Opening 28 Dec 2006
Many documentaries have captured animals in the wilderness but none have managed to anthropomorphize wild beasts quite like this one. As seen from cameras placed under the snow into a polar bear maternity den, Momma Bear happily gives birth to twins, each weighing about a pound. The babies contentedly nurse until spring when they emerge to search for food. Momma Bear hunts down baby seals: Cut to Momma Bear sniffing the snow and pounding the ice with her powerful front paws; cut to the baby seal below, whimpering and breathing heavily in an ice cocoon, fearfully holding its breathe for a critical moment; now cut back to Momma Bear pounding the ice; baby seal breathing heavier lets out a frightened whine. Now Momma Bear triumphantly cracks through the ice, dragging the screaming seal with her sharp teeth. Intimate animal sounds such as sniffs, grunts and exhalations are expertly edited to achieve the most human characteristics. Underwater, music is used such as a high pitched voice set to the fluttering fins of deep, dark ocean fish.
Filmed over a three-year period mainly in North America by several crews working at the same time, this documentary follows many inhabitants of the Artic as they struggle for survival against nature. Nature, however, is not the only predator. As a polar bear desperately searches for ice in an endless ocean, the narrator speaks of global warming and the need to protect the earth’s artic regions before such animals become extinct. The French narration (with German subtitles) is superfluous; the animals speak quite eloquently for themselves. Be sure to grab on to this animal tale directed with empathy by Stéphane Millière and Thierry Piantanida with Jean Lemire. (Mary Nyiri)