As a kid, I saw lots of movies that were technically age-inappropriate. In 1991 alone, my parents vouched for ten-year-old me to get into R rated movies like Thelma and Louise and Terminator 2.
Shootings, stabbings, and beatings? Didn’t faze me.
And the traumatic scene in The Man in the Moon? Please. That was only PG-13, practically made for babies.
But The Bear scarred me for life.
It probably seemed like a good idea to take a seven-year-old to a PG-rated nature film about a cute little orphan bear cub who learns how to make his way in the world.
The film opens on the bear cub and his mother rooting around on a mountaintop for honeycomb. The mother knocks too many rocks loose and a boulder falls on her, killing her instantly. The now orphaned cub is first confused, then bereft, whimpering as he spends the night sleeping against his dead mother’s body.
I squirmed in my seat.
But things were about to get so much worse.
Over on the other side of the forest, two hunters are tracking a giant Kodiak bear. One takes a shot, and the bear roars with pain, and blood appears on his shoulder.
They zoomed in on the blood.
So much blood.
I started screaming at the top of my seven-year-old lungs.
My dad carried me out of the theater, with my mom right behind.
I stood, hysterical and inconsolable, in the lobby of the theater.
“It’s just ketchup,” my dad kept saying, referring to the blood. Ketchup, ketchup, ketchup, I repeated to myself.
“It’s pretend,” my mother said. “None of the bears got hurt.”
Pretend, pretend, pretend.
I’ve never had the guts to go back and see what happens after the first twenty minutes.
I hope the little guy made it, and the big Kodiak too.
Give me Louise blowing away Thelma’s wannabe rapist any day.
Just leave the animals out of it.
This is part of my Movies I’m Grateful For series, running daily through the month of November.
Other films include: Splash | New Moon | The Lucky One | Thelma and Louise | Katy Perry: Part of Me | Crazy Rich Asians | Under the Tuscan Sun | Terminator 2 | Moulin Rouge! | How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days | Practical Magic | Schindler’s List | Mission Impossible – Ghost Protocol | Stardust | The Man in the Moon | The Others | Little Women | Cruella | Sliding Doors | Far and Away | The Magdalene Sisters | The Heat | The Last Five Years | Shakespeare In Love | Erin Brockovich |
To quote the late Lou Reed, ‘you can’t always trust your mother’ ; how would she know that no bears got hurt making this? Did she have genuine knowledge or was she just saying what she thought would calm you down? This film still gives me nightmares…
Pretty sure she had no clue!
Glad to hear I’m not the only one scarred….how could give that a PG rating ?!
I guess nature is meant to be natural for kids to understand, but this is done shonky home-school logic to attract kids to a pretty bloody world-view. Good film, but a 12 at least…
They basically made a live action Bambi with bears, and that’s another movie that couldn’t take when the mother got shot!
Oh my days that sounds heinous. I flooded the cinema when Bambi’s mother died, and had to have stoppage time witih tissues and wine when John Wicks dog was killed. No way could I watch this. Poor you.
My mother called me this morning after reading this one and said she and my father were traumatized by my reaction at the time. Said they’ve never seen me like that before or since. I can laugh about it now but I think they are still traumatized too!
And rightly so! Child abuse of the worst kind. I would have demanded a puppy, kitten or at least a hamster in recompense and to keep me quiet. 😉
Haha I was in no shape to make demands!
She insists she thought it was going to be a Disney movie with cute little bears frolicking in the woods!
These are the kind of movies I cannot bear to watch.
I see what you did there….