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misha and the wolves
A still from <i>Misha and the Wolves</i> by Sam Hobkinson, an official selection of the World Cinema Documentary Competition at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

Movie Reviews

[Sundance ’21] ‘Misha and the Wolves’ review: An incredible story that proves truth is stranger than fiction

An incredible story of denial and decit.

MIsha and the Wolves is a twisting documentary making its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival. During World War II, Misha Defonseca survived the Holocaust by living in the woods with wolves. Over time, the memoir became a sensation in some parts of the world, leading to film adaptations. A fallout with her publisher soon led to a shocking revelation.

There are many movies and documentaries about the Holocaust. Stories about survivors are especially prevalent. Misha and the Wolves is different in that it is not so much about the events of the war but how it affected people many decades later. It also examines thoughts about the Holocaust that even exist today. It is a unique look at the much covered war.

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Misha and the Wolves plays out like a true crime mystery. As the story unfolds, people are introduced in chapters. This makes the film play out like a book while also adding an added sense of suspense. The are characters in a grand mystery. Each introduction makes audiences wonder what are they going to reveal about Misha and her incredible story?

[Sundance '21] 'Misha and the Wolves' review: An incredible story that proves truth is stranger than fiction

As more layers are peeled back, even more questions come to light. As Misha’s former publisher tries to uncover the possible hoax, she starts to realize there may be truth to the story. Misha and the Wolves does a great job of drawing out the uncertainty. Instead of casting those involved as heroes or villains, it is centered on the process of solving the riddle.

Misha and the Wolves is one of the few stories that can successfully keep adding twists to the story. In many cases -even true stories – it gets to the point where all the sudden changes can become tiring. The story begins to drag and the audience wants to have resolution. This never happens in this well paced and interesting tale.

The cinematography in Misha and the Wolves is like many other true crime documentaries. There are plenty of talking head interviews, archival footage, and plenty of shots of someone sitting in front of a computer. There are some neat reenactments of young Misha fleeing into the wolves, however. Still, the story is definitely the highlight of the film.

Mysteries based on true stories can keep people interested without trying too hard. This is especially true when a possible hoax is involved. MIsha and the Wolves is a fascinating documentary. The film explores villains and victimization and will is filled with some unbelievable twists. It is about a phenomenal story and the power of belief.  

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