Film: Never Cry Wolf (1983) Rated: PG Directed by: Carroll Ballard Written by: Farley Mowat (novel) Richard Kletter (screenplay) Curtis Hanson Sam Hamm Starring: Chales Martin Smith as Tyler Brian Dennehy as Rosie Zachary Ittimangnaq as Ootek Samson Jorah as Mike
By Bo from Last Blog on the Left (with special guest star Shelley Stillo)
Pre-screening memories: Never Cry Wolf was an important film for me when I was a child. An animal lover at an early age, I found myself seeking out those books and movies that focused specifically on dogs and their ilk. Sounder was my favorite book, and when Never Cry Wolf arrived on home video, I was quick to find it. What I wasn’t prepared for was the beauty of the film, the quiet and somber tone that was such a revelation to a young viewer.
At that time, there was nothing political or environmental in my thinking, having been raised on a steady diet of cartoons and Sesame Street. When I followed Tyler into the Alaskan Arctic, his revelations were my own. The natural world, until then a patch of woods behind my home, became a reality, a world that I could only visit, at the time, through film, but one that I learned to value. Additionally, the film inspired a love of the wolf that has remained to this day, admiring their familial and societal nature, the lonely howls, the eerily perceptive and intelligent eyes.
New memories: To this day, I am a dog lover first and foremost. Some of that, I think, is based on my first encounter with Caroll Ballard’s Never Cry Wolf and my fixation on the domestic canine’s wilder cousin. There is a playfulness coupled with instinct that I still find fascinating in the wolf. Looking back on the film, now, I have discovered the same amazement, the same awe that I first felt upon my initial viewing of the movie. It is a stunningly gorgeous film, one that begs for a Blu-ray transfer, and a somber story of man’s progress and the effects of that progress on the world around him.
There is a sadness in this film, too, made more melancholy by the exacerbated problems we see in the remaining wilderness. I am forever torn between the Carlin-esque hopelessness for our species and the nagging belief that maybe, under the right circumstances, we could live in concert with nature. This film poses no answers to this dilemma, but Never Cry Wolf beautifully illustrates the problems without lapsing into moralizing, and gives us a glimpse into a world of wonder that shrinks each day.
Download Natsukashi’s ‘Never Cry Wolf’ podcast here
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Our featured guest: Screenwriter Richard Kletter
Richard Kletter began his film career as a producer on independent films including Cannes Festival winner, Northern Lights. Since then, he has written, directed and/or produced more than 20 films and TV movies. His films have received Golden Globe nominations and won awards at various festivals.
Kletter teaches screenwriting at USC School of Cinematic Arts. His feature credits include Dangerous Indiscretion (with C. Thomas Howell and Malcolm McDowell), and The Black Stallion Returns. Some of his television credits include the series The Magnificent Seven, the Lifetime movie She’s Too Young (with Marcia Gay Harden) the acclaimed films Odd Girl Out and Queen Sized.
He’s currently working on a script about a young girl of privilege kidnapped by a biker gang. Hell, yeah! We are soooooo there, Richard! Thank you for joining us.