Land of the Bears - Review

Guillaume Vincent's directorial debut Land of the Bears is an impressive documentary set in the pristine wilderness of the Kamchatka, Russia. An almost magical land; unaltered by mankind and ruled by 20,000 brown bears. The region endures winters which last up to eight months, which the bears hibernate through. But once summer rolls around, man these bears spring to life and descend upon a nearby network of rivers to gorge on thousands of salmon which swarm to the region to lay their eggs and ultimately perish. Perhaps a touch circle-of-life esque, but easily forgiven since the visuals are so jaw dropping gorgeous.

The film follows the escapades of five brown bears of various ages as they emerge from their slumber and seek out their salmon buffet. We meet a three year male who's experiencing his first summer without his mother, a 600kg twelve year old male and a mother with her two adorable cubs. Through a series of montages we observe the different approaches to making the most of summer by the various bears take. The three year old is rather inexperienced whereas the older bears possess an immense amount of patience and skill at hunting and preparing for the long winter which is looming right around the corner. The film also shows the struggles shown by the females who have to hunt not only for themselves but must feed their young and ward off other bears who are keen to poach their fishies.

This is easily one of the most satisfying 3D experiences I’ve had for some time. The cinematography maximises the 3D effects through the use of slower tracking shots of the bears and ample fixed camera angles of the bears going about their business. I've found 3D seems to get lost in the mix when it’s used in conjunction with rapid movements and multiple objects on screen, which thankfully this film avoids for the most part. Trust me you haven’t seen the full effects of 3D until you watch a 600kg brown bear rolling around in a ditch thoroughly enjoying his first moments of summer after a long sleep,  because it’s honestly just downright adorable.

Land of the Bears is definitely worth making the effort to get out to see. I wish we were were treated to documentaries of this calibre more often. The films opens this Thursday at Dendy Newtown and Dendy Quays. If you see the film and agree or disagree with my thoughts feel free to drop a line below or come over to our Facebook page to join in the fun.

- Stu


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