Movie Review: ‘Wolf Totem’ on its enthralling wolves and scenery

P O S T E D   O N   F E B R U A R Y   7,  2 0 1 7

beautyplus_20151011125621_save B y:  M a j e l   B.  N o c o s

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Animals have their own ways of living since they were born. What will happen when someone tried to change those? Will it work? Or will it just bring an odd fortune?

The movie evinces the excitement of the protagonists at the first part of the story. Wonderful and refreshing scenery takes place especially when the Mongolian landscape appears. The mood and the set in the film bring the concept of the Cultural Revolution in China in the 1960s.

Chen Zhen, a Chinese man from Beijing, volunteered during the revolution to become a shepherd of the nomads. He chose Inner Mongolian though he doesn’t know anything about this place. As part of his tasks, he was assigned to teach the people there how to read and write Mandarin, which is obviously the effect of the revolution happening during that time.

The young man was then assigned to Bilig, the leader of the nomads. He became also the guide of Chen Zhen in the new land he is in. The first appearance of the wolf in the film, comes in a very fascinating shot. It is the first encounter of Chen Zhen with the wolf. And this became the beginning of his ignited interest with the wolves. Bilig, invited him to take a look of how wolves and gazelles compete. This is also commendable for its great shot that would make viewers feel the real tension between the animals fighting. And then to the aftermath which is on the frozen-lake, where many gazelles trapped in the ice to serve as food for cubs in the future. Nomads also take some gazelles but leave most of it for the wolves to protect their lambs. The film also has shown how nomads depend on animal’s meat for food. Mongolians turn the favor to the animals by allowing them to eat theirs when they died. They also show their beliefs on eternal lives by offering life of a cub.

WOLF TOTEM, 2015. ©Mars Distribution
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On Chen Zhen’s growing interest with wolves, he thought of having it as a subject to study. He searched for a wolf cub and bring it home. He knew he could be questioned by bringing a cub in their place, so he hid it from the people. There comes a night where the wolves attack their area and ate many of their horses. The cinematography in this scene deserves a standing ovation. This is the most terrifying scene in the film between the animals. The wolves, finding for a missing cub, gave way in revealing Chen Zhen’s secret place for the cub. He was then questioned, but was favored by the General for he thought of a plan, that this cub can be the allure for these wild wolves. The cub grew in Chen Zhen’s care. He made the little wolf as tamed as dogs. He tried to teach things and stuffs that will make this little wolf like a Mongolian wolf. Time passed  by, and Chen Zhen had already developed relationship with this wolf.

Chen Zhen emphasized the great value of a wolf in this world where all people tried to kill this animal from being known as wild and dangerous. His determination shown in the film signifies another side of a wild animal like wolf which can be loved. On the contrary, the film is lack of scenes where wolfs are greatly emphasized. The title “Wolf Totem” must be empowered by the film content. Since the story composed of animals and people, it must be balance. Also the romantic scene between Chen Zhen and AnkhnyamRagchaa, seems too late to be shown near the ending scenes. Also there is a unnecessary scene, which is the human sexual activity appeared in the movie.

When it comes to technicalities, the production team is really commendable. The creativity of the team can really be seen from the set, props, shots and of course the human and animal actors. All video shots where fascinating and astounding. There is also a perfect framing for every shots, especially when it comes to the animals.  This film limits the use of video editing. The cinematographers, made it possible that this kind of film can be made by just using raw camera shots and proves that this can be possible without depending in computer or  video software editing.

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In general, the film is visibly spectacular. From technicalities, to actors, up to the story content. The film and the makers leaded by Jean-Jacques Annaud as the director, did their jobs wisely. By creating this kind of movie, they do not just show a historic event in China but also how Chinese people can sacrifice and show their love and affection not just with one another but even in one of the most-frightened animal in the world.

Watch the Full Trailer of the film Wolf Totem 2015:

Rating: PG-13 (for disturbing images and violence involving animals, and for brief sexuality)
Runtime: 122 minutes
Studio: Sony Pictures

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