As night falls, an ethereal mist creeps over a forest canopy as old as time. The primeval howl of a wolf echoes across the mountains followed by another and another, a pack crying in unison. Down in the valley, a bison flicks an ear, a deer is startled and a beaver swims for cover, whilst a bear waits in anticipation of a kill. The top predators gather to hunt and to feast.
This is the story of one of the last wildernesses in Europe, where every creature plays a part in the eternal cycle of life and death. This is the land known in history as the ‘Wolf Mountains’.
For nearly two years, Slovakian wildlife filmmaker Erik Baláž and photographers, Karol Kaliský and Jozef Fiala, trekked the length and breadth of the mountains and forests of Eastern Carpathia, a region that straddles Slovakia, Poland and the Ukraine, in search of the elusive wolf population and the other extraordinary animals that share their territory.
They discover a world untouched by Europeans, but it was not always so. Ancient man once revered the wolf and lived side by side for survival. In later centuries, hunters persecuted the wolves to near extinction and farmers coveted more and more of land for agriculture. Only the most resilient of flora and fauna survived the onslaught. Today Erik’s team records a rare portrait of a wilderness reborn from the ashes of destruction and uncovers an ecosystem as complex as any of pristine nature left on Earth.
They film bison, giant herbivores that once roamed this vast wilderness in ancient times, beasts that once again invigorate the woodland for thousands of other species like salamanders and woodpeckers. They film beavers building dams and lakes to allow frogs and insects a thriving home. They film deer frolicking through the forest during mating season. They film brown bears by the spectacular San River in a daily effort to find food from any source possible - in preference, from the remains of a wolf kill at their peril! They record the tenacity of animal survival during a bleak frozen winter. And, from the most secretive hides, the camera team finally capture glimpses of the wolf, the most elusive animal of all, as this top predator goes on the prowl in search of prey.
This film offers a journey back in time to when a European wilderness was truly wild and a living organic entity. It also offers a chance to look in the eye of the creatures we once lived alongside in the encounters of our past. This is life in the ‘Wolf Mountains’ (arollafilm.com).