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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.
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?
- In theaters: February 28, 2003
- On DVD or streaming: June 1, 2017
- Cast: Julia Boracco Braaten, Line Verndal, Jorgen Longhelle
- Director: Peter Norlund
- Studio: KidflixGlobal
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Adventures, Friendship, Wild Animals
- Character Strengths: Courage, Perseverance
- Run time: 83 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
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