Based on the semi autobiographical Chinese novel “Wolf Totem” by Lu Jiamin.

 “In 1967, a young Beijing student, Chen Zhen, is sent to live among the nomadic herdsmen of Inner Mongolia. Caught between the advance of civilization from the south and the nomads’ traditional enemies - the marauding wolves - to the north; humans and animals, residents and invaders alike, struggle to find their true place in the world.”

In the movie, Chen Zhen steals a wolf cub and raises it, against the wishes of the Mongolian nomad community he lives with. Over the course of the movie, as he bonds with the cub, he watches helplessly as it becomes more and more uncontrollable, its nature impossible to tame.

Elsewhere, however, the tension falters as “Wolf Totem” gets bogged down by its dull dramatization of the friction between human society and the animal kingdom. Lamenting the destruction of the Mongolians’ traditional way of life by Bao’s ignorant, hardline party policies and the Chinese settlers’ plundering of natural resources, Annaud brings no new perspective to environmental themes long expounded on in the West.


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