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Ending of Polar Bear Explained

The ending of Polar Bear is both hopeful and urgent. The mother bear and her cub swim across melting Arctic waters, symbolizing resilience and the need for action against climate change.

Polar Bear, a 2022 nature documentary, follows a mother polar bear and her cub in the Arctic. Narrated by Catherine Keener, the film highlights the beauty of polar bears and the severe impact of climate change on their habitat.

Plot Summary

The story follows a female polar bear from her youth to motherhood. Catherine Keener’s narration gives a personal touch, making the bear’s journey relatable. The film starts with the mother bear recalling her childhood, playing with her twin brother under their mother’s watchful eye. These early scenes mix joy and survival challenges. Her brother dies, leaving her to fend for herself. As she grows, she meets a male bear, and after a brief courtship, she becomes a mother.

The film’s narrative structure uses the bear’s memories to guide her as she raises her cub in a harsh environment. This approach helps viewers connect emotionally with the bears, making their struggles more impactful.

Hopeful Yet Urgent Ending

The ending of Polar Bear is a mix of hope and urgency. The mother bear and her cub swim across waters that were once ice. She reflects on her daughter’s future, expressing confidence that her cub will grow up powerful. However, this optimism is tempered by concern for the world her daughter will inherit.

The film ends with a powerful message: “The Arctic could be ice-free by the summer of 2040, the actions we take today can positively change the future of polar bears” (Wikipedia). This statement captures the film’s dual themes of hope and urgency. It acknowledges the dire consequences of climate change while emphasizing the potential for positive action.

Climate Change and Conservation

One of the main themes of Polar Bear is the impact of climate change on the Arctic. The film shows how melting ice forces polar bears to travel farther and take more risks to find food. This theme is reinforced by stunning visuals that contrast the beauty of the Arctic with its deterioration (

Directors Alastair Fothergill and Jeff Wilson aimed to highlight the challenges faced by polar bears and inspire viewers to take action. Ending the film on a hopeful note was crucial to empowering audiences and motivating them to contribute to conservation efforts (Murphy’s Multiverse).

Emotional Engagement

Polar Bear uses a first-person narrative style, with Keener’s narration giving a voice to the mother bear. This anthropomorphic approach creates an emotional connection between the audience and the polar bears. By giving the bears human-like thoughts and feelings, the film makes their plight more relatable.

However, this approach has faced criticism for being overly simplistic. Some reviewers argue that the film’s narrative style detracts from its factual content, making it more of a sentimental story than a rigorous documentary (Rotten Tomatoes).

Hope and Resilience

Despite its somber tone, the film conveys a message of hope and resilience. The mother bear’s determination to protect her cub in the face of overwhelming odds serves as a metaphor for the broader struggle against climate change. The film suggests that, like the mother bear, humanity can adapt and overcome challenges if we take decisive action.

Critical Reception

Polar Bear has received mixed reviews. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 74%, based on 19 reviews, with an average rating of 5.8/10 (Wikipedia). Critics praise the film’s stunning cinematography and emotional storytelling but note its shortcomings in factual content and narrative coherence.

Some reviewers highlight the film’s ability to balance majestic imagery with a consequential message about climate change. Others criticize it for its anthropomorphic approach and lack of depth in exploring the scientific aspects of the polar bears’ plight (Decider).


The ending of Polar Bear is a poignant conclusion to a film that raises awareness about climate change’s impact on polar bears. By combining stunning visuals with a personal narrative, the film creates an emotional connection with its audience while delivering a powerful message about conservation.

The hopeful ending, coupled with its urgent call to action, underscores the importance of efforts to protect the Arctic and its inhabitants. As the mother bear and her cub swim across the melting ice, they symbolize both the fragility and resilience of life in the face of environmental change. The film’s final message serves as a reminder that the future of polar bears—and the planet—depends on the actions we take today.


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