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The Bear

"The Bear" on DVD

A real Animal Act

by Jim Bray

Jean-Jacques Annaud's "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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Updated May 13, 2006