The rugged Canadian wilderness is the backdrop to this story of a dog separated from his owner.
This story, based on the novel Nomads of the North by James Oliver Curwood, is about the adventures of a malamute dog named Nikki. Nikki and his kind master, Andre Dupas, are traveling via canoe through the Canadian Rockies. When Nikki encounters Neewa, a bear cub that’s lost its mother, Andre ties the two animals together, plops them in the canoe, and heads for the rapids. When the two animals become separated from Andre, the unlikely pair must learn to survive in the wilderness. What is initially a relationship of hate and incompatibility transforms into one of compromise and friendship between species. Encounters with timber wolves, lynx, wolverines, and many other wild animals are vividly photographed and give viewers a real sense of life in the wild . When Neewa begins his long winter hibernation, Nikki sets off alone on a desperate hunt for food. Man’s scent leads him not to the friendly Andre Dupas, but to an angry trader who attempts to trap and poison him, eventually capturing him and training him as a fighting dog. This 73-minute feature has absolutely breathtaking animal and nature photography and the action is plentiful and absorbing. Especially forward-thinking for its time (1961) are its declaration that Indians don’t deserve to be treated as slaves, but as equals in the quest to trap animals, and its assertion that dog fights are “cruel, savage, not human, and bloodthirsty.” Nonetheless, animal-rights activists and sensitive children alike will find disturbing the shots of steel traps in use, the incident in which Neewa and Nikki almost choke one another with the line that joins them, and the gruesome dog fight scene.