Alpha, has everything: beautiful cinematography from director Albert Hughes, complemented by a simple storyline of a boy who becomes a man against all odds, rounded off with historical accuracy which lends an authenticity to the whole movie. But it refuses to be tagged as a mere “coming of age” story, or a “road trip” story, or “boy and his dog” story, which makes it so much more than expected.
The story is set 20,000 years ago. Keda (Kodi Smit-McPhee) is the son of a chieftain of a cro-magnon tribe, and is about to set off on his first hunt. Tau, (Jóhannes Haukur Jóhannesson) his father, really wants to be proud of him. But at 17, Keda is finding it hard to live up to the expectations placed on him, especially given that he isn’t keen on actually killing anything. The trip to the hunting ground is an arduous but necessary one, as it will provide the tribe with meat for the next year.
Keda is determined not to let his father down, but suffers a terrible accident that sees him left with a broken leg and stuck on a ledge halfway up a high, sheer drop.
Tau believes his son is dead, and in a scene which is truly heart-wrenching, is forced to put his tribe first and lead them home. Of course, Keda is not dead, but given the brutal circumstances, he would be forgiven for simply surrendering to his fate. Instead he sets out on an epic journey home, and along the way makes friends with a wounded wolf, Alpha. The beautiful relationship which forms between Keda and Alpha sees Alpha become the world’s first dog, and dog become man’s best friend.
The story gets a little laggy in the last few minutes, with so much winter wrath, but hold tight, because the ending is worth it. With such stunning cinema work, it is also worth seeking out a 3D showing to fully enjoy Hughes’ craft.
Edited by M. J. Premaratne