Never Cry Wolf

Never Cry Wolf (1983)
Anchor Bay Entertainment
Cast: Charles Martin Smith and Brian Dennehy

Based on Canadian naturalist Farley Mowat’s autobiography, ’Never Cry Wolf’ tells the tale of a young scientist sent alone into the wilds of Northern Canada to uncover proof that wolves are responsible for the rapid decline in the local caribou population.

Due to the kindness of the local Inuit, Mowat is able to survive his first night in the wilds and soon settles in next to a wolf family to begin his study. As his research continues, Mowat begins to grow closer to the wolf family he’s studying and attempts to follow their lead in selecting food, shelter, and, at times, even clothing (or lack thereof). Needless to say, he eventually comes to the conclusion that the government’s preconceived notions are, in fact, wrong.

Unfolding very much like a documentary, the film is full of sweeping vistas of the sub-Arctic terrain and close-ups of the wolf family that tolerates Mowat’s presence. The performances are very good but take a back seat to the story itself, which slowly evolves into a very sad tale indeed.

While not anamorphically enhanced, the 1.85:1 widescreen image is, on the whole, very good. The video does tend to go a bit soft in places, but the transfer is fairly clean with only the occasional nick or blemish. Surprisingly, the video handles the vast expanse of whiteness that comes from filming in a snowbound setting very well and black levels are also very accurate. For a movie going on 20 years old, the video is quite impressive.

The audio is presented in an English Dolby Digital 2.0 surround mix. While never reaching very high, or dipping very low, the audio is well balanced. Dialogue is very clear and anchored to the center speaker while the rest of the front speakers remain fairly active with the ambient effects one would expect from a nature film and the sweeping score by composer Mark Isham. The surrounds are used infrequently.

Unfortunately for such a fine film, there are no extras whatsoever on the DVD. But the movie itself is very enjoyable and is suitable for all but the youngest children. Just be prepared to discuss some of the issues it raises and be forewarned that the movie is sad at times and contains a little backside nudity. The movie was released theatrically by Disney and was a departure for them in both its subject matter and darker tone. Anchor Bay has done a fine job bringing this film to DVD.