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BMZ Review: Bears
By Ross Anthony


Oh My
Written by: Ross Anthony
Source: Ross Anthony's Hollywood Report Card
Date: June 2001


Category: Reviews

"If it's black -- fight back, if it's brown -- lay down, if it's white -- feel the bite," said Executive Producer Chris Palmer before the screening I attended of this ballet of bears. With bear numbers dwindling, this production shows off the bear in all its glory, in the hopes of winning your affections and encouraging preservation. In particular, the focus sticks to three types of bears found in North America: grizzly, black and polar.

We follow an Alaskan naturalist who takes visitors into the wild so that they might get a close up view of the mighty grizzly. Though a spectacular salmon feast is promised to the bears and the audience by the narrator, that prediction never fully pays off... leaving some bears and audience members unsatisfied. Though the salmon were probably pretty pleased, I'd wager.

In Montana, a drowsy black bear wakes from its slumber, sliding down a slope of snow while stretching its limbs. A couple of cubs squawk, too cuddly cute for words. I could have sworn Jim Henson was hiding in that den.

Which segues nicely into the etymology of the infamous "Teddy Bear." We're told that President Teddy Roosevelt (an avid hunter) once found himself with a pouty-faced bear cub at the barrel end of his rifle. Teddy's sparing of this cub made for a media delight, and precipitated the marketing of a new stuffed animal which became instantly known as ... well you know.

High points in the black bear segment include a sweet cub tussle and a truly dramatic first swim for the little guys across a strong river.

Though apparently the most dangerous, the white puffballs of the north seem almost affectionate, on screen. They roll in the snow, teeth and claws striking at each other and the ice. And when they're finished playing, these largest of all land predators munch on a few seals (not shown) - or (eek) polar bear cubs (also, left only for narration).

In sum, though the film makes great strides toward "rehabilitating" the image of the bear ... much of that distance is halved by a scene in which seven grizzly bears savagely claw at each other after finally catching a measly salmon or two between them.

Starring Smokey, Yogi, and Winnie. (Just kidding.)
Produced by National Wildlife Federation.

Copyright (C) 2001. 
Ross Anthony, currently based in Los Angeles, has scripted and shot documentaries, music videos, and shorts in 35 countries across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia.  For more reviews visit:

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BMZ Review of BEARS by Herb Lash

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