The Call of the Wild

We saw this latest adaptation of the Jack London novel this weekend and… it was a lot better than I expected.

I should admit now that I haven’t read the source novel, nor have I seen any of the countless adaptations and the trailer really didn’t grab me at all.

My partner, however, is a big fan of the novel and so it was that we all traipsed out on Saturday evening for the 8:00 showing of the film. Other showings were available, but this was the only one that was subtitled rather than dubbed and I don’t think any of us were quite ready to hear Harrison Ford growling in Dutch.

Not being familiar with the source novel, and only having the trailer to go on, I was left with the impression that I was letting myself in for yet another family-friendly adventure centring on John Thornton (Ford) and his adorable new hound, Buck. It turns out that I couldn’t have been more wrong — the film is entirely about the dog. Indeed, Ford didn’t make a significant appearance until after the intermission, and even then he was very much the support to the canine lead.

Buck is a boisterous and poorly behaved pet until he is stolen and shipped north where he is sold to U.S. mail-folk Perrault (Omar Sy) and François (Cara Gee). Here he becomes part of a pack, of sled dogs, and begins to develop a sense of his worth — not as a pet but as a working animal.

All good things come to an end, though, and hard times follow for Buck as he falls into the hands of an arrogantly incompetent prospector before, eventually, finding himself in the company of John Thornton ready for the final part of his adventure.

The Call of the Wild is a really good film and one in which (apart from a few uncanny valley moments) Buck’s personality really does shine through and allows for some genuinely canine character development.

I really should go and read the novel.

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