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  Brother Bear soundtrack (2003)
Original score by Mark Mancina and Phil Collins
Label: Disney B0006DD54A
Running length: 55 minutes

The animated film, Brother Bear, tells of a young Native American warrior (Kenai) who has a rebellious nature.  To teach him a lesson, he is transformed into a bear and eventually hunted by man, who doesn’t understand what he is trying to say.  The bear/man also bonds with a cub (Koda) and learns friendship and trust.  All this is against a North America of thousands of years ago.  The story isn’t all sweetness and light, for there is revenge for someone’s death (accident) and this adds drama to the story.

Mark Mancina has written a score that is light on Native American themes and rather heavy on drama.  The main theme is majestic flute solo which reminds one of Pocahontas music, with the exception of a wind sound that is reminiscent of a northern climate rather than Middle America.

Mancina’s music, when the young warrior wakes up as a bear, shows confusion and humor.  "No hands, just paws…. and four of them besides?" This part of the score is similar to Peter and the Wolf, with the woodwind section imitating the warrior trying to walk.

After the warrior/bear makes friends with wooly mammoths, Mancina’s music turns into a complete 20-minute suite of intensity.  The story involves a chase up a mountain, a hunt, jumps over ice chasms, and a dramatic vision within the Northern Lights.  This is powerful music and by itself, would be a concert suite.  The drama ends suddenly with the vision and an ethereal end signifying peace.  One does not usually expect such descriptive orchestral music for an animated film, but it is here in a children’s film about getting along with everything in nature which is the lesson Kenai learns. 

Copyright 2004 Marie Asner
Submitted 2/08/04

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