Brother Bear “Great Spirits” (2003)

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Brother Bear is another example of a Disney animated film that has slowly but surely been forgotten. The 44th animated feature produced by Disney, Brother Bear was one of the last traditionally animated films produced by the company until The Princess and the Frog (2009), as the company was transitioning to computer animated features during this time. Like Tarzan (1999), Brother Bear features a Phil Collins musical soundtrack.

Set at the end of the last Ice Age, Brother Bear follows three Inuit brothers, Sitka, Denahi, and Kenai as they go about their lives in their village. The film particularly focuses on Kenai, who is receiving his totem that he must fulfill in order to become a man. While Sitka receives the eagle of guidance, and Denahi the wolf of wisdom, Kenai receives the bear of love (much to his embarrassment) and ends up going on a long journey to learn the meaning of his totem.

The story begins with “Great Spirits,”  a song that feels very similar to “Steady As the Beating Drum” in Pocahontas. The lyrics, like many Disney songs, contain the lesson that Kenai will have to learn, that “we are all the same, brothers to each other.”

When the earth was young
And the air was sweet
And the mountains kissed the sky
In the far beyond, with its many paths
Man and nature lived side by side

In this wilderness of danger and beauty
Lived three brothers, bonded by love
Their hearts full of joy
They ask now for guidance
Reaching out to the skies up above

Great Spirits of all who lived before
Take our hands and lead us
Fill our hearts and souls with all you know
Show us that in your eyes
We are all the same
Brothers to each other
In this world we remain truly brothers all the same

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Give us wisdom to pass to each other
Give us strength so we understand
That the things we do
The choices we make
Give direction to all life’s plan

To look in wonder at all we’ve been given
In a world that’s not always as it seems
Every corner we turn
Only leads to another
A journey ends
But another begins

Great Spirits of all who lived before
Take our hands and lead us
Fill our hearts and souls with all you know
Show us that in your eyes
We are all the same
Brothers to each other
In this world we remain truly brothers all the same

The post-Ice Age world is beautifully animated, with gorgeous landscapes and subtle reminders that this isn’t quite the world we’re familiar with (views of the receding glaciers, Kenai riding a mammoth). It’s a shame this film doesn’t get more attention because it really is beautiful and “Great Spirits” is a wonderful song.

Let me know what you think about “Great Spirits” in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Disney/Dreamworks/Pixar/etc. Soundtracks A-Z

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