Never Cry Wolf (1983)

PG  |   |  Adventure, Drama  |  27 January 1984 (USA)
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A government researcher, sent to research the "menace" of wolves in the north, learns about the true beneficial and positive nature of the species.



(based on the book by), (screenplay), 6 more credits »
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 4 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »



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Complete credited cast:
Farley Mowat / Tyler
Zachary Ittimangnaq ...
Samson Jorah ...
Hugh Webster ...
Martha Ittimangnaq ...
Tom Dahlgren ...
Hunter #1
Walker Stuart ...
Hunter #2


This film dramatizes the true story of Farley Mowat, when he was sent to the Canadian tundra area to collect evidence of the grievous harm the wolf population was allegedly doing to the caribou herds. In his struggle to survive in that difficult environment he studies the wolves, and realizes that the old beliefs about wolves and their supposed threat are almost totally false. Furthermore, he learns that humans represent a far greater threat to the land, and also to the wolves, a species which plays an important role in the ecosystem of the north. Written by Kenneth Chisholm <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


They Thought He Couldn't Do the Job. That's Why They Chose Him. See more »


Adventure | Drama


PG | See all certifications »

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Release Date:

27 January 1984 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Los lobos no lloran  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


The film took two years to make. See more »


According to Tyler's background narrations, it is early April when the snow melts and the lake is completely unfrozen by early May. In reality, snow in the Arctic doesn't melt until June. See more »


Tyler: In the end there were no simple answers. No heroes or villians; only silence.
See more »


Referenced in Heavenly Bodies (1984) See more »

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User Reviews

Fine fictionalized documentary ahead of its time
28 July 2002 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This fictionalization of the Farley Mowat book about his Arctic adventures studying wolves is amazingly enough perhaps the most controversial film Disney studios ever made. How sad is that? The reasons for the controversy would seem minor: first, the movie is not entirely true to Mowat's book; two, it's lightly plotted; and three, a man is seen running around naked in the tundra. To which I say, so what? so what? and gee, how offensive. (Maybe they should have clothed the wolves.)

The latter complaint is the major reason for all the ranting by some "reviewers." To them a Disney film showing human nakedness seems a sacrilege and they want their bowdlerized world returned to them, and they want Disney censured and made to promise never to do anything like that again! The complaint that there wasn't enough tension in the film is also off base since this is a contemplative, even spiritual film, not a slick thriller. People with sound-bite attention spans who need to mainline exploding cars and ripped flesh to keep them interested need not apply.

The criticism that Director Carroll Ballard's film is not entirely true to the book is legitimate, but I would point out that movies are seldom if ever entirely true to their source material. A film is one kind of media with its particular demands while a book is another. It is impossible to completely translate a book into a movie. Something is always inevitably lost, but something is often gained. Here the cinematography and the beautiful musical score by Mark Isham are fine compensations.

The acting by Charles Martin Smith as "Tyler" (Farley Mowat) and Brian Dennehy as Rosie, the exploitive redneck bushpilot, and Samason Jorah as Mike the compromised Inuit (who sells wolf skins for dentures) and especially Zachary Ittimangnaq as Ootek, the quiet, wise man of the north are also pluses. Note how compactly the main issues of the film are exemplified in these four characters. Indeed, what this film is about is the dying of a way of life, not just that of the wolves, but of the Inuit people themselves who are losing their land and their resources while their young people are being seduced away from what is real and true and time-honored for the glittering trinkets of the postmodern world. This is a story of impending loss and it is as melancholy as the cold autumn wind that blows across the tundra.

What I think elevates this above most nature films is first the intense sense of what it would be like for a lower forty-eight kind of guy to survive in a most inhospitable wilderness, and second the witty presentation of some of the scenes. Ballard works hard to make sure we understand that it is cold, very cold and desolate and that there are dangers of exposure and weather and just plain loss of perspective that have killed many a would-be adventurer and might very well kill Tyler. I think it was entirely right that near the end of the film we get the sense that Tyler is going off the deep end emotionally, that the majestic and profoundly melancholy experience has been too much for him.

Tyler begins as a greenhorn biologist dropped alone onto a frozen lake amid snow covered mountains rising in the distance so that we can see immediately how puny he is within this incredibly harsh vastness. The following scene when Ootek finds him and leaves him and he chases Ootek until he drops, and then Ootek saves him, gives him shelter, and leaves again without a word, was just beautiful. And the scenes with the "mice" and running naked among the caribou and teaching Ootek to juggle were delightful. The territorial marking scene was apt and witty and tastefully done. (At least, I don't think the wolves were offended.)

This movie was not perfect, however. For one thing, those were not "mice" that Tyler found his tent infested with. I suspect they were lemmings posing for the cameras. Those who have seen the film about the making of this movie undoubtedly know what they were; please advise me if you do. Also the "interior" of Tyler's tent was way too big to fit into the tent as displayed. Also it would be important from a nutritional point of view for Tyler to eat the "mice" raw as the wolves did! (The actual creatures that Mowat ate I assume were mice.) If Tyler had to exist purely on roasted and boiled rodent for many months, he would encounter some nutritional deficiencies. Still, eating a diet of the whole, uncooked mouse would be sustaining whereas a diet of lean meat only would not. (Add blubber and internal organs for an all-meat diet to work.) Incidentally, the Inuit people get their vitamin C from blubber and the contents of the stomachs of the animals they kill.

Where were the mosquitos and the biting flies that the tundra is infamous for?

Since this movie appeared almost twenty years ago, the public image of the wolf has greatly improved and wolves have been reintroduced to Yellowstone Park. I think everybody in this fine production can take some credit for that.

(Note: Over 500 of my movie reviews are now available in my book "Cut to the Chaise Lounge or I Can't Believe I Swallowed the Remote!" Get it at Amazon!)

45 of 51 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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