The Bear Necessities – 9 great bear scenes in movies | Virgin Media
The Bear Necessities – 9 great bear scenes in movies

The Bear Necessities – 9 great bear scenes in movies

07/06/2016Movies

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Alejandro González Iñárritu's Oscar-winning survival drama The Revenant gained early notoriety for the stunning, two minute long, single-take scene where star Leonardo Di Caprio is attacked (no, not like that, despite what you might have heard) by a grizzly bear and left for dead. The scene is brutal, visceral and horrifyingly realistic, so it comes of something of a surprise to learn that no actual bears were used in the shooting of the scene, with Iñárritu using a combination of state-of-the-art CGI and stuntman Glenn Ennis in a bear suit. Still, real bear or not, the scene is part of a noble tradition of great bear scenes in the movies, so we've rounded up nine of the best.

1. The Edge (1997)

Scripted by David Mamet and directed by Lee Tamahori, survival drama The Edge stars Anthony Hopkins as a billionaire who suspects photographer Bob (Alec Baldwin) is having an affair with his wife (Elle McPherson). Stranded in the Alaskan wilderness after a photo shoot, Charles and Bob are viciously attacked by an enormous grizzly (famous Hollywood bear Bart the Bear) who eats one of their team (Lost's Harold Perrineau), seemingly oblivious to Hopkins spanking its hide with a flaming log. The bear, of course, is a metaphor for male aggression and jealousy, which is made clear when Charles realises Bob intends to kill him in the wilderness.

2. Grizzly Man (2006)

Werner Herzog's riveting and disturbing documentary follows Timothy Treadwell, a failed actor whose obsession with living amongst bears ultimately lead to the tragic death of both himself and his girlfriend, Aime Huguenard – in the film's most chilling scene, a visibly shaken Herzog is shown listening to an audio recording of the fatal attack. Earlier in the film, there's a spot of foreshadowing when a rattled Treadwell witnesses a violent fight between two bears he's nicknamed Mickey and Sergeant Brown, then crouches down near the loser to offer advice: “Mick, you under-estimated Sergeant Brown...man, he turned out to be one heck of a rough bear...”

3. The Bear (1998)

You can take your pick of great bear scenes in Jean-Jacques Annaud's The Bear, because it's pretty much all bears, all the time, with next to no dialogue, despite being based on a 1916 novel (The Grizzly King) by American author James Oliver Curwood. Notable as the film that brought Bart the Bear to Hollywood's attention, the film's highlight comes during a lengthy scene when a cougar stalks a young bear, before a certain familiar figure comes to his rescue.

4.  Furry Vengeance (2010)

An otherwise forgettable, if not outright terrible Brendan Fraser vehicle, Roger Kumble's family comedy is most notable for the scene in which a large bear (not Bart this time – Bart clearly has a better agent) traps Fraser's real-estate developer (who's charged with turning forest land into a residential development) inside a porta-loo and bashes it around so that Fraser gets covered in, well, the porta-loo's contents. Fun fact: the IMDb's first entry under Trivia for Furry Vengeance is “Brendan Fraser admits that he is ashamed of this film”. Note the optimistically jaunty music on the clip below.

5. Legends of the Fall (1994)

Edward Zwick's epic drama stars Anthony Hopkins, Brad Pitt, Aidan Quinn and Henry Thomas as a father and his three sons living in the wilderness of Montana in the early 20th century. The bear-related highlight comes during an epilogue scene, when a voiceover explains that Brad Pitt's character Tristan was killed by a bear (Bart again, in the first of two films he made with Hopkins), thirty years after the main events of the film. Cue a slow-motion, emotively sound tracked scene in which Bart almost bites the head off and then violently tosses around a man in a bear coat, who is very clearly not Brad Pitt.

6.  Anchorman (2004)

Perhaps the best example of a comedy bear attack comes in Adam McKay's Anchorman, when the entire news team (Paul Rudd, Steve Carell and David Koechner) jump into the bear pit at San Diego zoo to save Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell) and Veronica (Christina Applegate) from imminent bear attack. Surreal newsman-on-bear violence ensues. “Hey Ron! I'm riding a furry tractor!” etc.

7. The Great Outdoors (1988) 

Early in his career, Bart the Bear had to do some things he wasn't proud of and one of them was wearing a prosthetic bald wig for his part as Bald-Headed Bear in John Hughes-scripted comedy The Great Outdoors. For his big scene, Bart breaks down the door of a cabin and attacks the man responsible for his baldness, Chet Ripley (John Candy) and his brother-in-law Roman Craig (Dan Aykroyd). After smashing up the house, Bart endures further indignity when a shotgun blast shaves all the hair off his bottom. Still, that's show business.

8.  The Giant of Thunder Mountain (1991)

All you need to know about The Giant of Thunder Mountain is that it features a scene in which Jaws from The Spy Who Loved Me (Richard Kiel) fights off a bear (Bart again – one can only imagine he'd reached a point where he needed the money) with a log and a knife. Kiel co-wrote the screenplay, so he must have really wanted to fight a bear on film.

9.  Grizzly (1976)

William Girdler's 1976 thriller attempted to do for bears what Jaws had done for sharks a year earlier, with a giant bear (played by a bear named Teddy) terrorising tourists in the National Forest. Widely considered a rip-off, it uses several of the same situations and set-ups as Spielberg's film. Hilariously, Girdler opts to use a bear's-eye-view camera for several of the shots, making it look like the bear is a heavy-breathing stalker / serial killer. Oh, and if you go down to the woods today, watch out for flying arms...