Wilderness adventure about the bond between an orphaned cub and a male Kodiak stalked by two hunters. The wild card in this hand is the peephole into the little cub's dream world: nothing succeeds in humanizing the animal (or animalizing the filmmakers) as much as the couple of glimpses into the creature's inner life. Aside from them, it is chiefly as a documentary that the film claims our attention; and the pressing exegencies of the plot slow down the pace much more than would the laxities of a free-form nature documentary. Even when the bears are most obligingly following out the dictates of the script (a female bear ambles along, the male pushes over a couple of trees to prove his virility, and the two of them regale the cub with a live demonstration of where he came from), we spend an inordinate amount of time wondering "How'd they do that?" This is not the ideal focus in a fiction film. (Much preferable is "Why'd they do that?" -- as, notably, in those dream scenes.) Accordingly, the most interesting possible movie here seems not to be the one called The Bear but rather a hypothetical one called "The Making of The Bear." In a word, a documentary. Directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud. (1989) — Duncan Shepherd
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