Monday, May 9, 2016

Wolf Totem 2015

    This film is based on a semi-autobiographical novel published in 2004 and written by Beijing professor Lu Jiamin under the pseudonym Jiang Rong.  The setting of this film is China of 1967.  Mao Aedong has launched the Cultural Revolution and millions of urban Chinese students are sent from Beijing into the countryside to educate the rural people.  Chen Zhen is sent to live among the nomadic herdsmen of Inner Mongolia.  The advance of civilization is catching up to the nomads from the south.  Their traditional enemies the wolves are pushing toward them from the north.  The nomads can relate to the struggle of the wolves to sustain themselves.  They share food resources in order to keep the wolves from their attacking their sheep and horses.  The wolves fascinate Chen Zhen and he wants to raise a cub despite the objections of the people surrounding him.
      Both the nomads and the wolves have a difficult life of struggling for shelter, taking care of the themselves and obtaining basic necessities.  This film required a lot of background preparation and it took seven years to complete.  The scenery is very beautiful but there are difficult scenes with the animals.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

121 min, Adventure directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud with Shofeng Feng, Shawn Dou, Ankhnyam Ragchaa, Yin Ahusheng, Ba Sen Zha Bu, Baoyingexige, Tumenbayaer, Xilindule, Hai-Long Bao.

Note:  Imdb 6.6 out of 10, 71% critic 51% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 3.8* out of 5* with 34 reviews, Washington Post 2 ½*.
Special Note:  Filmed in Inner Mongolia, China.  Shaofeng Feng had a fall from his horse on the first day of filming.  He also was bitten or scratched by the wolves.  Producer Alan Wang and the film crew spent three years raising three generations of 35 Mongolian wolves.  Sixteen of the wolves and a dog stunt-double moved to Canada to live with their trainer Andrew Simpson after filming concluded.  Jean-Jacques Annaud also made Seven Years in Tibet of 1997.

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