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Bear Story (Historia de un oso) is a 2014 animated short film from Chile, directed by Gabriel Osorio Vargas.

A bear lives alone in a melancholy little apartment. Pictures and scattered knick-knacks make it clear that the bear once lived with a wife and son but the bear's family is no longer present. The bear is making a living by carving an intricate clockwork puppet diorama, which he displays on street corners. A child pays to watch his puppet show, which shows the tragic story of how the bear was separated from his family.

This short film is notorious for winning the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film, the first Latin American animated work to win an Oscar and the first Academy Award period for Chile.


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Tropes:

  • Adult Fear: Evil men knocking down the door to your home and taking you away while your spouse and children helplessly watch. You spend a long amount of time in poor and inhumane conditions where you could easily die if your captors choose to make you suffer even more or if you try to escape. And even if you do successfully escape, everyone you knew and loved may be gone, having left either to save themselves or also having been taken.
  • Allegory: The whole cartoon is an allegory for how families were separated from each other by the kidnappings and disappearances perpetrated in Chile by the dictatorial regime of Augusto Pinochet. The bear is inspired by the story of the director's grandfather, who was snatched away from his family and eventually exiled.
  • Circus of Fear: The animals are slaves at a circus, driven by whip-cracking circus performers.
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  • The Faceless: The faces of the mooks from the circus that kidnap the animals are never shown. Only their glowing eyes.
  • Happy Ending: The bear comes to his house to find his family hidden and alive as well. This only happens in the bear's tale told in the puppet show; real life is another story.
  • Lighter and Softer: In-Universe. In the bear's puppet show, the bear is embraced by his wife and son inside their apartment. As the opening of the cartoon makes clear, the bear did not find his family and is living alone.
  • Made a Slave: Goons from the circus come charging into an apartment complex and kidnap many of the animals there—a monkey, a giraffe, the bear, others. All are enslaved to the circus and forced to become performing animals.
  • Manly Tears: The bear breaks down and sobs when coming home to find the room abandoned.
  • Mime and Music-Only Cartoon: No dialogue.
  • Organ Grinder: A variant. Instead of playing organ music and having a monkey, the man plays a clockwork puppet show.
  • Stop Motion Animation: In the style of an animatronic puppet show.
  • A Taste of the Lash: The circus people literally crack the whip on the animals to get them to perform.
  • Tragic Keepsake: The bear keeps a photo locket of him and his family.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Where is the bear's family? What happened to them? We'll never know.
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