Real wolves star in wild epic 'Wolf Totem'

By Zhang Rui
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, February 6, 2015
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The wild epic "Wolf Totem" premiered in Beijing on Wednesday and most of scenes involving wolves are real, director Jean-Jacques Annaud said.

French director Jean-Jacques Annaud and the cast and crew of "Wolf Totem," including actors Feng Shaofeng, Shawn Dou promote at the premiere in Beijing on Feb.4, 2015. []

After producer Wang Weimin failed to get real wolves tamed at first, he wanted to give up. But he saw Canadian animal trainer Andrew Simpson's name in a French movie "Wolf" on a flight later, which actually saved the project.

"When the director called him, Simpson paused in a calm silence, and then said, 'I've been waiting for your call for three years,'" Wang remembered.

French director Jean-Jacques Annaud, famous for his movies "The Bear" (1988) and "L'amant" (1992), is billed as the man who knows exactly how to shoot films featuring wild animals. Simpson is one of the most reputed animal trainers who can train wolves. Both Simpson and Annaud read the original book of "Wolf Totem" when it came out and decided to do the project somehow, but waited for three years to get connected.

When Simpson joined the crew, he spent four years raising and training three generations of real Mongolian wolves from births in Beijing and Inner Mongolia. During the time, Annaud became even more fascinated by "Wolf Totem" and even gave up directing "Life of Pi," a film featuring a tiger later made by Ang Lee.

"When I read the book ('Wolf Totem'), I found it a fabulous emotional epic," Annaud said at the press conference held in Beijing on Wednesday.

As for why he decided to do the film even when he had only read one third of the book, the 71-year-old director said, "We have experience shooting bears, tigers and also people. In one of my recent movies 'Enemy at the Gate,' it's about snipers. They are hunters, and wolves are hunters, so I was familiar with the world. It was a big challenge, but we in this movie business love to do movies that are impossible. This is why all of us, producers, directors, actors and crew, choose to be in this crazy business, and why we are happy."

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