AMONG WOLVES – A Review by Cynthia Flores
When Among Wolves opens, we see men on motorcycles riding into town and getting together to enjoy a heavy metal concert. There are strippers and booze for the bikers who are called The Wolves to enjoy. This scene looks like it could happen in any small town USA over a weekend except these people are speaking Croatian because it’s happening in post-war Bosnia 2015. Unlike the idea we have of motorcycle clubs that we’ve seen on TV like Sons of Anarchy which are involved in various nefarious and criminal acts The Wolves are actually the exact opposite. This motorcycle club is led by Bosnian War veterans who make it their mission to help their struggling small-town heal and defend the threatened herd of wild horses they first met on the front lines when they were young men.
It’s been nearly 20 years since the brutal civil war in Bosnia Herzegovina, and we follow the Wolf Motorcycle Club based out of the small mountain town of Livno as they live their day-to-day lives and recover from the physical and mental wounds of war. You feel like you’re a passenger in the back seat of the car as the men take turns driving back into the hills where they fought to now tend and defend a herd of wild horses whose numbers had once dwindled after the war but have managed to since double thanks to the intervention. As the men work amongst the horses, we experience the rugged peaceful vistas of this beautiful land. Several of the members talk about how much peace there is walking out amongst the hills, that it helps quiet their minds. One of the members named Zelijko says, “People after the war who don’t have anything to do – they have a complete breakdown. PTSD hits you the hardest when you are sitting at home. Out here in nature, with the horses, everything is different.” The men also talk about the camaraderie that they have with each other in the club. They can share troubles that they can’t share with their families because the men have all gone through a lot of the same things and they understand.
The leader of the Wolves is Lija. He was a paramilitary leader at the young age of 20. He led the successful defense of his town against imposing odds. He said they were outmanned and outgunned five to one but what they had going for them was that they were crazier and that’s why they stayed to defend their homes. The Wolves are rough in image only. Lija’s wild crew of multi-ethnic men has chosen to become a positive force for good with a focus on humanitarian deeds. Lija said “ Why would I want to be in a club that just rides and drinks? What good would that do?” He also states that they don’t do it because they feel guilty about what they did in the war instead, he says, they do it because it’s the right thing to do. To see these rough looking men helping out at a hospital, fixing a kindergarten, or giving blood regularly and just helping people in any way that they can is heartwarming. Also, no one takes credit for the good deed themselves instead they say that “The Wolves” did it. Also, when you see how the wild horses trust them and allow them to walk amongst the heard with little fear of the big men, it’s really quite impressive. They actively combat the stereotypes many have of bikers, war veterans, ex-Yugoslavs, and even men. The film even starts out with a quote by Victor Frankl – “What is to give light must endure burning.”
The cinematography in Among Wolves by Shawn Convey, while being intimate in its scope, is still able to give you a taste of the vast beauty that surrounds these hills and mountains. With the ever-present score by Josh Convey and Skooby Laposky which sounds like those bells that the Tibetans use to chant and meditate with it sets a mood of constant tension mixed with anticipation. You can’t help but be drawn into these men’s lives, giving the film an arresting power that is profoundly affecting. I give Among Wolves a solid A+ rating and hope you will seek it out on VOD.
Directed by Shawn Covey
Written By Kevin Ripp
Selig Rating A+
Running Time 1hr 34min
Release February 12th VOD
The Selig Rating Scale:
A – Excellent movie, well worth the price.
B – Good movie
C – OK movie
D – No need to rush. Save it for a rainy day.
F – Good that I saw it on the big screen but wish I hadn’t paid for it.