Kenai, a man who resents bears after a fight with one kills his older brother, is turned into a bear so he can see life from a different perspective. He is visited by the spirit of his older brother, and is told that, if he wishes to be changed back into a human, he must travel to the place where the lights touch the Earth, in other words, the Northern Lights. Fueled by hope, Kenai sets off on his long journey, and, along the way, encounters a younger bear, Koda, who is a chatterbox and a fun-loving spirit; Koda is trying to find his way back to his home, the Salmon Run, which, coincidentally, is right next to where the lights touch the Earth. Koda and Kenai team up, but are hunted by Kenai's other brother, Denahi, who fears that the bear has killed Kenai as well. Along the way, the two bears meet other friends, including two moose, some rams, and some mammoths, with whom they hitch a ride. However, Kenai discovers that he likes being a bear, and realizes that humans aren't only ... Written by
The painterly background styling is inspired by the landscapes of Albert Bierstadt. Then-Disney CEO Michael Eisner, a collector of Bierstadt's work, lent the animators some of his own paintings to study. See more »
While Kenai is falling of the ledge before he goes into the ice cave, his rope completely disappears. See more »
Denahi as an Old Man:
This is a story from long ago, when the great mammoths still roamed our lands. It's the story of my two brothers and me. When the three of us were young, we were taught that the world is full of magic. The source of this magic is the ever-changing lights that dance across the sky. The shaman woman of our village told us that these lights are the spirits of our ancestors, and that they had the power to make changes in our world. Small things become big. Winter turns to spring. One ...
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The name of Bruce Johnson, the lead animator for the moose character Tuke, is spelled "Broose". See more »
Having (I think) seen all the Disney animated features, I would have to say that 'Brother Bear' is the finest Disney feature since 'The Fox and the Hound' - which is to say the best around 25 years. It's a shame, and a bit ironic, that this sudden return to form should happen now, after a string of 90's movies which were nearly all good, but rarely brilliant; and on the cusp of the death of the classical 'hand drawn' style of animation from the people who invented the animated feature.
At first I had misgivings. Particularly when I heard Inuit using valley girl phrases - but these reservations disappear quickly enough (as indeed, do the Inuit characters).
Briefly, 'Brother Bear' is about a young Inuit man who rejects his totem ('the Bear of Love'), and goes so far as to kill a bear which he somewhat erroneously blames for the death of his friend. He is then magically transformed into a bear, and the rest of the film... doesn't really matter at this stage: I don't want to spoil it.
There are only a few minor faults which prevent this from scoring a 10: the moose and ram characters are really pretty dispensable, but they don't take up much screen time. Koda, the bear cub, elicited a bit of an 'oh, no' response from at first, but he grows on you fast.
The animation, as you would expect, is well ahead of the field (at least in the 'classical' style). While it isn't perhaps quite as eye-popping and panoramic as 'The Lion King', I think this only goes to show that good storytelling will win out over superficial eye-candy covering a third-hand script.
The final scenes of the movie are genuinely surprising (there is a sort of stock surprise ending, followed by something I really didn't see coming), and at the same time, it's genuine lump in the throat stuff - something Disney seemed to have been a bit shy about lately with films like 'Atlantis'. They shouldn't be. They do it well.
I've enjoyed nearly all of Disney's prolific output of the past ten years, but this is the pick of the bunch, IMO. It's not perfect, but if this had been the film which Disney's animation dept had bowed out with, it would have been a fine swansong.
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