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THE REEL: Alpha brings to life the story of boy, a wolf and survival

Friday November 23 2018

Alpha is a movie about survival.

"Alpha" is a movie about survival. PHOTO | COURTESY 

By THOMAS RAJULA
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Aren’t we all fascinated by dogs? Well, at least most people are.

Man’s best friend has been in man’s life for thousands of years without having been an animal that was kept for food (not to take a dump on societies that do eat dogs, but the majority of us haven’t ever looked at a dog as anything near being a source of nutrition).

THE HUNT

Alpha is a movie that tries to look into probably how the first interaction between man and dog came about. Set in Upper Palaeolithic Europe, 21,000 years in the past, it starts with a tribe of prehistoric hunter-gatherers in the last ice age going about life and initiating their children into young adulthood.

Tau (Jóhannes Haukur Jóhannesson), the chief of the tribe, is proud when his son Keda (Kodi Smit-McPhee) successfully completes the initiation task. As young men, the boys are then incorporated into the hunting band.

The maiden hunt is for buffalo (steppe bison), and the men head off to find a herd in the plains of their area. When they come upon a herd, they set up a plan to round them up and then basically just throw their spears into the midst of it and get however many that would fall. The plan was really simple and it should have gone off without a hitch. However, a bull breaks away from the herd and heads straight for Keda.

An experienced hunter would have known to probably get out of the way and stay with the other hunters to avoid becoming a target. However, this is Keda’s first hunt and he panics when he sees the bull barrelling on towards him. His coat gets entangled with the horns and he’s taken for a ride that was no doubt frightening.

He can barely hear the others, including his father, as they try to yell instructions at him, telling him to cut himself loose. The brief, intense ride comes to a halt, literally as the bull stops just at the edge of a cliff. The momentum sees Keda going off the cliff to the horror of his father and tribesmen.

SURVIVE

When they peer over the cliff, they see him lying lifelessly on a thin ledge. They wait for hours but he doesn’t respond to their calls nor make any movement to indicate that he’s alive. They go back to the village leaving him for dead, and Tau breaks the news to his mother Rho (Natassia Malthe).

But Keda wasn’t dead. He comes to sometime later that night, as rain begins to come down on the pains. With a broken leg, he manages to get off the ledge but now he has to fight off the harsh environment and wild animals as he tries to make his way home.

He meets an injured wolf that he nurses back to health, but the animal is still wild in the end. See how this relationship blooms, as neither understands each other’s communication language yet they need each other to survive.

Alpha is one of those movies that is more about emotions and feelings. For many, it will seem like a lengthy movie with many silent scenes that wouldn’t make sense unless you had watched keenly from the beginning. I have been accused by my close people of being a fan of movies that don’t necessarily have much “communication”. This one of those movies that if you’ve had a long day or are in an uppity mood, you most likely won’t get to enjoy.

It is very mellow, but it has great cinematography and amazing colours coming off the screen as you watch it. Oh, it’s also in some language I didn’t understand, so subtitles are a must when you’re getting this movie. It’s an okay movie; not so great but not bad either. The viewing is for all; feel free to watch it with whoever will sit through it with you.

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