Ossus Library Index Non-Fiction Movie Index


Directed by David Lickley (2001, Primesco Corporation)
Narrated by Tyrone Benskin

A study of the cute and docile nature of North American grizzly, black and polar bears.



4 stars

March 2nd, 2003 on the IMAX screen


Very cute, and a well-made movie.

I am always amazed at how alike we are to so many animals. I can't figure out how people can refuse to believe we are related to animals genetically. The bears shown in this film use expressions, appear to have motivations, and use actions that are so human-like that it's simply amazing to wonder that we are different at all!

The movie starts in space, with the Great Bear constellation of Ursa Major, galloping towards Earth. It's great imagery, as we get to travel the world for a few seconds, so that no bear species is left out. The movie then retraces its steps to North America, where we spend the rest of the movie interacting with brown (grizzly) bears, black bears, and my favorite, polar bears.

Most of the movie is spent with the grizzlies, and a bear observer by the name of Kris Day. She seems to be a great person, who even tours families on excursions, where she shows them bears up close. It's incredible that she has developed such a rapport with these creatures. She has her favorites, which we get to meet. It was amazing watching the difference between immature and older bears, especially when fishing. The young bear is all over the place, looking for fish first in one area, then another. Finally he makes a catch and takes off. The older bears at the end of the film were incredible to watch. They would find their place, then plop down and wait. They looked very comfortable sitting in the water waiting for lunch. I loved watching the cubs wrestle and play in the water, especially one, who was fascinated by simply splashing the water over and over.

We barely spend any time with the back bears, which as the smallest North American bears seemed quite small indeed. We follow a family of mother and two cubs through the summer, after the cubs have left the den for the first time. They were very cute, and were even able to climb trees! I guess that's not a good way to escape a black bear. The funniest moment among them was trying to cross a river, where they get carried quite a ways downstream before figuring out what they should be doing.

The polar bears received a little more time, mostly waiting for the ice to freeze. These guys were the ones with typical human attributes. The way they pushed on the ice to check its strength and break through, or rumble-playing, were just too familiar. Sometimes, they even seemed to stop at the same time, as if to catch their breath. The cubs had such a loud purr as they suckled their mother's milk! Watching them gallop across the arctic was delightful.

The narrator did a good job, mostly keeping out of the way, just describing what needed to be described, letting the bears do most of the work, and letting Kris tell us about them and their habitat. I do wish they had done some better dialog looping, though. Her mouth barely matched what she was saying to the family she was leading.

In all, it was quite cute, and enjoyable for the whole family, even with the grizzly bear sex scene.


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