Saturday, January 2, 2016

Lone Wolf

Vuk samotnjak; drama, Croatia / Slovenia, 1972; D: Obrad Gluščević, S: Slavko Štimac, Željko Mataija, Ivan Štimac

A village in Lika during winter, shortly after the end of World War II. Ranko is a little boy who works as a shepherd with his friends, but they are plagued by the wolves that kill their sheep. There are also rumors of a wild German Shepherd, "Hund", a remnant of WWII, who also kills the animals. While in forest, Ranko finds that particular dog, with a name tag which says "Hund", and thus calls it like that. He releases him from the trap, but the villagers and his father want to shoot the wild dog. While protecting Hund, Ranko is wounded by a gun shot. Hund appears in his house to help him recover, and thus the villagers decide to let him live.

A Yugoslav version of "Lassie", "Lone Wolf" is a simplistic, yet proportionally well made children's film about a misunderstood friendship between a boy and a wild dog. The story seems slightly dated by today's standards - for instance, the tendency of the villagers to resolve everything by force, such as their inexplicable urge to shoot the stray dog even though it is obviously friendly to the boy, seems contrived - and the narrative is not richly developed, yet for a good-spirited film with a noble message about tolerance, it still has charm and emotion, while it is further strengthened by a few neat camera angles and lovely snow landscapes of the mountains. A great performance was delivered by the title dog, since the animal was surprisingly cooperative in many complicated situations, especially in the scene where it lies still and wait for Ranko to save his paw from the trap.


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