Brother Bear

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Brother Bear is the forty-third film in the Disney animated feature canon. It was produced by Walt Disney Feature Animation Florida and released on November 1, 2003, by Walt Disney Pictures and Buena Vista Distribution. In it, an Inuit boy pursues a bear in revenge for a battle with it he provoked in which his oldest brother is killed. He tracks down the bear down and kills it, but the Spirits, angered by this needless death, change the boy into a bear himself as punishment. Originally titled Bears, it was the third and final Disney animated feature produced primarily by the Feature Animation studio at Disney-MGM Studios in Orlando, Florida; the studio was shut down not long after the release of this film in March 2004.

Contents

Plot

Long ago in a post-ice age land when mammoths still live, there are three brothers named Kenai, Denahi, and Sitka. Denahi, the middle brother, and Sitka, the oldest, work hard. They think Kenai should work more and play less. Kenai, the youngest, hates bears because they fight for the same food, overtake the land, ransack his village and ruin his coming-of-age ceremony. Each brother is given his own totem: Sitka, the eagle of guidance; Denahi, the wolf of wisdom; and Kenai, the bear of love. Kenai scorns the totem he has been given, believing that love is not brave or noble.

When Sitka is killed in a battle with a bear that Kenai provoked, Tanana, the tribal shaman, officiates a funeral rite for Sitka. Suddenly Kenai ignores the village teachings of brotherhood with animals and sets out to hunt the bear for revenge and eventually kills it. To punish Kenai for this hateful action, the Great Spirits, represented by the spirit of Sitka, transform him into a bear. Unfortunately his other brother, who was pursuing Kenai to stop him, doesn't realize what has happened. He finds Kenai's torn clothes and believes the bear took his brother's life. In grief, he vows revenge.

Disoriented and barely escaping Denahi's wrath by falling into the river, Kenai awakens on the shore and in the presence of Tanana, who eases him through his initial shock at his change. Although she cannot understand his bear speech, she advises Kenai to find where the lights touch the mountain so that he can ask Sitka's spirit to change him back, and then she disappears without giving him directions. To Kenai's surprise, he finds he can talk with the other animals - but the only animals who are willing to talk to him are two stupid sibling moose, Rutt and Tuke, who are more interested in cracking jokes at Kenai's claims to be a man than helping him. Along the way, Kenai meets a talkative, pesky bear cub named Koda, who claims to know the way to the salmon run where the bears gather to fish and where the lights seem to hug the mountain.

What follows is a journey in which Kenai, when not dodging Denahi who is now hunting him, grows rather fond of the irrepressible Koda who he learns shares his spiritual beliefs. This in turn puts his hatred of bears in a stark perspective that forces him to reconsider, especially when he learns that Koda sees humans as the same sort of dangerous monsters as he himself once believed bears to be. This culminates when they finally reach the salmon run and Kenai has the awkward experience of being surrounded by bears. Yet, the bears quickly accept him and he in turn learns about the loving community of these animals that makes his hate seem so foolish even as he learns to enjoy himself.

This contentment is shattered when Koda tells the story of his separation from his mother. Kenai is aghast to realize the story is about the fight he and his brothers had with the killer bear. It immediately dawns on Kenai that he is the one that killed Koda's mother. In shame at profoundly harming a cub he has grown to love, Kenai flees the gathering, but Koda follows and asks what's wrong. With great remorse, Kenai confesses that he is responsible for the death of Koda's mother. Koda is distraught and runs away in grief, loss, and betrayal while ignoring Kenai's apologies and pleas for forgiveness.

With nothing left to keep him with the bears, Kenai scales the mountain to contact the spirit of Sitka. Koda mourns alone, but then has a chance encounter with the squabbling Tuke and Rutt who reconcile because of their brotherhood, which makes Koda realize the importance of his relationship with Kenai. Meanwhile, Denahi finally tracks down Kenai; in the ensuing fight, Koda, having forgiven Kenai, rushes in to help at a critical moment in the fight. Kenai struggles to protect Koda and is willing to sacrifice himself to save the cub, much as Koda's mother had done; with this selfless act, Kenai shows the spirits that he has profoundly changed for the better and they allow Sitka to change Kenai back into a human.

Yet, while Kenai revels at his regained humanity, he realizes that he can no longer talk with Koda, a cub who is now orphaned yet again by the bear he had begun to accept as a brother. Rather than abandon Koda, Kenai asks Sitka to change him back into a bear. With Denahi's support, the pleased Sitka grants his brother's request while Koda enjoys one last moment with his mother bear's spirit.

The film ends with Kenai as a bear, accompanied by Koda, being welcomed back by his tribe and pressing his pawprint to the cave wall which bears the handprints of countless generations of other tribe members who also fulfilled the calling of their totem animals.

Critical reaction

The reaction from film reviewers was severely mixed with many panning the film as a retread of older Disney films like The Lion King and the 20th Century Fox film, Ice Age (although Brother Bear began production before Ice Age did), while others defended the film as a legitimate variation of the theme.

The American reaction to the film revealed a sharp difference of opinion between Christian fundamentalists and the rest of society. The fundamentalist reviewers attacked the film as immoral for presenting a story world of divine spirits and promoting the idea of the fundamental spiritual equality of humanity and animals which was at odds with the Bible. On the other hand, The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops praised the film as extolling a philosophy similar to St. Francis of Assisi. In addition, secular critics who liked the film praised its story as a very moral work with messages about forgiveness, empathy, and brotherhood.

Of note to many critics and viewers was the use of the film's aspect ratio as a storytelling device. The film begins at a standard widescreen aspect ratio of 1.75:1 (similar to the 1.85:1 ratio common in U.S. cinema or the 1.78:1 ratio of HDTV), while Kenai is a human; in addition, the film's art direction and color scheme are grounded in realism. After Kenai transforms into a bear twenty-four minutes into the picture, the film itself transforms as well: to a CinemaScope aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and towards brighter, more fanciful colors and slightly more caricatured art direction.

Box office

One would judge, by overlooking Disney's heavily lackluster marketing for the film, that the studio had low expectations for it after the spectacular financial disappointment of Treasure Planet. Although amassing just $85,336,277 in its theatrical run, a rather average amount of money, it was not a flop by any measure, especially considering what little marketing the movie received even on children's television channels. The Orlando, Florida animation studio where the film was animated had been shuttered shortly after the release of the film, as an extreme example of dire assumptions.

However, Brother Bear went on to prove to be a big hit around the world, amassing $164,700,000, more in worldwide box office than fellow Walt Disney Feature Animation Florida film Lilo and Stitch, bringing its worldwide total to a pretty massive $250,036,277 currently. In addition, its DVD release was successful as well with the film being a strong seller. It has to date amassed more than 165 million sales on DVD and VHS sales alone.

Voice cast

The movie stars the voices of:

Songs

  • "Great Spirits", performed by Tina Turner
  • "On My Way", performed by Phil Collins
  • "On My Way (Koda's Version)", performed by Koda (Jeremy Suarez)
  • "No Way Out (Theme)", performed by Phil Collins
  • "Look Through My Eyes", performed by Phil Collins
  • "Transformation", performed by Phil Collins
  • "Transformation", performed by the Bulgarian Women's Choir
  • "Welcome", performed by Phil Collins
  • Score by Mark Mancina


Trivia

  • The film was released on November 1 2003, a Saturday. This was done to avoid opening the film on a Halloween Friday, as it was believed that kids would rather trick-or-treat than go to the movies.

External links

bg:Братът на мечката fr:Frre des ours zh:熊的传说

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