Monday, June 12, 2006

The Great White Bear * * * *

This is a National Geographic documentary from 1999 about a mother polar bear and her 2 cubs. It is set on the Svalbard archipelago, which is north of Norway just above the artic circle. This area is strikingly beautiful and the footage covers parts of spring, summer and fall. Although this documentary doesn't have the glitz of, say, March of the Penguins, nor its tight story-line, nonetheless it has some fantastic photography. You'll see the mother as she comes out of the den for the first time, fun scenes of mom and cubs playing ice-plunging in the mushy ice, and underwater footage of the bears swimming. The footage doesn't just focus on polar bears, you'll also learn about and see good footage of actic foxes, guillimonts, bearded seals, walruses, Svalbard reindeer, and artic gulls. The footage of the bearded seals was especially interesting and it includes hard to get and rare underwater footage. I recommend this film for anyone who likes nature photography and/or is interested in the artic.

I saw this with my kids (8 and 5 yrs). There is some old footage of a polar bear being shot, and this was a little too sad for my 5 year old. A seal is killed, but it's not graphic. Some guillimont chicks get eaten by foxes and gulls, but again it's not gruesome. Overall, there were a couple of places that my 5-year old hid under the covers, but it was not nearly as scary as "March of the Penguins" which my 5-year old was unable to watch. My 8-year old (who loves animal documentaries) was entertained throughout and enjoyed that it focused on the many different species living on Svalbard.

Run time: 55min

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