Wolf Totem is a beautifully, poignant movie
Being a die-hard animal lover, I was not keen to see this movie, and although many scenes left me sobbing, it is never-the-less a very beautiful Chinese drama.
The movie is based on the novel of the same name, written by Lu Jiamin, and directed by Jean-Jaques Annaud.
Set in 1969, Chinese student, Chen Zhen, is sent to Inner Mongolia to teach the shepherds. He, however, learns about the special relationship the shepherds share with the wolves, a bond that is being threatened by a government decree that the wolves must be eliminated.
Chen Zhen is appalled by the way baby wolf cubs are stolen from their lairs and thrown into the air to die as they come crashing down. He manages to capture one of the babies and raises him in captivity, secretly.
From the frozen plains to the spectacular beauty of the Chinese summer landscapes, this movie is violent, yet touching. It provides a stark insight into the Nomadic peasant lifestyle and the customs and beliefs of these simple, but wise people.
Andrew Simpson, a Canadian animal trainer, worked with 12 wolf pups, over several years and taught them not to fear the crew and the cameras. The movie took over a year to shoot in Inner Mongolia, at enormous cost.
Lovers of arty foreign language films will enjoy the beauty and simplicity of this movie, but remember to take a box of tissues along with you!
The English sub-titles make the dialogue easy to follow.
The movie was released on Friday, 13 November on Imax screens and will be on general circuit from Friday, 20 November.
The film has been classified 13V and has a 2 hour running time.