Bears – Disneynature film, Blu-ray + DVD (2014)

by | Aug 4, 2014 | DVD & Blu-ray Video Reviews

Bears – Disneynature film, Blu-ray + DVD (2014)

Directors: Alastair Fothergill & Keith Scholey
Narrator: John C. Reilly
Studio: Walt Disney Studios Home Ent. 121559 [8/12/14] (2 discs)
Video: 1.78:1 for 16:9 1080i HD color
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 1.5, DD 2.0, French DD 5.1, Spanish DD 5.1
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
Dubbed: French, Spanish
Extras: 4 short featurettes: Welcome to Alaska; The Future for Bears; A Guide to Living with Bears; How Did They Film That?; “Carry On” short music video
Length: 78 minutes
Rating: *****

The first thing you’ll probably learn in this fascinating nature film is the bears on this remote peninsula in Alaska have never been hunted or shot at, so they just accept the human photographers and nature experts, and never attack them. The crew was left without plane or vehicles for protection and spent a lot of time on the shoot—two years. Two of them even donned scuba outfits and re-breathers (so bubbles wouldn’t bother the bears), in order to get one shot of a bear overhead swimming. They went to great trouble to find a particular bear den on the mountainside, but when the bear and cubs came out they were black bears and this was to be a film on Alaskan Kodiak brown bears so they couldn’t use it.

A second important thing to know is that No Bears Die in this film, as animals did in some of the other Disney nature films. So it’s a wonderful film for the entire family. (I still remember how hard Bambi had been on me as a child.) The kids will love the silly antics of the two cuddly cubs and the grownups will love the amazing cinematography and the humorous narration by actor John C. Reilly—a perfect voice choice. Even putting into words some of the corny thoughts of the cubs seemed appropriate. This was quite a contrast (as are all the Disney nature films) to the boring Erpi classroom films they subjected us to as children.

The phenomenal cinematography starts with the very opening, up close in the mother bear’s den with the two recently-born cubs snuggling up to her. This is in full color and very sharp, as though one were right there. Don’t know how they did it, and the featurette on that subject doesn’t tell you. The film follows the mama bear and her two cubs thru miles of snowy mountains in their long trek from the mountaintop den to the coast where the salmon are. Why the bears make their dens so far from where they need to eat is not explained. There are dangers galore on their way: wolves, and other big bears who might kill the cubs. The photographers even got some of the animals to “act” in their film: the one wolf was not really going after the cubs, but just hanging around the photographers out of curiosity, and they worked him into the film as a supposed dangerous predator.

It’s a great joy to see the bears completely free and doing their thing out in nature. The gorgeous scenery and fine cinematography, as well as bits of humor, make this a total winner of a nature film. You’ll also pick up a lot of fascinating facts about bears, such as that the mother bear must eat 90 lbs. of salmon a day to be ready to suckle her cubs during the 6-month winter hibernation. Everyone who’s ever had a teddy bear is sure to like this film enormously.

—John Sunier

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