To The Wolf
Aran Hughes and Christina Koutsospyrou
Greece, 2013, 74 min.
Seeing it as a student years ago, I remember that I found it puzzling in many ways. The tone of the film was rather strange and today you can read on Wikipedia that the film “…is in fact an early parody of the barely invented genre of documentary filmmaking.” I was thinking of it the other day, because I found myself watching a group of people living in a mountainous region in Greece, portrayed as extremely poor, and purportedly neglected and abandoned by the rest of Greece, if not the rest of Europe. To The Wolf by Aran Hughes and Christina Koutsospyrou (both are credited as director, cinematographer and editor) shows us an environment untouched by sunlight – metaphorically or otherwise.
A goat shepherd, Giorgios, and his parents plus another older shepherd, Paxnis, and his wife are the main characters in this film, where the sky is always grey and where power lines scar the (presumably) beautiful landscape. The opening of the film is a monologue by Paxnis. He tells us that Greece is dying and that people are stealing and we kind of get the idea that the financial crisis is to blame on for the misery of the region – which we as spectators of course are inclined to believe and frown upon. The film’s images are bound to make you breathless; less so the slow editing pace, but that’s okay. The characters look picturesquely weather-beaten, and everything seems to be going well from my perspective. But after a while,I began to suspect that the monologue in the beginning is what the film has set out to prove. That there is absolutely no hope; poverty and starvation will prevail. And they do. That could be a problem from a dramatic point of view if you’re into plot development. But what I find even worse is the impression I got that the film is actually doing the characters a disservice by depicting them like this – as victims of external calamities and an unseen enemy.