Review : Why the Oscar-winning short film Bear Story had us in tears

A tale of love, loss and longing. A story of bravery, hope and strength. A narrative of a family split apart and never quite reunited.

Bear Story or Historia de un oso is a Chilean animated short film that tugs at your heartstrings, and how.
A bear is torn away from his family and made to work in a circus. He manages to escape and return home, but his wife and cub are nowhere to be seen. Papa Bear’s longing to be reunited with his family is beautifully told through a presentation in a mechanical diorama. 

It might be just over 10 minutes long, but Bear Story packs quite a punch. The animated short movie has a simple and touching story. The father bear’s attempt to remember (and perhaps recover) the life he lost is sure to bring tears to your eyes. Bear Story probably isn’t like any other animated movie you’ve seen before, which makes it a refreshing watch. The short film has no dialogues and none are needed: the lilting music and characters’ expressions say it all. 

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At first, the 2016 Oscar winner of the Best Animated Short category comes across as a poignant tale of a separated family.  Or at least, that is how most audiences outside Chile would see it as. However, Bear Story has a darker story behind it. The movie represents one of the darkest chapters in Chile’s history: the regime of former dictator Augusto Pinochet in the 1970s. Families were separated and destroyed, and people “who asked too many questions” simply disappeared. 

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The Escapist

Gabriel Osorio, the director of Bear Story, has spoken about how the short movie was inspired by true events. His grandfather was arrested in 1973 and exiled to England, where he had to live away from his family. Gabriel said that growing up without his grandfather led him to work on this story about love, loss and change. Bear Story is a short film that many people will enjoy and relate to. 

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