It’s a boy and his wolf against the world in this prehistoric epic.
In cinema, there’s nothing more heartwarming than the bond between a character and their dog.
From big, loyal family pooches as in Beethoven (1992) to the crime-solving canine sidekick in Scooby-Doo (2002) and the lovably sarcastic claymation pup in Wallace and Gromit, we’re a sucker for a good pooch sharing the big screen with his human buddy, and it cuts us especially deep in the feels when the dog doesn’t make it out alive – we’re looking at you, Marley and Me.
On a historical level, humans and hounds go way back.
Believed to have been the first ever domesticated animal around 15,000 years ago, the bond between early man and his best friend dates back to the end of the last ice age when predator and hunter-gatherer decided to co-exist in peace.
While the founding of this age-old relationship can only be hinted in archaeological remains, it’s a subject explored in upcoming film Alpha, set to release on 6th September.
The film follows Keda, a prehistoric young man who, after failing to prove his skills as a good hunter-gatherer for his tribe, is injured in a hunt and left for dead by his father.
Things don’t start off well as Keda is attacked by a pack of wolves. After fighting them off, one wounded beast – who Keda later names Alpha – remains and Keda has a change of heart about ending its life.
“Keda has trouble straying from the unconditional love he feels for the animals he’s expected to kill, as he sees them in the same act of survival that he’s in,” explained Kodi Smit-McPhee, who plays the primordial teen.
“Alpha is another being surviving in the harsh realities of nature. It’s Keda’s recognition of this that creates a bond not yet discovered in his time, the harmony of beast and man.”
But as a coming of age story set in the ice age, it’s not just the relationship between man and his furry pal that is crucial to Keda’s survival – it’s also about his relationship to his fellow humans.
Actor Jóhannes Haukur Jóhannesson, who plays Keda’s father, Tau, explained: “Tau’s role within the context of the script is being a father; he’s teaching his son how to survive in the world and passing on his wisdom.
Ultimately, [Keda] forms this relationship with the wolves and in a way, the wolf helps him on his journey.
“It has a lot of heart, that’s what stuck out to me,” he added. “It has to do with relationships – not only between father and son, but just between humans, and I think we all share that relationship with one another on some level.”
Also starring: Morgan Freeman, Leonor Varela and Jens Hultén
Directed by: Albert Hughes
Running time: 100 mins
WORDS Camille Hogg