Eating one’s own family member to survive sounds brutal doesn’t it? Well, life is very brutal. Never Cry Wolf is a film that is centered around a biologist’s expedition in the arctic tundra to determine if wolves are the cause for a declining caribou population. Tyler is the biologist who must survive and study the wolves for six months in the brutal arctic terrain. Tyler forms a personal connection with the wolves throughout the course of the study and learns that the wolves are not decimating the caribou population, for the wolves only feed upon the sick and weak caribou. Tyler overcomes everything the Arctic had to throw at him and returns to human society. The film Never Cry Wolf reveals that even though survival on Earth is brutal, life will find a way to survive.
Anything that lives must face the possibility of death, and often death is unexpected. Throughout the film Death is always near Tyler, for this can be seen with the caribou skulls can be found within feet of the hut that Tyler is taking refuge in. This shows that the safe area Tyler is dwelling in is a small sanctuary of mercy surrounded by an ominous and vast landscape. In addition, the caribou skulls reveal that if they are unable to survive the area to which they have evolved to survive, it is even more likely for Tyler who is not accustomed to the brutal environment of the Arctic. While walking across a frozen lake booming and cracking noises are heard by Tyler, but he continues to tread across unexpectedly falls through the frozen layer of the lake into the freezing waters. This instance reveals that chances of death are not always obvious. Furthermore, it can be stated that to avoid unexpected death one must have previously survived a similar near-death experience, for this means that without that experience a being will be completely clueless as to how to survive. Death is always looming around the living and can take place at any given moment of time.
Rapacity is a characteristic that all organisms must possess to survive. Tyler meets Mike a toothless Eskimo who makes a living by killing wolves; however, at the end of the film, Tyler sees Mike smiling with a new set of dentures shortly after two wolves Tyler had been studying disappear. The new dentures Mike is seen smiling with are symbolic in the sense that they represent the greed that all organisms possess. The act of taking the life of another organism to benefit oneself can only be classified as pure greed. In addition, the fact that the lives of the wolves were taken only to benefit his own appearance this rapacious action was entirely unnecessary. As wicked as the concept of greed might be, organisms must be avaricious to survive.
Adapting brutish principles is another necessity that organisms must recognize and apply. For example, in the film, a pack of wolves is seen killing a sick caribou. The wolves must feed upon the caribou to continue their existence. However, this brutal act of feasting upon the caribou proves to be beneficial to both the wolves and the caribou beyond the mere act of feeding. By the wolves killing only the sick and weak caribou, those who survive are stronger and more likely to be successful at reproducing. As a result, the herd of caribou will grow in numbers and provide more food for the wolves as there will continue to be a sustainable population of caribou. Survival cannot be achieved without committing acts of brutality, but it can be noticed that while brutal acts appear to be savage at the moment that such an action occurs, often such actions benefit the future existence of a species.
Though it might not always prevent the act stumbling into death cowardice is as necessary as breathing when it comes to survival. At the beginning of the film, Rosie flies Tyler into the Arctic inside of a rugged airplane which Rosie enjoys because the danger of flying in the decapitated aircraft brings adventure; however, near the end of the film Rosie is flying a new bright yellow airplane. The new plane represents Rosie’s departure from and adventurous lifestyle to one that is more secure and comfortable. Rosie has undergone an adaptation in order to increase his chances of survival. According to National Geographic, it is stated that “An adaptation can also be behavioral, affecting the way an organism acts” (National Geographic). Rosie’s adaptation is not physical such as growing more hair to survive the cold environment in the artic. He adapts in a way that changes his behavior and his lifestyle, and the cause for this change is a reaction to the fear that is induced by the crushing environment that he lives in. Upgrading from a rugged bush plane to a new plane was a choice that was made because of fear. The fact that the plane is yellow is no coincidence, for yellow is often attributed to cowardice. Living as a coward means that one must avoid danger, for the new plane that Rosie flies reveals that Rosie has accepted that cowardice is the key to survival. A being must live life in fear to increase its chances of sustaining itself.
The message that survival on earth is brutal is portrayed using a variety of appeals to ethos, logos, and pathos. The heaviest and strongest appeal to the emotions of the audience can be seen with the relationship that Tyler has developed with the wolves, for he has even named the wolves, and in a sense has somewhat become one with the wolves. Tyler’s wolves are murdered by a fellow human, for the man wanted to acquire the wolves’ pelts. A crushing blow to the emotions of Tyler is struck, and such a blow connects to the audience. For the tug at the viewers’ emotions are found in the roots of sympathy. The message that life is brutal is delivered full force by use of pathos in the killing of Tyler’s wolves. An appeal to logic can be seen in the case of Rosie abandoning his adventurous life for a life that guarantees survival though ways of cowardice. It makes perfect logical sense to get a better plane to survive, and the pride that Rosie must swallow now proves to be detrimental to his character. Tyler is used as the foundation for the appeal to ethos, for Tyler is an expert in the field of biology. Tyler is used as a ferry to bring the messages in the film to the audience. He is human, and his experience and training were not quite enough to at first survive the ominous conditions of the artic, for Tyler relies on assistance from a local native to help him survive. Tyler’s character acts like a locomotive to deliver a message that can be easily interpreted by the audience by means that the audience can relate or understand some of the hardships that Tyler must face in the artic, challenges, and problems that extend beyond his mission. The challenges that Tyler must face serve also as a means of delivering the appeal to ethos, logos, and pathos. The appeal to logos is the initial challenge that Tyler is faced with, investigate the cause of the vanishing caribou population, for this is something that ends up being more than black and white, and it proves to be a developing problem throughout the time that he spends in the artic. Ethos can be represented as the duration and determination that Tyler must exert while investigating the wolves in the Arctic. Lastly, the pathos that is represented as a challenge is the crushed bond between Tyler and the wolves, when the pair that he is studying is murdered by a man that Tyler had originally trusted. The film’s message is delivered in various ways, of which all touch on the aspects of ethos, logos, and pathos.
The obstacles that one must face to survive on Earth seem unjust. The film Never Cry Wolf reminds us that while survival may be difficult, life will find a way to overcome the brutalities that seek to bring death. The film reveals this by displaying some of the ways life acts to survive such as rapacity and cowardice. In addition, it is shown that life must face brutality with cruelty to preserve its existence. The message is supported by appeals to logos, ethos, and pathos, in such ways that make a man on a couch watching the film be able to understand some of the difficulties Tyler had to overcome. Throughout the film, Tyler is used as a way to effectively deliver the message through the fragile body of a human trying to survive in the Arctic. Slipping away is a much easier than surviving, for much effort and luck is needed for life to sustain itself: So why is it that life seeks to survive instead of to go the way of all flesh?
Ballard, Carroll, director. Never Cry Wolf. Walt Disney Pictures, 1983.
Never Cry Wolf is a film that is centered around a biologist’s expedition in the arctic tundra to determine if wolves are the cause for a declining caribou population. Tyler is the biologist who must survive and study the wolves for six months in the brutal arctic terrain. Tyler forms a personal connection with the wolves throughout the course of the study and learns that the wolves are not decimating the caribou population, for the wolves only feed upon the sick and weak caribou. The film serves as the foundation of the message that is analyzed in the paper. Events in the story and developments in Tyler’s character serve as the evidence used to support the explanation of the message.
“Adaptation”. National Geographic. National Geographic. Web. 10 July 2018. https://www.nationalgeographic.org/encyclopedia/adaptation/
A page that covers the different types of adaptations that a species can undergo. Serves as the source of what my explanation of adaptation is and how adaptation ties into the message of the film.