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Review: Wolf Child – Entrelobos (2010)

Directed by: Gerardo Olivares | 110 minutes | drama | Actors: Juan José Ballesta, Sancho Gracia, Manuel Camacho, Carlos Bardem, Àlex Brendemühl, Eduardo Gómez, Agustín Rodríguez López, Luisa Martín, Vicente Romero, Dafne Fernández, José Chaves, Francisco Conde, José Manuel Soto, Félix Sancho, Antonio Dechent,

There are plenty of stories of people (children) growing up among the wild animals, but most of them are made up. Yet there are indeed known examples of people who lived apart from their peers for years. Once discovered and reintroduced into “civilization”, they often have difficulty adjusting. Often they are unable to share their experiences because they cannot speak or express their feelings in words. If someone is found who can give a coherent story, then that is very special. Spaniard Marcos Rodriguez Pantoja lived among wolves from the age of seven to the age of nineteen. As a little boy he was sold by his poverty-stricken father to a farmer, who brought him deep into the mountainous region of Sierra Morena to an old goatherd whom he had to help. After the old man died, Marcos turned out to be on his own. Returning home, he was reluctant, as his stepmother systematically abused him. Then just stay behind in the mountains. Thanks to the tips the old goatherd had given him, he knew how to keep himself alive. He developed a special bond with the animals around them. Especially with a wolf family, which more or less included him in their pack. Marcos would live in the wilderness for twelve years.

The remarkable life story of Rodriquez Pantoja was filmed in 2010 under the title “Entrelobos” – internationally the is known as “Among Wolves”; in the Netherlands the story is known under the title “Wolvenkind”. The director is Gerardo Olivares; the role of the young Marcos is played by Manuel Angel Camacho. We see how, around 1954, he was sold by his parents ( and Luisa Martín) to landowner Don Honesto (José Manuel Soto). His wicked servant Ceferino (Carlos Bardem) drags the boy into the mountains, where he is somewhat reluctantly taken by the hand by hermit Atanasio (Sancho Garcia). Just when the two seem to have developed a bond, Atanasio falls ill and dies. Marcos is left alone, with a ferret as the only company. Hungry and desperate, he looks for ways to feed himself. That turns out not to be so easy. But when a wolf mother brings him a piece of meat, there is hope for the boy.

It is that you know that a true story underlies this film, because every now and then there is mockery with the laws of credibility. Olivares will no doubt have allowed himself some poetic liberties here and there, and that is his right. It gives the a subtle supernatural ‘touch’, especially where humans and animals come closer together. The narration is otherwise sober and simple; this is a film that – besides its incredible story, of course – mainly relies on the visual. The images of nature that Olivares presents us are truly breathtaking. The underlying message of films like this is often “be careful with nature,” and this film is really no different. But the makers’ core ideals are in any case subtly pushed through. As “subtle” actually applies to “Wolf Child” in all respects. The film is modest, serene and straightforward, made with a lot of love for nature and beautiful in all its tranquil simplicity.

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