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A Bearable Brother Bear
(3/8/06)


A response to A Bearable Brother Bear:

Hello.

I've read your review of "Brother Bear" and I must say it's the "best negative review" I've seen. You give actual reasons where other people merely bash the movie.

Anyway, the reason of my email is trying to "redeem some of the bad points". I may be blinded a bit by the fact that I really liked the movie, but hey :)

(please forgive any bad spelling and that stuff)

No native actors voicing the characters: Um, well, you're right about this one :D Sadly, the accent probably would have been lost in dubbed movies so this doesn't matter to me very much *sigh* Ah, forget the last sentence, I was just complaining.

Simplification of Inuit religion: Well, I don't know anything about it, but maybe trying to detail it too much could have "oversaturate" the viewers, being the main audience kids or people who don't know a thing about Inuit culture and to whom anything *looking* right is acceptable (I can't picture many anthropologists going to watch animated movies :P ).

The Bear of Love: The choice of animals and traits seems rather arbitrary. They probably chose some well known or "typical tribal" animals and made them symbolize what they felt suited better (anyway, you say that eagles are associated with "vision" and wolves with "cunning", at least those are somewhat similar, unlike "love" for the bear).

Kenai upset with his totem: Kenai doesn't reject his totem because he thinks bears are dumb. He does it mainly because of two things: first, it's a bear, an animal he for some reason hates (why does he hate them enters in the wild realm of speculation); and second, its the totem of love, whereas he would have preferred something more "epic" (you know, courage and stuff).

He says his totem is stupid because bears are monsters who don't love anyone (again, we could speculate of child traumas and bad experiences with bears, because no animal actually "loves" anyone). Probably if the totem had symbolized strenght or fierceness, he woulld still be reluctant because of it being a bear. The point of giving him this totem was like a double slap to his ego.

Revenge against animals acting naturally: Kenai was too upset to think about the fact that a bear (or any other animal) would have naturally taken the fish. But it was also a natural reaction from him to dump his frustration on the bear when he found the broken basket (one could argue that it was quite stupid from him to throw rocks at a bear of that size, it's not like the "thief" was a dog or the like). He solely intended to recover the basket, angering the bear was just his second mistake.

Denahi pursuing Kenai: I think nowhere in the film states that Denahi thinks of Kenai-bear of being the same they fought when Sitka died. He just saw a bear and his brother's clothes torn apart, so he assumed the most logical explanation anyone would have: that *this bear* had killed his brother.

Kenai disliking Koda: Probably beacuse he was a bear, and maybe because he was friendly and not ruthless as he assumed bears were. It's no like he wanted to kill the cub, not even tried to give him the slip (yes, he was reluctant to let him come along but he didn't seem to put too much effort in not letting him come). He probably thought Koda was an annoying know-it-all, and Kenai did not wanted to know anything about bears, he only wanted to arrive the mountain where lights touch the earth as soon as possible.

When he realized that Koda was like a little brother, things changed (Predictable? Well, it's a Disney movie, it has to end in a good way. At least there is a little plot twist at the end). Or maybe he didn't dislike Koda as much as he thought to begin with.

Pan-animal brotherhood: Well, I don't think it's necessary to show animals killing animals. Actually, the only death necessary to advance the plot is the one of Koda's mom (about the salmon-catching, probably was a better idea than having the bears just lying around). I suppose it's not much more absurd than the pan-animal brotherhood in "The Lion King", where every creature goes to greet their newborn-future killer ;D

And animals were afraid of Kenai-bear. Until the mammoth ride :D I actually found that part funny (the mammoths looked like they didn't even care of anything at all). That scene cries of comic relief artistic license.

The lesson Kenai had to learn: Dunno, to tie properly a fish basket? Just kidding. Maybe it was not to prejudge. Maybe that is actually the meaning of the "love totem", to know before you form an opinion on anyone, more than to "deliver love at random" (flowers included). Or maybe I'm just pulling things out of nowhere.

Sorry for having made you waste your time reading my rant. It's that your critic was the only one I found worthy of discussion.

Again, you made real good points, and neither the movie is perfect (it works to me). I just wanted to give my opinion about it and hope I made myself clear without messing many things (I don't pretend you to change your mind nor to accept my view).

Sooooo... good bye :)

Alicia

Rob's reply
>> Simplification of Inuit religion: Well, I don't know anything about it, but maybe trying to detail it too much could have "oversaturate" the viewers <<

I'd say they not only oversimplified it but bastardized it. The idea of choosing and venerating an animal totem would be akin to a Christian's choosing and venerating a saint. While (some) Christians may do something like that, it's not central to their religion.

>> The Bear of Love: The choice of animals and traits seems rather arbitrary. They probably chose some well known or "typical tribal" animals <<

"Typical," or stereotypical? <grin>

>> Kenai upset with his totem: Kenai doesn't reject his totem because he thinks bears are dumb. <<

I believe he said something about bears being dumb. But I don't remember the details.

>> Denahi pursuing Kenai: I think nowhere in the film states that Denahi thinks of Kenai-bear of being the same they fought when Sitka died. <<

I don't know if it was stated, but I think it was implied.

>> He just saw a bear and his brother's clothes torn apart, so he assumed the most logical explanation anyone would have: that *this bear* had killed his brother. <<

Didn't Sitka's sacrifice and Kenai's transformation come in quick succession? What do you imagine Denahi was thinking? That big gray bear they were chasing somehow disappeared, and a smaller brown bear just happened upon the scene and killed his brother? Is there any evidence whatsoever that Denahi wanted or sought revenge against two different bears who (he thought) killed one of his brothers each?

>> I suppose it's not much more absurd than the pan-animal brotherhood in "The Lion King", where every creature goes to greet their newborn-future killer <<

I thought the whole "Circle of Life" thing implicitly recognized that animals had to die to feed other animals. I could imagine herbivores dying willingly, or at least submitting stoically to their fate, according to the laws laid down by the lion kings. It would've happened off-screen, of course, but at least there was some reason to believe it happened. You did see Scar and the hyenas hunting the others, so you believed they were capable of killing.

None of that was evident in Brother Bear. In that sense, it was closer to Winnie the Pooh than to The Lion King.

>> Maybe that is actually the meaning of the "love totem", to know before you form an opinion on anyone, more than to "deliver love at random" (flowers included). <<

Maybe it should've been the bear of judgment.

I think the movie showed Kenai learning more than just to withhold judgment till he had enough information. It showed him learning to love. As I said, that was a lesson he didn't necessarily need, given his loving human family.

>> Again, you made real good points, and neither the movie is perfect (it works to me). I just wanted to give my opinion about it and hope I made myself clear without messing many things (I don't pretend you to change your mind nor to accept my view). <<

You did a good job of explaining (i.e., rationalizing) why some things happened. But you didn't convince me they were plausible rather than implausible, or good rather than bad. Sorry!

Rob


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