Bear" on DVD
A real Animal Act
by Jim Bray
"The Bear" is an unusual film in which the animals star, and the few humans
are relegated to supporting roles.
Set in the Rocky mountains
of British Columbia in the late 1800's, the film is the story of a bear
cub who right off the top loses his mother to an accident and is left
to his own devices.
The cub eventually
teams up with a massive Grizzly and the two form a symbiotic relationship
that works for both of them as they make their living in the gorgeous
but harsh mountain environment.
Their chief enemy,
of course, is Man - specifically a duo, then trio, of grizzled grizzly
hunters intent on bringing back the big bear as a trophy.
The bears and the
humans are challenged by their adversarial relationship and their environment,
and the film becomes not only a battle of wills and strength, but also
a test of character for humans and beasts alike.
The animal actors
are incredible. The director and his crew have made these creatures true
thespians, and they turn in performances that, were an Oscar given to
animal actors, would have garnered them statuettes. You know what these
bears are thinking, how they feel, at all times - and they clearly show
their ingrained decency.
"The Bear" is cute,
funny, exciting, and it makes you think. Add to that a series of wonderful
mountain vistas (though set in British Columbia, the film was shot in
Northern Italy but as one who knows the British Columbia Rockies I can
tell you the Italian Dolomites stand in beautifully) and you have a remarkable
movie that must really be seen to be appreciated.
The DVD is offered
in digitally-mastered anamorphic widescreen and Pan&Scan versions,
with Dolby Digital audio. Picture and sound quality are excellent. Extras
include a decent liner essay inside the box, production notes, a couple
of very charming documentaries, talent files, chapter stops, and the trailer.
The Bear, from Columbia
Tristar Home Video
93 minutes, Widescreen (2.35:1)Pan&Scan, Dolby Digital
Starring the Bears, with Jack Wallace, Tcheky Karyo, Andre Lacombe
Produced by Claude Berri, Screenplay by Gerard Brach
Directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud
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