True Wolf Dir. Rob Whitehair

[Tree & Sky Media Arts; 2012]

Styles: documentary
Others: wolves

An oddly paced, over-scored, slapdash, meandering film about a couple of humans and their pet wolf (and dog), True Wolf aims to get people thinking about “how wolves fit into their lives,” or some-such. Pat, a wildlife biologist, and her husband Bruce took their “ambassador wolf,” Koani, around to schools, churches, and wherever else people were willing to meet a wolf, trying to demonstrate that wolves are animals, not demons hell-bent on destroying everything and everyone we cherish.

From what I understand, Pat and Bruce originally agreed to raise Koani so that somebody could shoot a scene of her in a classroom. A wildlife biologist, of all people, condemned a wild wolf (taken from where, by the way?) to a life apart from all other wolves, a life of being stared at by schoolchildren and irate ranchers (as well as a life of several hours of walks on a leash per day). At least in the film, Bruce seems much more deeply affected by the horror of this injustice than does Pat. Honestly, that’s really the only part of the film that struck me, other than the testimony of the woman who stood up in a room full of vicious wolf-haters as a child and told them all to give her a chance to make up her own mind. If we’re collectively really still at the point of making up our minds about whether wolves have a right to exist in the world, I’ll be just about ready to join the Church of Euthanasia. Oh, the other part that struck me is when Bruce and Pat euthanize Koani after she gets a tumor on her leg because they don’t want to compromise her “quality of life.” Right, as if that wasn’t compromised when you raised her in your home. What’s up with people killing their companion animals as soon as they start down the path of the infirm? How would your grandmother feel if you were ready to give her a lethal dose of morphine as soon as she broke her hip?

Seriously, we should all finally take ultimate responsibility and end it. This film is coming out at a time when wolves have been pulled off the Endangered Species List and are approved for hunting in Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana. “Get out yer helicopters and high-powered rifles, yer steel traps and yer hunks of raw meat with razor blades in ‘em — it’s time to destroy the only other sophisticated social predators on the continent all over again, ‘cept this time around we’ll do it organized-like, so as we can continue to destroy ‘em for all time!”

“Shut up, you bunny-hugging, bi-coastal, liberal pansy! If we don’t hunt wolves they’ll keep reproducing until we have to gun ‘em down from helicopters to keep ‘em from eating our livestock and our pets. Wolves are vicious. They’re Satan’s creatures, whose mothers teach ‘em to revel in torturing helpless prey. We’re better off without ‘em!”

“Sorry, did you say ‘revel in torturing helpless prey’? That’s awfully precise but not quite accurate, if you catch my drift. Maybe if you weren’t so obsessed with holding on to your sacred way of life, which is organized around turning living beings into machines so that you can extract value from them — while sending our planet’s ecological health to hell, by the way — maybe then you’d see that if we leave wolves alone their populations will plateau naturally as they find their niche.”

“Don’t talk to me about ‘way of life,’ you latte-swilling, Prius-driving, patchouli-smoking piece of shit!”

“You don’t smoke patchouli, you ignorant, bois —”

“Oh for Chrissakes, get your —”

[and so forth]

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