Every now and then you read a synopsis of a movie, or show, that you know nothing about and it just grabs your attention. Well that’s exactly what happened when I saw Misha and the Wolves. It was advertised as an upcoming documentary movie of an unbelievable tale of survival. The true story of a young girl who was one of the lost children of the holocaust, fighting to stay alive in the woods as she walked from Belgium to Germany to find her abducted parents. This resilient young girl overcomes the harsh elements, battles with starvation, and forms an unlikely bond with a pack of wild wolves. You just couldn’t imagine a story like this being true. The Netflix movie written and directed by Sam Hobkinson focuses on the dramatic life of Misha Defonseca.
It’s hard to know where to start with the review of this film, because I am at once overcome with a million and one reactions, yet I don’t want to give away the catch to what makes this plot disturbingly engaging. When you begin the film, you learn about a woman in her golden years living in Massachusetts who seemingly keeps to herself. She is originally from Belgium, but no one around her knows much of anything about her until she starts to befriend some of her neighbors. As she grows closer with them, the trust also begins to develop as bonds are formed. Then one day she reveals to them her past. A stunning story about her survival during the holocaust and her search for her abducted parents.
I won’t lie, it’s powerful. Any story I hear from the Holocaust cripples me emotionally. It’s just truly an impossible situation to fathom, and beyond questioning. The early part of this documentary really does pull you in. Misha goes on to document her story in a memoir that is published in the mid to late ’90s. Disney gets in contact and wants to make a movie, Oprah wants to feature the book on her show, the book becomes an international bestseller. Then, it all changes, and the relationship between Misha and her book publisher turns toxic, and from here on out the story unravels in a way that is completely unexpected.
That’s what took me by surprise. The first half of this film is by any standard highly engaging, but without warning, the focus shifts in a way I was not anticipating. Where I found myself rooting for one person, I was suddenly left with a huge amount of conflicting emotions. This documentary is one of the most captivating things I’ve watched in quite some time.
The story pivots at the perfect point, but still allows the necessary time to develop this unsuspecting counterargument. But it’s such a slippery slope in what they’re trying to uncover. Thankfully, the testimony and the information presented appear credible, but the results are so disturbingly painful. The testimony from a Holocaust survivor, Evelyne Haendel, now a genealogist, takes on a parallel to Misha’s story, as the contrasting experience underscores the pain and the damage that is revealed.
The focus doesn’t overwhelm you with too much information, or too many personal accounts of what each person recounts, it has a nice balance to it. I come back to one central point about why I think this movie is so important to watch: it’s powerfully engaging. For 90 minutes I was on the edge of my seat, and multiple times I could not believe what I was watching or hearing. This is where the difficulty of the review comes in, because I would love nothing more than to dazzle you with examples of why, however, it’ll spoil the whole documentary.
Overall, Misha and the Wolves is an incredible documentary. I was left thunderstruck on multiple occasions watching it. The 90-minute run time seems to deliver so much information, but at no point does it drag. I couldn’t tear myself away, and I was left with so many feelings from start to finish. This is a documentary you have to watch to believe. It’s unlike anything I’ve seen, but it’s an essential watch.
Misha and the Wolves is available now exclusively on Netflix.
Misha and the Wolves
- Rating - 9/109/10
Misha and the Wolves is an incredible documentary. I was left thunderstruck on multiple occasions watching it. The 90-minute run time seems to deliver so much information, but at no point does it drag. I couldn’t tear myself away, and I was left with so many feelings from start to finish. This is a documentary you have to watch to believe. It’s unlike anything I’ve seen, but it’s an essential watch.
Aaron is a contributing writer at But Why Tho, serving as a reviewer for TV and Film. He is also the co-host and social media manager of the Nerds Social Club podcast.
Hailing originally from England, and after some lengthy questing, he’s currently set up shop in Pennsylvania. He spends his days reading comics, podcasting, and being attacked by his small offspring.