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Set in 1896 in the Klondike region of Yukon, Canada follows the adventures of White Fange, a wolf dog, who aids a young Indian boy, Mitsah, as well as Jason Scott, a journalist who arrives in the small gold town of Dawson City which is run by a ruthless and greedy businessman named Beauty Smith and his gang of equally ruthless henchmen who control the town with fear to profit from the local prospectors, and it's up to Scott with the help of White Fang to clean up the town of corruption and greed. Written by
"Zanna Bianca" is not a Disney story. Parents need to use discretion for child viewing due to the film's violence. White Fang has two bloody fights, one with another dog and one with a bear. Also, some adults who are "good" characters lose their lives violently and unexpectedly.
The original novel by Jack London is a violent story, so that is by itself no negative with this movie. The violence has to do with both the animals and the human beings. Like almost all novels brought to the screen, it is very different from the book. What's retained here are the Alaskan setting, the wolfdog, and a few details. Otherwise it's a new story.
As such, the movie is rather uneven and uneasily unfolds. Its problem is mainly a failure to build all the characters in a way that makes the story coherent. Is Franco Nero the hero? He kind of moves in and out of the story. Significant time goes to his buddy who falls in love with Fernando Rey's daughter. John Steiner's greedy businessmen, prone to violence, comes through, loud and clear. Steiner always brings something special to his movies. So does Fernando Rey, playing a preacher who is afraid to walk the talk for most of the movie and who likes to drink. Rey does a remarkable job with his character, even with his voice being dubbed.
The German shepherd used for White Fang doesn't look very wolfish, but he certainly gains our sympathy in several key spots in the movie.
There's a little boy, an Indian, who first befriended White Fang, and there's a missionary nurse who add to the scenario. It's like all the pieces are here and the story is fairly engaging, but it slows down at times or else doesn't build up. The result is a movie that's distinctly average.
White Fang's fights were very fierce and bloody and yet somehow, despite the cruelty of Steiner, the story didn't make strong connections between the animal and human aspects. I think the director didn't make the most of the story elements that were present. I ended up thinking this is a more or less below par western or late spaghetti western, rather than being a cogent drama.
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