Disney Canon-Forgotten/Minor Characters #44: The Croatian Bear

brother bear croatian

We approach Disney’s 44th animated feature, “Brother Bear”! Released in 2003, people were somewhat split in their reactions to this movie. Some loved the film. Others saw it as a sort of a “The Lion King” and “Ice Age” ripoff. Which party do I subscribe to? I’m with the first category of people: I really enjoyed this film!

The film is about three Inuit brothers named Sitka, Denahi, and Kenai.

brother bear brothers
Their reactions after almost being run over by a herd of CGI caribous!

Kenai has recently turned of age to take part in a cultural ceremony that denotes his transition into manhood. The ceremony is symbolized by giving the person in question a special totem to symbolize his/her strengths. Kenai receives the “Bear of Love” totem.

Somehow this makes me think of wooden-flavored gummi bears!
Somehow this makes me think of wooden-flavored gummy bears!

At first, he’s disappointed and somewhat angered by receiving such a petty totem. But he has no time to think about it further as a bear has stolen some salmon that the brothers recently caught. He goes after the bear, while his brothers go after him. When they catch up to the bear, they end up fighting for their lives, and Sitka sadly loses his.

The last shot of a sacrificing brother!
The last shot of a sacrificing brother!

Vowing vengeance for his brother’s death, Kenai once more goes after the bear to kill it. After accomplishing this feat, he’s transformed into a bear by his late brother’s spirit as a sort of redemption/punishment for his cruel act. And the rest of the movie deals with him trying to turn back into a human all the while learning what it’s like to be a bear.

He's clearly still trying to figure it out!
He’s clearly still trying to figure it out!

So, where does our forgotten/minor character come in? Later on, Kenai (as a bear) meets up with other bears at a salmon run. They meet here to fish, have fun, and tell interesting stories about themselves. One of the bears happens to be a foreign bear speaking in a foreign language (as foreigners tend to do).

A caption here would be pointless and erroneous.
A caption here would be pointless and erroneous.

IMDB states that this bear is in fact, Croatian. Now, I don’t speak Croatian; so if there are any readers who know Croatian and can verify for me whether this bear is speaking Croatian or not, that’d be greatly appreciated! In the meantime, I’m going with what IMDB tells me to be fact!

"When you've eliminated the impossible, whatever's left, no matter if it's IMDB or Wikipedia, must be the truth!"
“Once you’ve eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, no matter if it’s Wikipedia or IMDB, must be the truth!”

Now this character is interesting, because it makes me wonder: How in the world does a Croatian bear end up in the northern regions of North America? I mean, Croatia is a landlocked country near southern Europe. Granted the movie takes place in the post-ice age era, so much of the northern waters were probably purely ice, thereby creating a suitable walkway from Europe to northern America.

Or maybe the continents were still stuck together?
Or maybe the continents were still stuck together?

But even if that were the case, that’s still a LONG journey! Why make that journey anyway? Does he just prefer hanging around American bears?

"Ever try buying a McCaribou burger in Croatia?"
“Ever try buying a McCaribou burger in Croatia?”

Oh well, I’m glad that he made the journey, because we would never have known about him had he not! That’s why I’m recognizing him as the forgotten/minor character of this film!

He's laughing because of the fact that such an award exists...well, at least on my blog it does!
He’s laughing because of the fact that such an award exists…well, at least on my blog it does!






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24 thoughts on “Disney Canon-Forgotten/Minor Characters #44: The Croatian Bear”

      1. The fact that he’s Croatian? Exactly! Now you see why I had to recognize him as a forgotten/minor character!

        Well to be fair, he’s voiced by animator Darko Cesar, who, I’m assuming is probably Croatian or can speak Croatian. But the question still arises, “Why have a Croatian bear in the first place?” Maybe they just promised Mr. Cesar a voice role and he wanted to use his native tongue?

  1. Actually, he speak Croatian coz one of writers of Brother Bear is Croat, his name is Steve Bencich, so I think it’s the reason. It’s funny that in Croatian dubbed version this bear speak another Slavic language – Slovene hehehe

  2. Just recently rewatched it and because im always intrigued by these things I googled and found out he’s saying “I almost froze to death when I crossed this huge icy passage. It was something i barely survived. Barely!” Which matches up with the arctic bridge theory. What I wonder is whether the script called for a Russian bear and they figured Americans would assume it was Russian anyways, and Darko wanted to rep Croatia or if Bears travel long distances to the coasts anyways. I vote for a spin off cartoon about the travels of the Croatian Bear.

  3. Pretty much the only Germanic and Slavic languages I know any phrases from (mind you, I don’t speak them fluently) are German, Yiddish, and Afrikaans (which has its roots in Dutch, as well as influences from German, Portuguese, Malay, and the indigenous languages of South Africa), as well as 2 or 3 words of Russian- so I really couldn’t tell what that guy was saying. (Call it Yankee ignorance, if you want…)

    In any event, BROTHER BEAR stands as my #1 favorite feature from WDAS’s “experimental era” (post-TARZAN and pre-THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG), with a deeply emotional story, well-developed characters, beautiful animation, and singable music. I do, however, have to admit that there are a couple of things that have recently come to bother me a little:

    1. After Kenai’s transformation, the movie becomes a wee bit dialogue-heavy.

    2. It’s hard to tell just how much of the Alaskan Native culture represented in the film is accurate. (Of course, I’ve heard that it’s also partly inspired by the lore of the continental First Americans [the so-called “American Indians”], so that probably contributes to the ambiguity…)

    3. Nothing against the actors’ performances, but, as with ALADDIN, the voice cast for the human characters is mostly white (although old Denahi is first shown speaking one of the Inuit or Yupik languages, and in the sequel, one character’s voiced by an African American).

    These factors aside, I consider BROTHER BEAR to be one of the best post-Renaissance and pre-Revival Disney animated features, and it doesn’t deserve the low critics’ approval rating it received. (Same goes for ROBIN HOOD and OLIVER & COMPANY.)

  4. The bear really speaks in croatian, in fact he speaks in a specific accent that even croats think is funny 🙂 I was shocked when I watched the english version and heard a bear speaking in my native language, I thougt something went wrong! Hahhaha

  5. Hi! I’m Croatian and today was the first day I’ve watched Brother bear in English. When I heard the bear speak I was so confused so I searched online lol. Yeah, what he’s saying is in fact correct to what google tells you! First time my language was in the og version of a Disney cartoon, I’m really happy!

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