Great Bear Rainforest shines a light on a beautiful, fragile corner of our planet
Film critic Chris Knight reviews Great Bear Rainforest, an IMAX film that introduces the all-white spirit bear in its natural habitat on the B.C. coast
by Chris Knight
The newest big-screen nature documentary hits all the right notes. There’s science – we meet the spirit bear, a rare subspecies of the more common black bear, numbering only a few hundred individuals. We learn that its unique colouring may have evolved as a kind of camouflage for feeding on river fish. And we are introduced to British Columbia’s Great Bear Rainforest of the film’s title, the largest remaining temperate coastal rainforest on Earth, and a place of stunning natural beauty.
If you came to see majestic wildlife, director Ian McAllister obliges with footage of eagles, otters, humpback whales and the annual herring migration. There are also fun shots of bears trying to catch fish, and some ursine drama when a mother bear has to fight an adult male for a prime fishing spot. Not to mention animal outtakes during the closing credits.
For the human element, McAllister spends a great deal of the film’s 41 minutes with members of several First Nations groups who are engaged in scientific study of the region, but also working to protect the area from pollution and development. It’s a moving testament to the people who have lived in this area for millennia.
If there’s anything amiss in this IMAX film it’s Ryan Reynolds as the narrator. Sure, he’s from nearby Vancouver, and he does an excellent job with the script, which includes only a couple of cornball jokes. But given the Indigenous presence in the region, it might have been more appropriate to give even more voice to one of the local First Nations residents. But it’s a minor quibble in a film that shines a light on a beautiful, fragile corner of our planet.