This feature-length documentary from Bill Mason imparts his affection for the big northern timber wolves and the pure-white Arctic wolves. Filmed over three years in the Northwest Territories, British Columbia, the High Arctic and his home near the Gatineau Hills in Quebec, Mason sets out to dispel the myth of the bloodthirsty wolf. Going beyond the wolf's natural habitat, Mason relocated three young wolves to his own property and was able to film tribal customs, mating and birth. As a result, Cry of the Wild offers viewers access to moments in wildlife never before seen on film.
A qualified box-office hit, Cry of the Wild, would eventually gross over $5 million in North America. Not bad for a documentary! Bill Mason had already made a TV documentary on wolves a few years earlier entitled Death of a Legend. The success of this film encouraged Mason to try and capture the wolf on film in its natural habitat so he decided to take his camera to the Northwest Territories over three consecutive winters. He interspersed this with some footage he shot near his Gatineau Hills home in a special outdoor enclosure where he kept several wolves that had been raised in captivity. The feature documentary was to be released in Canada on a small scale. At a showing in Edmonton, the NFB was approached by an American distributor very interested in releasing it in the USA. The company bought the North American rights and released it in New York City by renting out several theatres outright and showing the film on a continuous basis. This formula, known as “four-walling,” was so successful that Cry of the Wild eventually grossed $1.8 million in New York City alone. The film was released subsequently all over the U.S. and throughout Canada (along with a non-NFB short film on the legendary Bigfoot) and played to full houses everywhere. Well over 30 years after its release, it remains a big seller in the home video market.Albert Ohayon
From the playlist: Bill Mason: Beyond the wild, beyond the paddle