From black bears in Montana to polar bears in the arctic, Bears features a fresh view of these powerful, majestic and often misunderstood animals in the full glory of their natural habitat,... See full summary »
On the one hand, this movie focuses on showing the unfamiliar, the exotic, the gigantic, the violent, the frightening. Eating and being eaten is among the most frequent activities of the animals in the movie. On the other hand, many images have been selected according to the connotations and emotions they might evoke in the modern urban viewer. Often, these connotations have little to do with the animals being shown or with their behavior. For example, two converging groups of crabs on the sea-floor make you think of attacking armies, and the lonely ice bear passing a gap between two icebergs certainly won't think of a door, a door that *you* are supposed to think of as marking a choice of paths of historical importance. The common aspect of these two pervasive aspects, of the exotic and of the symbolic, is the entertaining effect on the viewer, and that's probably what the movie is ultimately aiming at.
After starting from the explicit question "what are the oceans?", almost nothing is explained, so it's somewhat misleading to call this a documentary. You learn very little about where the animals you see live, how they live, and what is important for them. You learn nothing about how marine life works as a whole, as a set of ecosystems, so the topical question remains unanswered. Even the occasional facts stated remain unexplained - e.g., you learn that most species of large whales travel distances of several thousand kilometers twice a year, but you get no idea why, let alone why some feed near the poles and others in warm waters, just to provide one typical example.
What you learn about ecology and the protection of our environment is mostly old news. Species get extinct, mankind has caused the rate of extinction to grow a lot, diversity is important for ecological stability. Pollution, global warming and industrial fishing contribute to the various problems. Sure, no doubt, but no surprise either.
The film-makers explicitly express their desire that mankind should stop, or at least reduce, the havoc it's causing to wildlife and to our environment. But somehow the style they turned their movie belies their intention. It is well-known by now that you tend to regard with respect and to protect efficiently what you really know: Intimacy is required to care, intellectual understanding is required to find the proper means. This movie gives you neither. The fascination of the exotic and the technical brilliance of the images is not enough. At best it might serve as a teaser to learn more, but that's not what usually happens. When you are shown the exotic, deliberately shown as exotic as possibly, you stare at it in wonder, then get on with your own life.
All the same, the movie is clearly worth viewing, simply for the stunning, beautiful images.
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