Wednesday, April 5, 2017

(Brother) Bears that Share

Brother Bear takes place in post Ice Age North America centered around a Native American tribe that believes strongly in the fact that everyone and everything derives from nature. Kenai, the youngest of two brothers, grows up hating bears and is quickly shocked and angry when the totem he receives (in his ceremony of adulthood) is a bear, symbolizing love. In an act of hate, Kenai goes to attack a bear. In the efforts to stop him, one of Kenai’s older brothers dies fighting the bear. To avenge his older brother’s death, Kenai goes out and successfully kills the bear. Kenai wakes up to find that he has been transformed into his totem, the one thing he hates most, a bear. He becomes friends with a baby bear named Koda and they go on an adventure to the top of the mountain (where Kenai hopes to transforms back into a human). Along this journey, they become like family and Kenai discovers that Koda was the cub of the bear he hunted as a human. He also finds that he is being hunted by his only living (human) brother. With many bumps in the road Kenai and Koda reach the top of the mountain, Kenai transforms back to a human and discovers his totem of love. He chooses to turn back into a bear to help Koda through his life as his brother. Although this children’s film has many scenes of violence and aggressiveness, Brother Bear educates kids on grief, acts of selflessness and honesty,  and the importance of family.

This film expresses its lessons primarily through implicit messages. Along Kenai’s journey you discover that although he was only violent towards the bear because of grief, Koda was happy and positive through his grief. Koda wanted to find new friends and start over despite his loss. The audience is bound to notice the importance of love and honestly throughout the film, but it never is explicitly stated. An explicit message in this movie happens when Kenai discovers he should stay by Koda’s side and be his older brother. He tells everyone the importance of Koda needing family and he discovers what love is.

Brother Bear teaches children how to deal with grief. Kenai is punished for his negative actions towards losing his brother, and Koda eventually is rewarded for the love he shows after losing his mother. Loss and death is an important lesson for children to learn. Because death and loss is something everyone eventually needs to deal with. This makes this aspect of the film both leftist and right winged. This is also true for Brother Bear’s lessons on selflessness, honesty and family. These important lessons are viable for all children and families to talk about in their households. The aspect of this film that is leftist is the story of a Native American tribe. This film gives some incite on important aspects of Native American religion that you could most likely not find in right winged movies. It also tends to focus on the importance of not hunting and how detrimental that could be. This could be put in the leftist category due to the hunting being more of a sport played by conservative viewers. 

Although Brother Bear is a beautiful film that teaches children about love and family, there is a great deal of violence throughout the film. Kenai murders Koda’s mom at the beginning of the movie; also, there is plenty of rough play between the brothers out of anger and frustrating. Along with these instances, there are many parts in the movie where two characters of the same species are bickering and fighting with each other. It appears that no character every wins these arguments, but there is often disrespect between characters. Two moose are constantly telling the other they're idiotic while two rams are constantly running into each other head first and bickering. These actions could possibly make children think that rough play is okay and can start violence in the household. (Link to final Scene) 

Brother Bear teaches children about loss, love, and family. Although there is violence and some aggression the lessons that it teaches outweigh the negatives. This film is important for children of all ages to view and understand. Philip Collins also sings throughout the whole film, making it a film for all ages to enjoy and learn from. However, because of the violence in this film, I rate this film four cheesy chips. 


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