Shout Factory’s anniversary Blu-ray of Jean-Jacques Annaud’s 1988 masterpiece, The Bear, should have a place in your collection.
I’m serious. The Bear is a brilliant work of art, a film that you watch while pondering all of the craft and skill that went in to the making of it.
The Bear tells the story of a bear cub who is tragically separated from his mother after she is killed during a rockslide. Afterwards, the cub wanders aimlessly through the harsh wilderness on his own, trying to survive, and constantly being mesmerized by the world around him. The day comes when the cub crosses the path of a much older bear, who then takes it upon himself to train the cub in the ways of bear-hood.
Meanwhile, two hunters – a father and his clumsy son – are hot on their trail, with the intent of taking some bear skins back to their camp. Soon, this becomes an intense tale of the struggle between man and beast, and despite the PG rating, it may be a little too much for children to handle. This is not a cute and cuddly film. Okay, well, sometimes it is. But for the most part, this is a very emotional film, and if that opening scene doesn’t make you want to cry your eyes out, you simply have no soul.
The technical aspects of The Bear are quite impressive. The score and sound mix are both immersive and haunting, and the claymation dream sequences are extraordinary, adding a surreal touch to the film. The “performances” by the animals – including Bart the Bear – are phenomenal across the board, and Annaud’s direction is stellar, as always. You have to admire the man for taking on such a monumental project. This is the kind of undertaking that requires the utmost patience, and all of that passion and love is right there on the screen. Make no mistake – this is a “passion project”, and had to have been for all involved. All I know is that they truly don’t make films like The Bear anymore. It is one of the best films from the eighties.
Shout Factory’s anniversary Blu-ray does the film justice, featuring an all-new transfer and several special features. Grab this one while you can. It’s definitely worth it.