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Film / The Bear

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The Bear, (also known as L'Ours) is a 1988 adventure film directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud (who would years later do Two Brothers). It is adapted from the novel The Grizzly King.

After his mother is killed in a freak accident, an orphan bear cub hooks up with a wounded Kodiak bear as they try to dodge human hunters.

Not to be confused with Bear, which is a direct-to-video horror film that also features bears; The Bear (2022), which is about a restaurant; or with The Bear, a well-known gay archetype.

The film uses the following tropes:

  • All There in the Manual: The adult bear is called Kaar and the cub is Youk.
  • Bears Are Bad News: Averted with the cub, but played straight with the hunters.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Kaar shows up at the end to save Youk from the cougar.
  • Canada, Eh?: The story takes place in the Canadian province of British Columbia.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: After losing his mother, and spending the whole movie running from the hunters (plus one cougar), Youk is reunited with Kaar. They find a small cave and hunker down to hibernate as winter sets in, and they'll live to fight another day.
  • Family-Unfriendly Death: The death of the cub's mother as well as several other animals throughout.
  • Family-Unfriendly Violence: While a majority of the violence is offscreen, the film tends to get quite gruesome despite its PG rating, showing off mangled horses and a particularly violent battle between Kaar and the hunter's dogs.
  • The Film of the Book: The film is based on a book from 1916.
  • Gentle Giant: The Kodiak towards the cub. The hunters however...
  • Green Aesop: The ending gives one.
  • Mercy Kill: One of the hunters has to put down their horse, as well as their dog.
  • Mushroom Samba: When the young cub eats some mushrooms, we are given a trippy sequence.
  • Nightmare Sequence: The poor cub gets one when he has nightmares of frogs.
  • Papa Bear: When the cub is being attacked by a cougar, the adult bear shows up and drives away the cougar by roaring at it.
  • Scared of What's Behind You: The cougar is not scared of the cub but of the adult bear behind him.
  • Scenery Censor: Kaar mates with a female bear and the scene is obscured by the trees.
  • Silence Is Golden: Aside from the hunters' scenes, the rest of the movie has no dialogue.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: While the friendship between the bear cub and adult bear is fictional (that the makers know of), the part where the hunter is confronted by the adult bear only for the bear to eventually turn and walk away is apparently based on a real experience of the original novel's author, James Curwood. Curwood had been an adamant bear hunter until he one day dropped his rifle on a hunt and got confronted by a bear, but for reasons he never understood, the bear let him live. The event affected Curwood so much, he stopped being a hunter and become a supporter of wildlife conservation instead.