It’s hard to get a college student out of bed on a Saturday morning, especially to get them to a children’s movie, but Disneynature’s documentary “Bears” has the ability to hook audiences of all ages. The film takes viewers on an adventure into nature that is worth watching, even if only for the more technical aspects of the film.
The story is sweet, simple, endearing and ultimately has a happy ending — it is a Disney film, after all. But it is the documentary’s cinematic efforts that entertain the audience through the narration, music and cinematography.
“Bears” is the story of brown bear Sky and her two cubs, Amber and Scout. The film focuses on Sky’s efforts to keep her two cubs alive amid the dangers of the vast Alaskan landscape. Viewers watch the first year of the cubs’ lives, witnessing their encounters with other bears, run-ins with deadly wolves and first salmon-catching lessons.
John C. Reilly lends his voice to the “Bears” narrative and to the bears themselves. He cheekily narrates the animals’ thoughts with dialogue that is well-written, smart and funny.
The film captures a whole new side of bears, a side that most people have never seen before. It is truly amazing to see the natural interactions between these animals. At many points during the film, Sky and her cubs are threatened by nature, and it is breathtaking to see how quickly their instincts kick in.
Stylized as a typical narrative film but shot like a documentary, the film’s cinematography is gorgeous, with aerial shots of the Alaskan mountains and shoreline and intimate close-ups of the wild animals. These techniques portray the vastness of the world while juxtaposing the intimacy of the bears’ family.
The footage within the film is pieced together to create a narrative that flows just as well as that of a fiction film. There is a story arc and satisfying end to the journey that shows just how much the cubs have learned in their first year.
Like with any great film, music is an essential element. The “Bears” soundtrack envelops all the senses, with sounds that put viewers right into the action, whether it is a falling avalanche, a vast mountain pass, a group of grizzly bears catching salmon in a stream or a mother and her cubs resting in a densely wooded forest.
Although “Bears” is a film designed for the younger audience demographic, Disneynature has created a fascinating movie for the whole family. By giving viewers a basic understanding of the world’s vastness, the film may inspire them to go on adventures of their own.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, April 15 print edition. Laura Wolford is a staff writer. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.