Disney documentary ‘Bears’ it all for the camera

Walt Disney Studios/Courtesy

Oski would be proud of the new Disneynature film “Bears.” This documentary promises bears, and it does not disappoint. Not only does the movie provide the cuteness and the knowledge one would expect from a documentary about a mama brown bear and her newborn cubs, but it goes further, giving the audience a fragment of their lives.

The plot follows Sky and her two balls of furry and adorable fury, Scout and Amber. The adventurous camera team closely follows their trail and accompanies the family through their journey into life.

The overwhelming calm and fierce beauty of the scenery constitutes the central masterpiece of the documentary feature. Directors Alastair Fothergill and Keith Scholey marvelously capture Alaska in its most powerfully majestic glory. Intrepidly descending snowy mountains and green hills, along never-ending beaches and up mighty rivers, viewers chase the cubs’ tiny pawprints.

Although sometimes too benevolent in his approach to the savagery of nature, Fothergill, the award-winning director of “The Blue Planet,” achieves an absolutely incredible crystallization of the beautiful landscapes the documentary takes place in. The breathtakingly immaculate avalanches, the purity of the verdant forests, the harmonic tides of the oceans and the restless flowing of the rivers overwhelm and fill the viewer’s senses. Audiences are transported into a world of nature, where nature itself is all-powerful.

The narration is exquisitely performed by the talented and hilarious John C. Reilly. The narrative, though within a logic of educational purpose, crudely depicts the balance of dominance, of life and death, as perceived by Sky and the cubs. Through the excellently conducted story, the directors let us see how the elders understand the world and how they have come to terms with its essence, whereas the younglings still have much — if not all — to learn. And yet, Sky will give everything, until the last effort of her fading force, to save the lives of her offspring. She commands survival as a myth embedded in her genetic code.

The call of the wild lives through her and her cubs.

And thus a tale is told. This is the tale of three bears. It is the tale of the sacrifice of a mother and of her two innocent and naive cubs. They run together in search of food, survival and life. From the awakening from hibernation in the most freezing of mountains to feasting on salmon alongside plentiful streams, the crowd is almost forced into feeling, fearing and smiling for the three bears. It is a tale of bravery and courage, as well as of learning and humility.

Haunted by the ghosts of wolves and crows, Sky will live for her progeny — and die, if necessary. This is not only a tale of bears but also of their environment and the animals they coexist with. While the wolf is portrayed as a nimble and treacherous thief from which the cubs will never be fully safe, the figure of the crow is depicted as almost legendary, guiding the bears into safe havens by singing to them. It is a tale of heroic adventure, resolute valiance and, overall, cuteness, all in the incredible setting of one of the most titanic examples of unmarred and captivating natural beauty: Alaska.

I doubt Oski would ever be brave enough to walk in their paws. I have not screamed “Go Bears!” so loudly since the football season ended.

Run, sleep, breathe and live with this amazing family of brown bears as they roam the most beautiful of natural gardens for 77 of the most enticing and aesthetically pleasing minutes a documentary has ever given.

Contact David Socol at [email protected].