Wolf Totem: A Nature Lover’s Film

A movie review written by Demi Aileen Romero; BABRC 4-2

Photo credit: http://upload.icrosschina.com/

With its beautiful panoramic shots and well-trained animals for actors, “Wolf Totem” invites in animal and nature lovers with its incredible charm. The movie is based on a semi-autobiographical novel by a Beijing professor named Lu Jiamin, under the pseudonym Jiang Rong. In late-1960s Cultural Revolution, he became a herder-hunter in Inner Mongolia. He was raised in Beijing, but during that time, Chinese youths were dispatched to hinterlands for re-education. The novel became a controversy in China, being only second to Mao’s little red book, according to The New York Times’ review in 2008.

The movie was directed by French director Jean-Jacques Annaud, who has worked in films with animals as actors before, with “The Bear” and “Seven Years in Tibet”. The film centers around Jiang Rong as Chen Zhen that traveled from Beijing to Inner Mongolia when he became interested with the wolves there. He adopts a cub and raises it for himself, despite village leader Genghis Khan telling him no. Outside this story, the film lightly focuses on the destruction of lands due to other settler’s greed.

main-wolf-totemPhoto credit: https://cdn.pastemagazine.com/

The two focuses of the film seem to not be correlated with one another, and the human actors were not as lovable as the animal ones. Building character development is reportedly not Annaud’s forte so it could be the reason why developments in the film was detached and unfelt by the viewers. It may also be due to the fact that several parts of the book is omitted in the film due to its sensitivity. This may also explain why there are some shots seem to be unnecessary to the development, and takes away from the focus of the film. Still, it featuring actual animals and beautiful sceneries, gives a refreshing feel and different approach.

In the end, Wolf Totem is not another sentimental wolf movie, but it depicts modernization and awareness to environmental policies; respect to the, otherwise vanishing, way of life.

Watch the trailer of the film with the link below:


Rating: PG-13
Genre: Action & Adventure
Directed By:Jean-Jacques Annaud
Written By: Alain Godard, Jean-Jacques Annaud, Lu Wei, John Collee
Runtime: 122 minutes
Studio: Sony Pictures


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