REVIEW: Historia de un oso [Bear Story] [2014]

Score: 7/10 | ★ ★ ★

Rating: NR | Runtime: 11 minutes | Release Date: May 2014 (Chile)
Studio: Punkrobot Studio
Director(s): Gabriel Osorio Vargas
Writer(s): Daniel Castro & Gabriel Osorio Vargas / Gabriel Osorio Vargas (story)

While Gabriel Osorio Vargas‘ Chilean short film Historia de un oso [Bear Story] tells the tale of a sad, lonely old bear, it does ultimately prove uplifting. Here’s a creature tinkering tirelessly in his shop to put the finishing touches on what could very well be his life’s work and yet any and all success or failure is met with silence. There’s no one else in his small home to celebrate or lament—just the indentations of two bodies on his mattress permanently displaying that love and company existed not too long ago. How did it come to this? We’ll never know and that’s a wonderful thing. Instead we discover that love’s strength—strong enough to render distance and death harmless. His heart’s with her wherever she might be.

We could talk about the logistics of what follows inside the bear’s mechanical diorama all day and pick apart how what’s shown is impossible—the figures moving by themselves in specific positions despite not being on tracks and the zoom ins and outs changing vantage points with cuts that cannot occur in reality—but that only ignores the message beneath the animation. It’s okay to merely bask in the glory of Vargas and his Punkrobot Studio unfolding their story of a bear’s life via metal figures and gear-run sets attached by tiny hinges folding in perfect synchronicity. This secondary aesthetic contrasts their real world look nicely so we know when we’re inside Bear’s box. And they pull no punches—no matter how scary—to relay his tragic history.

The film’s dark enough to fear what might become of the small cub that approached Bear’s street performance stage with coins and a smile. It’s practically the SS rounding up lambs to slaughter during the Holocaust as told through the filter of the animal kingdom being caged for humanity’s entertainment. Thankfully, however, Vargas never cuts to the tiny bear’s reaction because we’d see tears and shock if not his retreat to dad in abject fright. We know the show won’t end as tragically as it begins due to the mattress impression, but that hardly lessens the emotional wallop. And after everything’s said and done, we can’t help wanting to call home and hold those we love close because every second is precious. Never let go.

courtesy of Shorts HD

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