Thursday, 9 February 2017

We're going on a bear hunt (DVD review)

toy bear, teddy bear

"We're going on a bear hunt... We're going to catch a big one..." Sounds familiar?!

"We're going on a bear hunt" by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury has delighted several generations of children and parents alike since 1989. Some of those babies who discovered this book back then in the late 80s-early 90s, read this catchy narrative to their own babies now.
I remember reading this story hundreds of times, when Sasha was little. I think it's the rhythm, rhyme and repetition that appeal to children. We definitely knew it off by heart.

Children are led on a challenging adventure by their big brother. They have to go through the high grass, a river, a thick oozy mud, dark forest, snowstorm until they reach a bear cave. The bear is startled to see them. Terrified, the kids flee back home, in reverse order, before finally hiding under the duvet in their big bed. They vow never to go on a bear hunt again. The poor bear who was woken up from hibernation in his cave, looks sad and desolate.

On the run to the last Christmas, I have bought a big issue of Radio Times and discovered that there would be a brand new animation based on the original story. How exciting!

animation for children, favourite children's books made into films

We missed the screening of the animation, as we spent Christmas in Italy.
I remember coming home from Italy and reading many reviews of the animation, where people bemoaned the fact that the story was changed, that it has become very sinister and tragic, that this was not a Christmas TV material and so on.
So, it is with trepidation that I have put the DVD on.
Will I find it too unrecognisable from the original book? First of all, it takes maximum 10 minutes to read the book, even with all the sound effects, repetitions and pauses. The animation lasts about half an hour, so obviously there were a lot of things added to the story.

Starring Olivia Colman, Pam Ferris and Mark Williams, this animation is created by the team behind The Snowman and the Snowdog (one of our most favourite animation stories of the last decade). Hand-drawn animation is done in the classic traditions, without the modern high-tech visuals which many children's films use these days.

The story is darker indeed, with children missing their late grandpa. Their adventure is a symbol of "going through it", as in overcoming the grief.
One of the girls befriends the bear, which is also a new touch. She gives the bear her late Granddad's scarf and is reluctant to leave the bear behind.
The animation ends on a sad note, leaving you thinking about the bear, the children and life itself.

Have you seen this animation at Christmas? What did you think of it?

Disclosure: We received the DVD for the purposes of reviewing. All opinions are our own.

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