Reviewed by GREG KING
Director: Guillaume Vincent.
The circle of life? I can barely constrain myself from making some grizzly puns at the expense of this beautiful looking but unbearably dull documentary looking at a year in the life cycle of brown bears in the beautiful but remote wilderness of the Kamchatka Peninsula in Siberia.
Kamchatka is a place full of contrasts, with pristine waters, active volcanoes and snow covered mountains. We see a mother bear and her two cubs emerge from a cave following a long winter hibernation. The two cubs frolic and explore while the mother keeps a watchful eye on them. The bears also fish the stream for salmon, a vital supply of protein which they need to build up to prepare their bodies for the next long winter hibernation.
Land Of The Bears is an up close and personal look at the bears in their natural environment and their interaction with the delicate ecosystem. But some of the amazing shots will have you wondering how the filmmakers were able to capture them without disturbing the animals. There is some immersive underwater cinematography that follows the salmon as they swim upstream to lay their eggs. But some of the shots of the bears ripping the flesh off the fish is a little brutal. And these scenes become repetitive after a while.
Land Of The Bears is the first feature film for veteran documentary writer Guillaume Vincent (The Besieged Fortress, etc) as a director. It has been shot in 3D and there are some beautiful images captured by cinematographer Lionel Jan Kerguistel.
The French version was narrated by Oscar winner Marion Cotillard, while the English version on release locally was narrated by David Gasman. But the narration is rather dull and pedestrian and doesn’t offer much in the way of insight.
But despite a relatively short 87-minute running time, this documentary is fairly dull and repetitive as it spends about a third of its time watching the bears fish the rivers. It quickly outstays its welcome. This is the kind of thing that Marlin Perkins used to do so much more efficiently in his half hour long 1960s television series Wild Kingdom, which was far more enjoyable and informative. Overall Land Of The Bears is a fairly dull documentary, the sort of wildlife film that is usually the preserve of television or IMAX.