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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Bears

By
Joseph McAleer
Source: Catholic News Service


Sky, Scout and Amber star in a scene from the movie "Bears."
Mother knows best, even in the animal kingdom, as demonstrated in "Bears" (Disneynature), a wildlife documentary about a year in the life of an Alaskan brown bear and her two cubs.

This fifth offering from the Disneynature series, directed by veterans Alastair Fothergill ("Chimpanzee") and Keith Scholey ("African Cats"), is an innocently voyeuristic treat for just about every age, a marvel of moments great and small captured in stunning cinematography.

Narrated with brio by John C. Reilly, "Bears" starts deep in the den at winter's end. A mother bear, nicknamed Sky, is nursing her two newborn cubs, Scout and Amber. The long hibernation period is over, and the moment has arrived to go out into the wilderness to search for food.

Time is of the essence, we're told, as half of all newborn bear cubs do not survive their first year—victims of starvation and predators.

So we follow the trio as they make their way down the mountain to the sea, hoping to feast on migrating salmon. Sky must fatten herself up so she can survive the next winter's sleep and provide milk for her cubs.

There are obstacles along the way, including other, not-so-friendly bears who guard their feeding grounds, and even nastier wolves who like to eat bear cubs.

Mom also must contend with the emerging personalities of her offspring. Amber is shy and stays close to home, while Scout is mischievous and rambunctious, and often in need of rescue.

Such sentimental anthropomorphizing (a Disney hallmark) can be intrusive, making one wonder just how elaborately edited this "true-life" adventure is.

Moreover, the cutesy and cuddly quotient in "Bears" is off the charts. Fortunately, moments of ferocious fighting remind us that these are wild animals, not pets. In fact, the savage interaction may be a bit too intense at times for the youngest of viewers.

The film contains scenes of animal combat. The Catholic News Service classification is A-I—general patronage. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is G—general audiences. All ages admitted.

*****
Joseph McAleer is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.



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Teresa of Kolkata (Calcutta): Mother Teresa of Kolkata, the tiny woman recognized throughout the world for her work among the poorest of the poor, was beatified October 19, 2003. Among those present were hundreds of Missionaries of Charity, the order she founded in 1950 as a diocesan religious community. Today the congregation also includes contemplative sisters and brothers and an order of priests. 
<p>Born to Albanian parents in what is now Skopje, Macedonia (then part of the Ottoman Empire), Gonxha (Agnes) Bojaxhiu was the youngest of the three children who survived. For a time, the family lived comfortably, and her father's construction business thrived. But life changed overnight following his unexpected death. </p><p>During her years in public school Agnes participated in a Catholic sodality and showed a strong interest in the foreign missions. At age 18 she entered the Loreto Sisters of Dublin. It was 1928 when she said goodbye to her mother for the final time and made her way to a new land and a new life. The following year she was sent to the Loreto novitiate in Darjeeling, India. There she chose the name Teresa and prepared for a life of service. She was assigned to a high school for girls in Kolkata, where she taught history and geography to the daughters of the wealthy. But she could not escape the realities around her—the poverty, the suffering, the overwhelming numbers of destitute people. </p><p>In 1946, while riding a train to Darjeeling to make a retreat, Sister Teresa heard what she later explained as “a call within a call. The message was clear. I was to leave the convent and help the poor while living among them.” She also heard a call to give up her life with the Sisters of Loreto and, instead, to “follow Christ into the slums to serve him among the poorest of the poor.” </p><p>After receiving permission to leave Loreto, establish a new religious community and undertake her new work, she took a nursing course for several months. She returned to Kolkata, where she lived in the slums and opened a school for poor children. Dressed in a white sari and sandals (the ordinary dress of an Indian woman) she soon began getting to know her neighbors—especially the poor and sick—and getting to know their needs through visits. </p><p>The work was exhausting, but she was not alone for long. Volunteers who came to join her in the work, some of them former students, became the core of the Missionaries of Charity. Others helped by donating food, clothing, supplies, the use of buildings. In 1952 the city of Kolkata gave Mother Teresa a former hostel, which became a home for the dying and the destitute. As the order expanded, services were also offered to orphans, abandoned children, alcoholics, the aging, and street people. </p><p>For the next four decades Mother Teresa worked tirelessly on behalf of the poor. Her love knew no bounds. Nor did her energy, as she crisscrossed the globe pleading for support and inviting others to see the face of Jesus in the poorest of the poor. In 1979 she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. On September 5, 1997, God called her home.</p> American Catholic Blog A healthy marriage is that it is a witness of Jesus’s love for the 
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