The Bear

The Bear: a movie that actually relies on trained and tamed “wild” animals to do all of the acting. As you might expect, there’s very little dialogue.

It charms you from the first, the orphaned baby bear tugging at your heart strings. You want to put your arm around him even if his paws and claws are distinctly visible.

untitled.pngBut then: hunters. Bear-hunting hunters, of course. A scene of them skinning animals around a campfire hammers how their imminent threat.Good thing lil’ orphan bear cub (B.C.) makes a reluctant friend in a bigger (adult) bear (B.B.). They’re going to need each other.

Sure it’s a bit of a schmaltzy premise, and kind of a fuck you to mother nature; in the wild, an adult male bear would very likely eat the cub. In fact, to make sure the bear actor didn’t eat the cub, they made him play with a similar-looking teddy bear to prepare him. It must have done the trick as there were the-bear-3-1no known hasty bear funerals on the set.

But the rest is carefully orchestrated so that you feel as though you are watching real bears in the wild, going about their business, in a slightly anthropomorphized way. But the film is quite an achievement and must have required an awful lot of patience on the film maker’s part. Bears are not natural actors. I can’t help but feel that perhaps the bears too were exercising a great deal of restraint. The Bear is a singular experience in movie-going history. Disney’s got some documentaries that come close, but this is another thing altogether.

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