DOCUMENTARY; 1hr 26min
DIRECTED BY: Guillaume Vincent
The volcanic Kamchatka Peninsula — turn right at Siberia and keep going and going — is, narrator Daniel Gasman informs us, “a lost land, far from men.” (The French original, Terre des Ours, is narrated by Marion Cotillard.) Far from men, yes, but by no means deserted. Some 15,000 to 20,000 bears hibernate there through icebound winters, hunkered down in solitary dens that are like studio apartments for wildlife. Director Guillaume Vincent follows the fortunes of a few. A four-year-old makes his grunty, instinctual way towards the steamily luxuriant Valley of Geysers. A mama copes as mamas do with her two, tussling cubs. Also out and about is a 12-year-old, 600-kilogram male for whom every day is leisurely and fat.
In their keyhole lensing of the untamed, nature documentarians are the most patient and perceptive of men: Lionel Jan Kerguistel’s pellucid cinematography is a front-row insight into the perversely cuddlesome “combination of power and gentleness” that is a romping furball bear. Comical, menacing, loveable and majestic, the big guys are natural-born superstars, and Vincent and his ever-ready crew revel in their close-ups.