July 22, 2018


Film review: Netflix's The Skin of the Wolf: Paws for thought (Dominic Green, July 21, 2018, Spectator USA)

Samu Fuentes' The Skin of the Wolf, newly released into the digital wild by Netflix, is about the dangers of re-wilding. Some of us are already familiar with them: coyotes eating your pets, bears rifling through your trash cans, files of hikers spoiling your view by walking pointlessly from nowhere to nowhere, gangs of squirrels lounging under the street lights as they work out who gets which room in your home when they take over.

Civilization means de-wilding, said Freud, and re-wilding is the end of us. Freud knew all about this, because he took an annual walking holiday. Note the doctor's terminology. He went 'walking' in civilized garb--tweed plus-fours and coat--not 'hiking' in sweat-wicking plastic t-shirts and GoreTex trousers with too many pockets. He also wrote the case study of the Wolf Man, his analysis of the Russian aristocrat Sergei Pankejeff. It turned out that Freud, in his mythologizing zeal, misdiagnosed Pankejeff's dream.

The Skin of the Wolf is set in Asturias, in the Spanish Pyrenees, sometime in the nineteenth century. It concerns the domestic arrangements and allegorical fate of Martinon, a brutal wolf-hunter who survives by the skin of his teeth as the last and only inhabitant of a ruined village high in the mountains. Martinon (Mario Casas) has no one to speak to, except when he walks down to the village in the valley, a round trip of four days. He keeps his spirit up by grunting.

Martinon protects the villagers from the wolves, and the villagers pay Martinon by the pelt. When people lived among wolves, we had the good sense to despise and fear them. Now, living in cities, we romanticize them. When the wolves read White Fang and The Call of the Wild, they recognized our weakness for the myth of noble savagery. For decades, they have exploited our susceptibilities, and advanced towards the cities under cover of their propaganda unit, the huskies. The Skin of the Wolf is a setback for the advocates of the vulpine lifestyle.

Posted by at July 22, 2018 11:15 AM