A docu that’s considerably more absorbing than the feature film from which it derives, Gerardo Olivares’ “Marcos, the Lone Wolf” answers most of the questions unexplored by his 2010 local hit, “Among Wolves.” Starting out as a quest for the feral child Marcos Rodriguez, who lived alone in the mountains for 12 years, Olivares tracks him up until the present day, doing due justice to all the intrigue, emotion and absurdity that his subject’s life promises. An example of a nonfiction film with real universal interest, tube-bound “Wolf” could also howl at fests with an eye for the offbeat.
In 1953, at the age of 7, Rodriguez was sold by his father to a goatherd and went to live in the mountains in a remote region of southern Spain. After the goatherd died, Marcos preferred to stay put rather than return to his physically abusive dad. He was found in 1965 by policemen who returned him to his father, whose only comment after 12 years was to ask why his son had lost his jacket. Unable to walk upright, Rodriguez was abandoned again, this time by the police. It’s at this point, the docu intriguingly proposes, that his real troubles began.
Initially, Olivares traces this remarkable story via an anthropologist, Gabriel Janer, who interviewed Rodriguez in the 1970s. We learn that his childhood instinct for socialization was projected onto the wolves with which he exchanged food, and whose language he learned. It seems that by the age of 7, humans have all the survival instincts they need.
Olivares traces the adult Rodriguez to a house in northern Spain, where he’s been living with an elderly couple who adopted him. Now in his 60s, he is essentially still a child, a fragile being who still leaps joyously and unself-consciously about, and who has never been as comfortable in society as when he was living in a cave.
“Marcos, the Lone Wolf” features lengthy extracts from the interviews Olivares carried out with Rodriguez for “Among Wolves,” a film that, as Rodriguez says, finally restored some dignity to his luckless life. He is a larger-than-life character, a wise innocent with an infectious, cackling laugh, and someone auds should find engaging and instructive.
Full of great stories, as the subject matter implies, the pic is shot through with the mixture of fascination and respect Olivares clearly feels for his subject. But it also stands as a record of the harshness of Spanish rural life 50 years ago, with Rodriguez’s story a to-the-point parable about whether it’s wolves or men who are the real animals.