Gabriel Osorio and Pato Escala’s “Bear Story” is a soul crushing tale of loss and yet a pretty remarkable short about overcoming grief and finding a reason to keep going on. Lacking dialogue and told through excellent computer animation, “Bear Story” is a short and hear breaking tale of an old bear that spends most of his time fixing an old nickelodeon. Featuring a trio of bear dolls that stand in for his wife and son, he takes to the street one morning. Unfortunately, his is a tale of sadness, suffering, and the willingness to endure, as he opens up his theater for a young cub.
The cub witnesses a horrific tale of a building filled with animals that were kidnapped and seized by a passing carnival. Despite doing his best to fight off the captors, the male is kidnapped while leaving behind the son and wife to fend for themselves. The bear is then forced in to a life of servitude and loneliness, performing every night and relying on his memories to get him through the pain. Most of the animated film is told through images and sharply punctuated looks at the bear doing his best to overcome human cruelty and terrible abuse at the hands of his captors. The narrative unfolds through the Nickelodeon thanks to craftily placed mechanics and scenery, offering an even sadder overtone to an already terrible tale of abuse.
Director Gabriel Osorio claims that the film is based on a true story involving his grandfather who was exiled from Chile and lived for ten years in England without his family. Though the tale that inspired “Bear Story” is personal, thankfully, the brilliant 3D animation, and tale of loss can be interpreted by many audiences in any way. To some it might be a tale of animal cruelty, or the enduring suffering of circus animals and that is only a testament to the sheer genius of “Bear Story.” While it’s a dark and emotional tale filled with gut wrenching scenes, it also offers a glimmer of hope about continuing to live in the face of loss.