Cry of the Wild
Bill Mason: Beyond the wild, beyond the paddle - A selection by Albert Ohayon

Cry of the Wild

| 1 h 28 min
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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

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  • director
    Bill Mason
  • script
    Bill Mason
  • editing
    Bill Mason
  • narrator
    Bill Mason
  • producer
    William Brind
  • photography
    Bill Mason
    Blake James
  • sound
    Don Wellington
  • sound editing
    John Knight
  • re-recording
    Michel Descombes
  • music
    Larry Crosley
    Bruce Mackay

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  • Brasstacks

    This was a great film. It was a bit scary for me to watch,but excellent!

    Brasstacks, 6 Nov 2013
  • merlinsdreams

    What a beautiful and remarkable wildlife documentary! This film has dispelled so many myths I held about these wonderful creatures. For its educational value - I can't rate it too highly! Thank you!!

    merlinsdreams, 6 Aug 2010