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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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Catherine of Siena: The value Catherine makes central in her short life and which sounds clearly and consistently through her experience is complete surrender to Christ. What is most impressive about her is that she learns to view her surrender to her Lord as a goal to be reached through time. 
<p>She was the 23rd child of Jacopo and Lapa Benincasa and grew up as an intelligent, cheerful and intensely religious person. Catherine disappointed her mother by cutting off her hair as a protest against being overly encouraged to improve her appearance in order to attract a husband. Her father ordered her to be left in peace, and she was given a room of her own for prayer and meditation. </p><p>She entered the Dominican Third Order at 18 and spent the next three years in seclusion, prayer and austerity. Gradually a group of followers gathered around her—men and women, priests and religious. An active public apostolate grew out of her contemplative life. Her letters, mostly for spiritual instruction and encouragement of her followers, began to take more and more note of public affairs. Opposition and slander resulted from her mixing fearlessly with the world and speaking with the candor and authority of one completely committed to Christ. She was cleared of all charges at the Dominican General Chapter of 1374. </p><p>Her public influence reached great heights because of her evident holiness, her membership in the Dominican Third Order, and the deep impression she made on the pope. She worked tirelessly for the crusade against the Turks and for peace between Florence and the pope </p><p>In 1378, the Great Schism began, splitting the allegiance of Christendom between two, then three, popes and putting even saints on opposing sides. Catherine spent the last two years of her life in Rome, in prayer and pleading on behalf of the cause of Urban VI and the unity of the Church. She offered herself as a victim for the Church in its agony. She died surrounded by her "children" and was canonized in 1461. </p><p>Catherine ranks high among the mystics and spiritual writers of the Church. In 1939, she and Francis of Assisi were declared co-patrons of Italy. Paul VI named her and Teresa of Avila doctors of the Church in 1970. Her spiritual testament is found in <i>The Dialogue</i>.</p> American Catholic Blog The gates of hell cannot withstand the power of heaven. Gates of sin melt in the presence of saving grace; gates of death fall in the presence of eternal life; gates of falsehood collapse in the presence of living truth; gates of violence are flattened in the presence of divine love. These are the tools with which Christ has equipped his Church.

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