Filmed in the arctic wilds of northern Canada, Following the Tundra Wolf is a nature documentary shot almost too realistically. Photographed largely with telephoto lenses, this voyeuristic scientific examination contains some footage that’s as fuzzy as a surveillance video from a bank robbery. And even though the explanations of the wolf-pack hierarchy and cooperative hunting are fascinating, this show is flawed.
First, this is less about wolves than about the caribou that wolves eat, making the title a tad misleading. The other problem is Robert Redford’s narration. Even as he repeatedly warns that the slightest human interaction will upset the delicate balance, Redford’s voice becomes an intrusive presence in the beautifully desolate landscape. And the overhyped hunting scenes (a super slow-motion sequence of wolves killing a caribou comes off like a nature snuff short) weaken the impact of the footage.
Still, the show has its moments: the sight of bright-eyed wolf pups bounding over the tundra to meet their mother, or the exhilarating chase sequence in which two wolves maneuver a thundering herd of frightened caribou toward a third wolf lying in ambush. These scenes create an honest reverence for nature that even ponderous voice-overs can’t dispel. B-