Back before animal rights were considered when making movies in Hollywood, fierce predators were trained to perform epic scenes for the sake of audiences everywhere. If we put aside our well-founded concerns for the animals in this video and enjoy it for the slice of cinematic history that it is, the confrontation between this black bear and an adult male lion is pretty amazing.
The video begins with two small children crouching down in the bushes. The black bear has come around and they are relying on the lion, who they call ‘Major,’ to make him leave. Major takes on the black bear, wrestling and roaring to get him to back down. It works and the black bear eventually decides to go find food somewhere else.
This is a clip from the 1972 movie “Napoleon and Samantha,” named for the two children characters in this scene. They are on a journey to bring Major, who used to be a performer in the circus, to a new home. The little girl is actually Jodie Foster, who went on to later star in films such as “The Silence of the Lambs” and earned two Academy Awards.
Would a Bear and a Lion Really Fight?
Apart from the wonderfully suspenseful music, cinematography, and 1970s fashions, this clip also creates a scene put together by Hollywood. In the wild, black bears and lions would almost certainly not interact. This is because they live in very different parts of the world. In this story, however, Major the Lion is a retired circus performer.
Major takes on the black bear and eventually gets him to leave the children alone. As many people in the comments pointed out, this black bear is small. A full-grown adult black bear would be considerably larger and would be more of a threat to the lion. Because it is Hollywood, Major wins the fight and the children continue on their journey. Major even does a little victory dance at the end, moving his back feet back and forth as if to say “Good riddance and don’t come back!” to the bear.
This scene was scripted and the animals were trained to perform when given cues. Still, it’s hard not to be concerned for their safety because they are still wild animals and can be unpredictable. In movies today, scenes like this one would be computer generated instead of putting real animals in dangerous situations. These types of features could also be dangerous for the actors. During filming, Jodie Foster was actually carried in the mouth of the lion, which left her with some scarring.
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