The Bear was released on October, 19 1988 in France, and 25 October 1989 in the United States. An official tie-in to the movie, The Odyssey of 'The Bear': The Making of the Film by Jean-Jacques Annaud, a translation from the French edition, followed in November. In addition, Curwood's original novel—out of print in the US for fifty years—was republished by Newmarket Press, and a children's book titled The Bear Storybook was published by St. Martin's Press.
The film was a critical success, holding a 92% "Fresh" rating on the review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes. Some critics pointed to The Bear's adult handling of the wildlife film genre, which is often dismissed as belonging solely to children's films. While positively reviewing the film, critic Roger Ebert wrote that The Bear "is not a cute fantasy in which bears ride tricycles and play house. It is about life in the wild, and it does an impressive job of seeming to show wild bears in their natural habitat" and that scenes from the film, especially those "of horseplay and genuine struggles – gradually build up our sense of the personalities of these animals".
Janet Maslin of The New York Times, however, believing that the film was less about its wild characters and more about personification, wrote: "The Bear...is a remarkable achievement only on its own terms, which happens to be extremely limited and peculiar...its true emphasis is not on wildlife. Instead, it grafts the thoughts and dreams of more commonplace beings onto bear-shaped stand-ins." Writing for the hunting and fishing magazine Field & Stream, editor Cathleen Erring stated that The Bear not only stripped its human characters of "all sympathetic traits and [gave] them to the bears", but it also created "a caricature that will subject anyone embarking on a bear hunt ... to the kind of scorn previously reserved for 'Bambi Butchers'."
Some reviewers were critical of the film's dream sequences, which heavily utilize special effects and deviate from the overall naturalistic feel of the film. In his review for the St. Petersburg Times, Hal Lipper called the dream sequences "existential flights of fancy are accompanied by psychedelic images that seem better suited for '60s 'happenings.'" In addition, one scene in which the adult bear mates with a female bear while the cub looks on was criticized as being unfriendly for children viewers. David Denby of New York Magazine stated as much in his review of the film, noting "I would like to be able to recommend The Bear as a movie that parents and children could see together, but I'm afraid there's a scene in the middle that would have to be... explained."
Source : Wikipedia