (Smith) has his task cut out—his organization has him sent to the Arctic wilderness for researching the reason of decline in Caribou’s population. Most likely, Canis Lupus (wolf) is the culprit.    

Never Cry Wolf
Never Cry Wolf is pure bliss. Set in the majestic Arctic, it literally gives you the feel of walking in the air. Essence of uncorrupted nature has been captured onscreen like never before. There are hardly any artificial sounds used in the film and background score used is very minimal. The majestic silence of Arctic is broken only by the chirping of crickets and howling of either wind or Canis Lupus (Arkmanon in Inuit).

When Tyler first lands in Arctic, the sheer vastness scares him a bit. Loneliness is in abundance. But once Tyler starts gelling with the nature, the solitude turns to peace and he doesn’t want anyone or anything to shake up his serenity.   

There are few other interesting characters in the movie:
  • The curious white wolf George who lets Tyler into his territory. The initial encounters of the two are very engaging and set the right tone for entire film.  
  •  An aged Inuit Ootek who teaches Tyler the ways of the wild and how to imbibe its soul within oneself (something which is later shown in more detail in 2003 film "Snow Walker").
  • Rosie and Mike: both are consumed by greed and sell out the nature. Though Mike’s actions are somewhat justifiable as he has responsibilities.  
The screenplay compliments the plot so well. The opening shot with an excited Tyler’s narrative of his journeying toward his childhood dream, and then, the sudden change in tone after the magnitude of situation sinks into him as he ponders over what he’s is actually  attempting—simply top notch. Apart from Tyler’s encounter with the wolf there are some other scenes that give you a good laugh, especially the ones involving Arctic’s omnipresent rodents. No real spoilers ahead but the expressions on Tyler and Mice in a lunch scene are unbeatable!  

Never Cry Wolf was one of the first Touchstone pictures and played a huge part in establishing the successful production house we see today. Beautifully narrated, breathtaking, attracting and holding interest as if by a spell; this film is based on Farley Mowat's autobiographical, albeit controversial, best-selling book about his life among Arctic wolves.

The film concludes with an old Inuit song:

"I think over again my small adventures, my fears.
Those small ones that seemed so big.
For all the vital things I had to get and to reach.
And yet there is only one great thing, the only thing:
To live to see the great day that dawns,
and the light that fills the world."

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