In the 1850s, a young boy and his family on their way west become stranded in the Rockies. With the help of a local mountain man, a Sioux medicine man, and a legendary bear known as "... See full summary »
The director of Quest for Fire (1981) creates yet another film in nature with almost no human dialogue in this picturesque story of an orphaned bear cub who is adopted by an adult male bear and must avoid hunters. Bart the Bear stars in this anthropomorphic fantasy.Written by
Keith Loh <email@example.com>
Because in the wild, male bears usually eat bear cubs if they can, the filmmakers prepared the adult Bart the Bear for the cub by having him play with a teddy bear the size and fur color of the cub. When the trainers felt he was ready, he was introduced to the cub and he greeted the cub affectionately. See more »
The rock that kills the mother bear is noticeably smaller than the boulder that rests atop the dead bear. See more »
[examining bear tracks]
That's a huge male; bet he's more'n fifteen hundred pounds.
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At last a movie that seriously attempts to portray the world from a non-human point of view! It's a leap of the imagination that many of us, I'm sure, have never even contemplated. This beautifully-filmed movie, marketed as a kids' film, cannot of course undertake such a task without a few failures here and there; but whatever lapses into anthropomorphism there may be can be readily excused if one compares The Bear with, say, Milo and Otis (cringe).
The story, set in late nineteenth-century British Columbia, revolves around two bears; a young orphan and the huge male who adopts him. Much of the film has no human speech, viewers instead having to interpret the body language and sounds of wild animals. The photography is so impressive and the editing so nicely done that this is a fascinating process, reminding us just how much we as a species have in common with other animals. We can even identify with the bears' diet; they are omnivorous, as are we. Their physical actions and expressions of emotion make a compelling comparison with our own behaviour, and the filmmakers have done their utmost to retain as "natural" a feel as possible to such scenes.
The appearance of human beings, two bear hunters, comes almost as a shock after immersion in the simple world of the bears. The hunters are animals too, but unlike the bears they interact clumsily with the breathtaking wilderness in which they move; their predatory intelligence and use of weaponry have to compensate for their physical vulnerability. They are clearly aliens in an unfriendly environment, though they move as if they were the only creatures of importance within it. Bearskins are piled high in their camp, their little bastion of safety in the untamed wilderness.
These two worlds do of course collide. The hunters, in their arrogance, bite off more than they can chew when a poorly-managed encounter with the male adult bear leads them to pursue a vendetta against him. They capture the young cub to keep the adult in the area, then systematically set out to kill the creature that has caused them so much inconvenience. But the hunters have at last come up against an enemy that seems like the personification of an offended Mother Nature. In an absolutely convincing and spine-chilling scene, one of the hunters comes face to face with the reality of his position in the scheme of things in a manner in which he, and we who watch, will never forget. His teacher is The Bear; the young hunter leaves the mountains a fundamentally changed man. I have never seen the necessity of respect for our fellow creatures more ably communicated.
The movie ends with the focus once more on the young cub, who must find within himself the first glimmerings of the power his adult protector so effortlessly exudes. The humans have gone: the bears live on, their wild world unchanged by their encounter with the strange two-legged creatures that dared to intrude so unwisely into their affairs.
This beautiful and at times awe-inspiring movie is rated as children's viewing, but I would not recommend it for younger viewers. Older children and adults, however, can learn and gain much from this poignant and fascinating film. Hats off to the filmmakers, they have done their subject justice indeed.
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