I went to see ‘Time of the Wolf’ at the National Film Theatre, not because I’m a fan of Michael Hanke’s films (this is the first I’ve seen) but because I’m interested in post-apocalyptical scenarios. I’m intrigued by film makers (and writers) who decide to show a very bleak, fractured view of humanity as we descend into lawlessness with a breakdown in the fabric of society following a catastrophic event. I’ve never really understood why this is the prevailing view point but I suppose the alternative doesn’t make for good story telling or provide an opportunity to explore the darker realms of humanity.
Michael Hanke says he’s not interested in making science fiction but it seems to me that with this film it’s exactly what he’s done. The breakdown of society following a catastrophic geo-political event is not the sole domain of science fiction but often this is the genre that allows authors to explore society and asks us to consider our actions and questions our motives.
‘Time of the Wolf’ is a bleakly shot, mentally challenging film that asks you to be uncomfortable, the camera lingers on the graphic slaughtering of a horse whilst almost politely looking away when a man is shot without provocation during the opening moments of the film. The stark manner in which the film is shot, with it’s lack of background sounds and murky lighting, leaves you with a sense of unease, abandonment and hopelessness.
After the film I read the BFI’s notes and wondered if I’d perhaps misunderstood the film as at no point did I feel challenged to stay awake nor did I feel scandalised or punished by the film. I think the reviewer gives an unnecessarily harsh view of ‘Armageddon’ and ‘Independence Day’ asserting that they ‘inoculate us against the unthinkable by turning it into concretely imagined spectacle’ but this isn’t a review of the review and the seemingly snobbish elitism of some film critics is a rant for another day.
‘Time of the Wolf’ is worth seeing, particularly as it deals with very similar themes as Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Road’, although I do feel that ‘The Road’ does a better job at captivating a mood of hopelessness and sense of unease… and I only hope the filmed version does this justice.