Tag Archives: carroll ballard

Carroll Ballard’s Never Cry Wolf

This is my final article looking at the great animal films of Carroll Ballard. The other articles are on The Black Stallion (1979), Fly Away Home (1996) before, and Duma (2005).

It opened the way to an old—and very naïve—childhood fantasy of mine: to go off into the wilderness, and test myself against all the dangerous things lurking there. And to find that basic animal that I secretly hoped was hidden somewhere inside myself. I imagined, at that point, I’d become a new man, with a strength and courage I’d never known before.


Tyler is a nerdy biologist who has accepted an unusual task: spend 6 months, alone, in the Canadian arctic to observe the behaviour of local wolves. Never Cry Wolf follows Tyler from spring’s thaw to the first snowfalls of the coming winter. It’s a curious film: subtle, slow, and moving. It is also a masterpiece.

Day 1 of Tyler's journey

The story is of Tyler’s relationship with wolves. Over the course of six months, he starts as a detached scientific observer, and learns to embrace his inner wolf as time goes on. (The quote at the beginning of this article is from Tyler’s voiceover narration in the first few seconds of Never Cry Wolf.) This film is about the furry condition.

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Carroll Ballard’s Duma

Duma (2005) is Carroll Ballard’s fourth and final great animal film. I’ve discussed The Black Stallion (1979) and Fly Away Home (1996) before; I’ll eventually round out my series with Never Cry Wolf (1983).

Duma is the name of a cheetah, one of the protagonists in the film. He and Xan, a young boy, take a journey through southern Africa.

Cheetahs: thinking skills need work

I want to start this article by talking about Duma, and what I learned about cheetahs from watching this film. I learned that cheetahs are morons.

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Carroll Ballard’s Fly Away Home

Fly Away Home (1996) is the third of director Carroll Ballard’s four great animal films. I’ve discussed The Black Stallion (1979) in a previous article; Never Cry Wolf (1983) and Duma (2005) will come later.

Fly Away Home is the story of a tween girl who becomes the de facto mother to a gaggle of young geese. Like Ballard’s other three films, it’s entertaining, great fun, and—in partnership with cinematographer Caleb Deschanel—a spectacular exploration of the beauty of his animal stars. It’s a grown-up movie that can be enjoyed by children.

But is it a furry film? And what makes a film ‘furry’ anyway?

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