Bear, The (1989): Jean-Jacques Annaud Compelling, Oscar-Nominated Tale of Bears

Tri-Star (French production)

Jean-Jacques Annaud directed this unusually compelling tale of bears, living in the wilderness, seen, for a change not from a white man’s perspective, but from the bears’ themselves point of view.

Based on the novel King Grizzly by James Oliver, “The Bear” benefits immensely from the imagery of the genius cinematographer Philippe Rousselot, and Oscar-nominated editing by Noelle Boisson, who assmebled the various footage elements into a coherent and engaging story.

Well-trained bruins should be commended for their remarkably emotionally effective “performances,” helped by gorgeous cinematography and poignant editing; in some sequences, the director used animated models.

The story, but not the technical and production values, is Disney-like, centering on an infant bear cub (Douce the Bear) who witnesses the death of his mother in a rockslide.  As a result, he is forced to set out to fend for himself.

In the ensuing adventure, which is scary as well as touching, the young bear encounters a giant grizzly (Bart the Bear), who at first cannot stand company of the young bear.

Things change, when the grizzly is ambushed by two hunters, Bill (Jack Wallace) and Tom (Tcheky Karyo), after an altercation with their pack animals.

As the injured beast cleans his wounds, the young bear comes to his aid. However, Bill and Tom have sworn revenge on the grizzly, and when they capture the young bear, it lures the giant back into the hunters’ camp.

Most suitable feature for all members of the family.


Oscar Nominations: 1

Film Editing: Noelle Boisson

Oscar Awards: None

Oscar Context:

The winner of the Film Editing Oscar was Oliver Stone’s “Born on the Fourth of July.”



Rating: PG.

Running time: 92 Minutes.

Directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud.

Screenplay by James Oliver Curwood and Gérard Brach

Released: October 25, 1989.

DVD: March 7, 2000


Douce the Bear as Youk

Bart the Bear as Kaar

Tcheky Karyo as Tom

Jack Wallace as Bill

Doc the Bear as Kaar

Griz the Bear.

André Lacombe as Dog Handler