Wolf Summer

Movie review by
Renee Schonfeld, Common Sense Media
Wolf Summer Movie Poster Image
Perilous wildlife adventure; girl in danger, animal deaths.
  • NR
  • 2003
  • 83 minutes

Parents say

No reviews yetAdd your rating

Kids say

No reviews yetAdd your rating

We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Values promoted: courage, determination, a willingness to commit to a cause, and respect for nature. Looks at one of the charged conflicts between nature and man: predatory species kill other species to survive; human predators try to protect their flocks. Wolf Summer comes down hard on human nature here as the hunters are played as cruel, dismissive, and conscience-free for the most part.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Only a child, and a few scattered adults, act upon their better natures. The heroine is flawed: headstrong, disobedient, secretive, but those qualities are outweighed by her essential goodness, respect for her natural surroundings, and courage. Kim's mom is initially portrayed as a self-involved, man-hungry female who puts her offspring second to her own needs; she learns a lesson by the story's end. Villainous shepherd/hunter is portrayed as bloodthirsty, angry, and lacking compassion; his allies are meek and cowardly in his presence. 

Violence

Hunting with rifles. Defenseless animals killed by cruel hunters. Wolves kill sheep to survive. Bloody carcasses are seen. Animals feed off their prey. Scary, violent scenes involve bears and wolves stalking and fighting; men chasing and shooting at animals, including from a helicopter. Gunfire is frequent. The heroine is in great peril in many scenes: climbing scenes as she tries to ascend rocky cliffs, and from attacking creatures, both animal and human. Ugly wounds are seen close-up. 

Sex

Ditzy mom of heroine has a series of flirtations and intimate relationships with men, oblivious to the needs of her young daughter.

Language

A few coarse words: "ass," "s--t."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Hunters drink beer in several scenes.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Wolf Summer is a Norwegian adventure film, with English subtitles, about a young girl who bonds with a mother wolf and cub, then attempts to save them from ruthless hunters in a dense forest. Both the heroine's plight and the wolf's survival involve moments of great peril and graphic sequences that show animals killed, injured, and sometimes devoured. Animals are pursued; gunfire is frequent; predators attack species lower on the food chain; cruelty isn't ignored. Profanity includes "ass" and "s--t." A winner of several children's film festivals since its release in theaters in 2003, it's a thoughtful though familiar story about one positive, even miraculous, moment in our species' ever-complex relationship with creatures in the wild. Caution: Young kids and especially sensitive kids could be disturbed by both animal vs animal and man vs animal violence.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

What's the story?

Kim (Julia Boracco Braaten) is passionate about climbing, looking forward to a long summer's adventure at a climbing camp in WOLF SUMMER. Because her mom, Cecilie (Line Vernda), has left Kim overnight at home alone before the camp is to begin, she isn't informed when the camp is canceled. Now, completely on her own, Kim decides to take off and climb Norway's East Wall, a treacherous, steep mountainside that is a climbing challenge even for experts. Kim's journey is quickly aborted when she falls and is badly hurt. Taking shelter in a lean-to deep in the forest, Kim comes face to face with an injured wolf and her pup. It's a stand-off, until the wolf and girl are confronted together by a dangerous predator. A remarkable friendship begins when they all survive. Soon Kim becomes the only ally the wolves have when she discovers that the mom and pup are being pursued by team of relentless shepherd/hunters, one of them maniacal, who are aware that the wolf has killed their sheep. Kim's quest to save the wolves is complicated when her mom, finally aware of the girl's plan, arrives home and sets out to find her daughter.

Is it any good?

Wonderful footage of the wild animals, a compelling relationship between a girl and two wolves, and lots of suspense will keep kids old enough to handle the predatory elements of the story engaged. There's nothing understated about Wolf Summer; writer-director Peter Nurlund isn't into subtle shadings of character or situation. But, as adventures go, with so much rooting interest for a mama wolf, her adorable pup, and a heroic little girl, he's created a suspenseful, satisfying tale. It's easy to ignore the rather oblivious nature of the human parents when, after all, that courageous wolf is as good as a mom can be. The movie is a nice way to counter the traditional "wolf as enemy" tradition of so many children's tales. Along with that, a fine depiction of one segment of the food chain as well as the cruelties that can be associated with hunting animals that are simply trying to survive makes a strong case in favor of nature. Not for young or supersensitive kids.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about two types of violence in Wolf Summer. How did the purpose of the animal violence differ from the purpose of the human violence toward both animals and one another? Which predators behaved "badly?" Explain.

  • Think about the dilemma farmers and ranchers face when their livestock is killed by wild animals. Think about how the wild animals are affected by man's economic and personal needs. Which species is encroaching upon the other's habitat? After watching this movie, how would you describe the filmmakers' feelings about hunting?

  • In what ways was Kim brave? In what ways was she irresponsible? Which characters, if any, were changed by their experiences in this story?

Movie details

Character Strengths

Find more movies that help kids build character.

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

For kids who love animals

Our editors recommend

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality and learning potential.

Learn how we rate