"What he becomes depends mostly on you. Kindness wins over." So says the grandmother to the boy Kurmash about the wolf cub he's saved from death at the hands of his uncle.
Will Kurmash's kindness compensate for the cruelty of his uncle?
And is the uncle really cruel, or just trying to toughen up his orphaned nephew for a hard life ahead?
This film has a "Call of the Wild" flavor to it. The opening shot has the words "These events took place on a Kazakh steppe on the eve of the Great October Revolution."
The boy bonds with his adopted wolf, Kokserek; the uncle remains dubious, although he acknowledges that Kokserek could be "a watchdog for us and a wolf for others."
A missing flock of sheep, the honest "criminal" Khasen ("Why did they they put you in prison," he is asked - "We demanded bread for our work,") who is quick with proverbs ("Empty belly - sharp eyes," "Luck is the crutch that idiots depend on," "A good man will always find a way to be generous,") Kurmash, his grandmother, and uncle - the paths of all of these intersect - along with those of Kokserek and his lupine brethren. The outcome is far from certain. Khasen's parting words echo across the steppe - "You cannot fight evil with evil."
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