I’m Locked in an NYC Apartment with 5000 DVDs to Watch and All the Food I can Eat

Sounds like heaven right?

Think again.

This is an acclaimed documentary called the Wolfpack.

The Wolfpack

It’s the story of 6 brothers and 1 sister who are kept “prisoner” by their father and mother in a New York apartment while they are growing up.

The film catches the kids, now aged between 11 and 18, as they start to break out and leave their bizarre family home. They journey out repeatedly as a group to see the New York city streets and the sights of Coney Island.

The film is in turn, fascinating and deeply upsetting. I’m interested because this story is so contemporary. It’s not interactive or transmedia – it’s just a story of modern lives – with huge ethical issues.

The kids, all named after ancient eastern gods, are kept locked in the apartment as semi-twisted experiment in safe guarding  and family loyalty by their alcoholic (or mentally ill) father.

To keep themselves busy, when not being home schooled by their mother, the kids watch a lot of films. Classics of the recent golden age from Tarantino, Scorcese and Lynch.

Not surprisingly, with no human contact (outside their immediate family) and nowhere to go, they start to play act the film’s stories and record it all with their own camera – inside the apartment.

They write out the entire scripts, create costumes and props (out of cardboard), and act our major chunks of the films – quite well actually. It’s like a rites of passage ritual.

But it’s heart breaking to watch the pre-pubescent energy of these boys, channelled into theatrical renderings of scenes that, even though have no relationship to their lives, have become to them a version of the outside reality.

When we see them heading out into the world, they are wearing suits and shades a la Reservoir Dogs, and they really do look like a wolf pack.

I have very mixed feelings about this.

As a boy, I escaped into films and stories and lived in my dreams to escape a chaotic family life – but at least I could go outside!

Ironically their imprisonment was done out of love.

The end of the film shows them outside, with their mother’s support, freed from constraints, so it’s a happy end of sorts.

I wonder how they are going to make their way in the world?

There are plenty of other articles out there about this film – it’s caused quite a stir – search here…


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2 Responses
  1. What a story. I watched the ABC documentary as a result of this post and it leaves you breathless as to the stark contrast of their first years compared to after they finally went outside. Personally, the father should be charged with abuse, but that’s me. The boys seem fairly grounded and respectful despite their imprisonment.

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