Misha and the Wolves
24 Aug 2021
Emilia Hobkinson, Laura Liberatore
An extraordinary story told in an ordinary way.
Misha and the Wolves tells the story of an incredible journey made by Misha Defonesca during World War II and the troubled creation of the subsequent book. During the Holocaust, Misha had been separated from her parents and moved to a rural house with new, failing carers. In an attempt to reconnect with her lost family, Misha, at only 7 years old, began a journey from her home in Belgium to find her parents in Germany. She sets off with basic supplies and, after finding Germany on a map (‘it didn’t seem too far away’ Misha recalled), she begins a journey that would create headlines globally many years later.
Along the way, Misha encounters the inevitable struggles and dangers found in nature. One of which was a pack of wolves that seemed like large dogs to the young Misha. Perhaps due to her fearlessness and confidence, the wolves did not attack. Instead, she found comfort in being with them. She becomes one of the pack as they protect her from threats across the long journey.
Of course, when the small-town Misha lived in heard of this story, there was amazement, disbelief and a desire to get this story heard globally. They wondered how this person could have such an incredible yet unheard past. This leads to a group effort from many people in the town to get Misha’s tale of survival heard. A highly successful book is created and sudden fame for Misha follows.
Misha and the Wolves is a well-crafted documentary. It tells an incredible story and tells it reasonably well. There are some interesting stylistic techniques utilised and often beautiful imagery. Furthermore, the confusion that is carefully crafted by Director Sam Hobkinson begins as an excellent way to keep an audience that is now acclimatised to seeing endless explosions on the big-screen completely focused on the true-story. It remains informative and absorbing throughout, steering clear from dullness and striking a balance between information and entertainment.
However, Director Sam Hobkinson seems focused on making something closer to a drama than a thought-provoking documentary. An unimaginative, ordinary drama that is arguably forced from an incredible story. Each individual is treated more like a character in a documentary less about Misha’s complicated tale and more about the tension of a small-town in Massachusetts. The shock turn of events that is eventually unveiled acts more as a plotline to this drama instead of an event that the audience is learning about.
Overall, Misha and the Wolves is a decent, well-made documentary that tells an outstanding story. It can be frustrating when the opportunity for more insightful ideas is ignored and instead more drama is forced out of the storyline. However, this unbelievable story of Misha and the Wolves had to be told. And this documentary is not a bad way to tell it.
MISHA AND THE WOLVES will be released in cinemas nationwide from Friday 3rd September.