We are in the 1920s. Two young tiger cubs live in what seems to be the tiger version of theGarden of Eden. Then Guy Pearce comes along to ruin everything (though he will subsequentlyrepent). He kills the cubs’ parents, and sells one cub to the circus. The other is also captured andwinds up as the beloved pet of Raoul, the colonial governor’s son. The tension resides in whetherthe brothers will eventually reunite, and will they be allowed to live their lives in peace?
< ...>Leaving aside the magic mushroom sequence, The Bear generally avoidedanthropomorphising its main character. Jean-Jacques Annaud shows none of the restraint of hisearlier film here, and these tigers, though gorgeously photographed, are really humans indisguise, not wild animals (and predators, to boot). Then again, this isn’t meant to be adocumentary. In any event, this is a very beautiful film.
The audio is superb, and plunges viewers into the midst of the Cambodian jungle from theopening second. The environmental effect is damn near absolute, and the placement of the effectsis very strong. The music sounds just fine, too, but the surround is so good that the music isalmost a distraction.
This is one of those pictures for which the word “lush” was invented. The colours aresumptuous, and the image is blessed with an extraordinary degree of detail and sharpness. Theblacks are a perfect complement to the colours, and the contrasts are astounding. Jaw-dropping stuff.
Annaud’s commentary is informative, elegant and articulate — far more so than many bycommentators for English is a first language. Annaud has also penned a set diary, which ispresented in both English and French. The other extras are broken down into three categories:“Fun with Tigers,” “The Cast,” and “Production.” The first has “Call of the Wild,” which isnothing more than a montage of cast and tigers roaring. “Wild About Tigers” is a half-hourdocumentary. The other featurettes scattered between the other two categories are really littlechunks of one larger piece, but they cannot be viewed as a complete whole. Everything fromphotographing the tigers to FX to costume design is dealt with, in brief fashion. There are alsostoryboard comparisons, and some DVD-ROM features. The menu’s main screen is scored.
The film looks good, but isn’t a classic, and the extras are copious, but not in-depth.Technically a stellar effort, however.
Special Features List
- Director’s Commentary
- “Wild About Tigers” Documentary
- Director’s Diary
- “Tiger Tech” Featurette
- “Tiger Trainers” Featurette
- “Location Scouting” Featurette
- “Costume Design” Featurette
- Storyboards Comparison
- “Tiger Brothers” Featurette
- DVD-ROM Features