Title: To the Wolves...
Length: 87 mins
Starring: Brett Robinson, Thomas Nöla
Director: Thomas Nöla
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Genre(s): Indie, Horror, Mystery, Adventure
Studio: Eskimo Films
Country of Origin: USA
Features: Theatrical Trailer, Teaser, ‘Behind The Wolf ’ Production Vignette, Thomas Nöla et son Orchestre Music Video, Chapter Selection, Soundtrack Lounge
Produced in: 2007
To the Wolves... is a film written and directed by Thomas Nöla, known in my life and through Heathen Harvest itself namely as his musical alias; Thomas Nöla et son Orchestre. From what information can be gathered, it appears that Thomas Nöla is alos behind two other films, The Doctor, and Jack. The Doctor's soundtrack was also conceived by Thomas Nöla et son Orchestre, just as was the To the Wolves... OST. This short explanation behind Thomas Nöla should show you that he is not just an ordinary director, writer, or composer. Thomas Nöla is a man possessed by art itself, taking his dab at every possible portion of the films in which he creates. As an all-around artist myself, even I find it extraordinary that a man can have this broad range of talents within his one body, but it shows a plasuable nature for every human if given the right circumstances and will to create. However, this is not intended to be a biography for Thomas Nöla, nor an artistic article. This is a film review...
To the Wolves... is a film with a plot but without meaning. Take this as you may, the sentence doesn't mean much in the long run of the film. It is merely about two gentlemen travelling our planet Earth and seeking what most human civilization also attempts to find through their lives; to live life without chains, as objective as it may be. The film opens up with scenes of playful and mischeivous wolves playing and fighting with one another. When we first see our two main gentlemen, we are introduced through a blood-drawing scene. Yes, needles. Thank you Thomas for throwing that in there, you must have read my mind. I really did feel like having a good vomit today. Regardless, this scene alone shows the spontanious nature that this film follows throughout the entirety of the 86 minutes. While its not quite so spontanious that it becomes unfollowable, there are moments where nearly anyone will find themselves wondering just how the hell they got here. Though this inevitably leads me to my first big thought on this movie: Reality vs. Surrealism.
At times the blend between what is real and what is perhaps story is so foggy and complex that it is nearly impossible to tell if we are even still on the same planet. Of course, this is a completely fictional story with fictional characters ("The Doctor"s name is never even revealed...), but there is a certain amount of realism that is generally present in films like this; places, eras, times, etc. Reasoning is left to the wind as well with many things here which at times adds to the surrealistic nature of the movie. I believe it was the Tsar that was said to have died at the age of 475 at the hands of a child prostitute. Perhaps I misheard, but after two rewinds I still heard the same phrase. There is also the affinity for blood throughout the film. As stated previously, To the Wolves... opens with a blood-drawing scene. It is also during these beginning credits that we see Bruno Helden and The Doctor squirt the doc's blood into an man's glass of milk whom is laying either injured or starving on the concrete outside of a brick building. The man is the most modern looking of the characters throughout this movie and perhaps there is an underlying meaning that I have somehow missed, but both blood and milk are repeatedly present throughout (see the dinner scene with Tsar Mortibund). Even the film title itself, "To the Wolves..." can have two very different, yet somehow similar meanings. One can think of it as throwing the story itself literally To the Wolves, or allowing us to take in this very thought-consuming film and find our own answers within. However, we can also see this phrase as being a gentle nod to those wolves whom live among men even today. The fact is that there are a great number of questions that remain unanswered at the end of this film, which seems to be of Thomas Nöla's style and liking.
There is also the complicated polar differences between the doctor and Bruno Helden. Whereas Bruno came from a rather wealthy family and is regarded throughout the world as "a Helden", The Doctor was apparently raised in the wild by the beasts of the forest (and has a much darker sense of death and life in general than anything you may have read in Disney's "The Jungle Book"....please get some real culture you dolts.) This also works to explain The Doctor's affinity for blood and his need to drink it. There were times when I wanted to see him as vampiric in nature throughout the film but this is just a consequence of being raised on such film. As mentioned previously, there are a great many holes in this movie that are left unexplained, such as why was the doctor left in the woods to be raised? What happened to Bruno's family to now make him alone? What is with this half-hearted communication with the "trustees" throughout the film? Everything about this film is left up to interpretation, and very few things are left truely answered. The moment you think you have a grasp on the situation, something else pops to mind to completely destroy your understanding of the previous scenario.
Truely though, the greatest thing about this film is the fact that no one can ever truely understand or compose music that is perfect for a film except for the person writing the words behind it. The fact that Thomas Nöla also conceived the soundtrack for "To the Wolves" not only speaks volumes of who he is as an artist and dedicated musician, but also should tell you that the music backing the moments in this film are representative to the situation at a perfect level one hundred percent of the time. His choosing of locations (varying from Boston to Massachusetts to Rhode Island) was also splendid as these places certainly worked in his favor as backdrops. Most independent films such as this one hardly ever have a clue or spend far too much of the budget constructing such sets. Mr. Nöla found unique ways around needing a large budget to pull off a fantastic movie. It should also be noted that the film was accompanied by the soundtrack of the film which was, as said before, composed by Thomas Nöla. I will review this, however, on its own for the next issue of this webzine as it in itself is fairly complex in nature.
To the Wolves... to me was another brilliant example of how the underground and independent side of art continues to triumph over the 'mainstream' and its diluted bullshit existence. I found more enjoyment and intellectual thought through this film than I have through the past 20 movies that I have gone to a theatre to witness combined. To put it quite bluntly, if the industry toppled, many of us wouldn't miss it, and it would probably be, in fact, a good thing for existence all together. I wouldn't say Mr. Nöla would agree with me on this aspect, but his film was another piece of genius that has flowed to me before knowing just who he or his music/films were about. Give underground film a chance and purchase a copy of this.