Today, we kick off our series of reviews of the Academy Award-nominated animated shorts on the site with Bear Story, an endearing animated short from Chile. Bear Story is a computer animated short that tells the story of an old, lonesome bear who tells his life story through a mechanical diorama.
When the short first started playing I gotta say I wasn’t really too invested in it. The story starts out inside the apartment of a bear and it doesn’t really get interesting until halfway through when we actually get to see the bear’s story though a mechanical diorama. That part, which is the main of the short, was everything I was hoping for from both a visual standpoint as a story standpoint. The other few minutes, however, didn’t really interest me.
The short is completely CG animated and in the mechanical diorama scenes it works really well. The way the animation was used is fun, innovative, and looks really great. The animation looks wonderful and convincing with the mechanical/metallic look of the sequence. The other scenes, however, didn’t do it for me personally. Because the budget on this short was probably not as big as the budget of a Disney or Pixar short, overall the visuals in those parts distracted me. Small things – like the bear’s fur – looked off and it distracted me from the story, unfortunately. If those scenes were hand drawn or done with stop motion animation and the diorama scenes were kept CG this probably would have worked better for me, but instead I kind of felt distracted by it.
The short has a lovely score that weaves in perfectly with what’s happening on screen. It’s not just background music like in some films; it actually plays a role and the story. The score has a sound reminiscent of the music box feel the short has in certain moments. The music was simple, but added a lot to the short.
An important part of Bear Story is its message. I like it when a story is not just a story, but when it actually has a meaning behind it. This short is directly inspired by the life of director Gabriel Osorio. His grandfather had to leave Chile when he was younger and, similarly to the bear in the short, leave his family behind. Bear Story is not really a story about Osorio’s grandfather, but rather a story inspired by the mark it left on him and the thousands of other families around the world who went through the same thing and in some cases still don’t know where their loved ones are.
Bear Story is a simple story with a lot of meaning behind it. It has a beautiful story with a wonderful message and I absolutely loved what they did visually with the diorama scenes. It was fun, refreshing, and it looked fantastic. Even though some of the other scenes weren’t personally my cup of tea, I know a big team of very talented artists worked on them with the resources that they had, and they did the best they could with that. Bear Story is one of those shorts that a lot of people will enjoy and will be able to relate to. I sincerely recommend you to check it out.
Other reviews in this series:
All the Academy Award-nominated animated shorts, including Bear Story, will be available for digital purchase on iTunes, Amazon Video, Vimeo on Demand among others this Wednesday, February 23rd.
Edited by: Hannah Wilkes