It’s still shocking to discover that movie sets weren’t the best places for people to work. That realization made people in the industry to make these sets better for people to work in. And the same people strive for those better conditions for animals. Andrew Simpson’s new film shows that process. Here he attains a kind approach towards telling animals – in this case, wolves in Asia – what to do. We also hear about this process through his voice over narration. I keep wondering how another narrator would have added flavor to the proceedings, but his voice comes across as kind, which fits with the film’s tone.
Simpson is more of an animal trainer than a documentary filmmaker, and that shows through some of the scenes here. I’m taking access to locations and equipment into account here. Credit is where credit’s due to him choosing honesty over aesthetics. And there’s a dynamism here. He doesn’t just show humans and wolves. This story also involves different animals that are or aren’t working in films. Nonetheless, animal pens aren’t the most cinematic places. That claustrophobia and rawness is still a problem even after he and the wolves leave their pens and go to film sets.
There are, thankfully, aesthetically pleasing moments here, like when Simpson takes in the breathless Mongolian landscapes. And those few visual moments would be empty without his perspective on the wolves that he works with. He highlights the dynamics between the wolves as well as the pack’s main players. He focus towards the pack’s two competing alphas, Cloudy and Parker. Like most humans who aren’t the most animal friendly, I am unable to tell animals of the same species of breed apart. But his observant narration make these wolves more memorable than most human documentary subjects I’ve seen.
- Release Date: 3/21/2019