The Wolfpack


I finally got around to seeing The Wolfpack, but I was not prepared for it.

The true story of six brothers, aged 11 to 18, who were imprisoned in their New York apartment by their crazy parents, how could it be anything but dark and disturbing?

Somehow, from the promotional pictures I’d seen, I expected something more ‘quirky’ and lighthearted.

I knew the boys had learned about life from the movies that were their only link to the world outside. They were discovered walking down the street in the lower Eastside, dressed like characters from Reservoir Dogs, by a young filmmaker who ended up making a documentary about them.

Watching the family’s home movies, you see a group of children who are almost like puppies, clinging together with affection and loyalty and in the end, fear.

Fear of their father, a delusional South American devotee of Hindu, who didn’t believe in haircuts or exposure to the ‘poisonous capitalist society’ outside their front door, which he kept locked.

The mother has given up all power to her husband, who doesn’t believe in working but appears to like a drink or three.

The story is also a tale of resilience; the six boys are clearly damaged but somehow thrive. They are smart, sensitive, and loving. They are remarkably curious and life-affirming despite all odds.

But the picture of long-term abuse is just staggering. How does this go on?

It made me wonder how many households are run by little individual Hitlers, making crazy rules that no one has the nerve to disobey. The father here is like a paranoid Charles Manson without the charisma. A total shithead who somehow managed to get an idealistic farm-girl to buy into his delusions and bear him seven children.

The boys have a sister, Krishna, who was born with a disorder that keeps her tied to her parents, evidently.

Free Krishna, somebody!

One thing that startled me during this movie is the intensity of my revulsion for the Dictatorial Father. It is a visceral loathing that I carry around with me, ready to explode. All instances of dictatorial men, in books or movies or in the lives of my friends, trigger a deep antipathy, And by antipathy, I mean I want to kill them.

The Wolfpack father will never have to pay for his actions. All the petty authoritarian husbands and fathers out there will keep getting their way and ruining people’s lives. But why do women let this happen?

My own father left when I was 3 but maybe I’ve blocked out memories of his presence in the home. Or maybe it’s just the injustice of the situation that makes me want to kill these fucking bastards.

Everyone who has a daughter or who is in a position to influence young girls should make a point of teaching them to stand up and say No. Say No and walk away or run away if you have to.

It seems so obvious, and yet we haven’t made it clear.

See this movie for its unique gaze into the heart of darkness or because of the beautiful boys with the long silky hair.

But make sure you pass along the message to never let anyone control you. Ever. No matter what.

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13 Responses to The Wolfpack

  1. I had not heard about this. Looking forward to seeing it, now, and then re-reading your post. Thank you, Sister!

  2. Miranda says:

    The mother annoyed me with her soft spoken passivity. Her ‘loving’ acceptance of her insane husband for all those years made me gag. Then: when they attend the family reunion with her long lost relatives. Sickening–it felt very fake to me. The boys are fascinating. Watched it a few times. There was always something that aroused my curiosity/suspicion each time. Some information we weren’t getting… Can’t put my finger on it exactly. Love reading anything by you.

  3. Bevitron says:

    I definitely won’t be seeing it…looking into the heart of that kind of darkness without being able to actually help, like getting the apparently insane father permanently out of the picture, just makes me feel sick, sad, and frustrated. I wouldn’t be able to get that out of my head for weeks.

    I’m glad I know about the film, though, and extra glad that it was you I learned about it from, Sister. I always love reading your take on things sublime (Prince) or horrible. Please keep writing.

  4. Sister Wolf says:

    suzanne myers – Let me know what you think.

    Miranda – I feel the same!!!! Hate the passive mother and don’t forgive her. Plus that feeling of ‘what’s missing??” Absolutely.

    Bevitron – Good decision. I wanted to kill that fucker. But I don’t understand why a wife would give up her power and even her freedom like this!! Why doesn’t she say, Fuck you I’m out of here, or call the authorities to get her kids out. If you saw what a worthless little shit the guy is, you’d be even madder.

  5. Theodora says:

    Totally agree. Though I still haven’t watched it. Have you seen Surfwise? I’d like to know what you thought if you have. At least the kids were not locked up in an apartment, and we get to see the father’s reasoning as well.

  6. marie says:

    Hear, hear. Total agreement on the shit-ass father. Self-absorbed, violent, monkey males make me want to bludgeon them. I think the mother had too many damn kids to get out safely. He probably threatened to kill them all if she left.

  7. Dj says:

    Haven’t seen the film, but I hope those boys can find the best, meanest, sonofabitch attorney and sue the day lights out of both parents…criminal neglect, assault, mental and emotional abuse You name it. Shame….

  8. Long Time Listener First Time Caller says:

    I never comment although I’ve been reading you for years but I had to say how much I appreciate your ability to articulate your feelings as I do often share them but lack the mental acuity it takes to describe them so well. This is exactly how I felt while watching The Wolfpack. Sister Wolf you are truly a unique voice and brilliant writer in a sea of homogenized SEO driven drivel that appears to all be united by endless drips of bullshit. Thank you for your words.

  9. Sister Wolf says:

    Long Time Listener – Wow, you are so nice to write this! It helped to pull me out of a dark mood and means so much to me. Thank you so much.

  10. Sister Wolf says:

    Theodora – Now I’m afraid to watch Surfwise. Will if fuck me up??

    marie – Yep.

    Dj – They won’t. They love their mother. In these awful circumstances, her affection is probably what kept them sane – to whatever degree they are sane, it’s hard to tell.

  11. Theodora says:

    About “Surfwise”: Yeah probably. I don’t know, it didn’t fuck ME up, I actually enjoyed a lot of it, but I was younger and focusing on other things I think. I could relate to his point of view and his motives for some reason, but the kids didn’t feel the same way.
    Whatever it did to me, it made me NOT wanna watch movies like that EVER again! I still haven’t seen The Wolfpack, and I’m not planning to either. True stories like that are too much for me to handle.

  12. Theodora says:

    If you do get to watch it, please let me know you what you thought!

  13. Turcios says:

    Looking at the film you miss the whole point if you just assume the mother is part of the problem. She could have done things differently , but you even hear her sons says , if it wasn’t for her things could have turned out differently. Before you judge watch the whole documentary first.

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