The Great Polar Bear Feast

Watch The Great Polar Bear Feast

  • 2016
  • 2 Seasons
  • 7.3  (17)

The Great Polar Bear Feast is a captivating documentary produced by PBS and first aired in 2015. The film follows the story of Eric Meyers, an avid wildlife photographer, as he sets out on a journey to capture the harrowing struggle of polar bears during one of the toughest times of the year – the summer months, when the Arctic ice is melting rapidly, and the bears' usual hunting grounds are disappearing.

The Great Polar Bear Feast takes place on Barter Island, just off the Alaskan coast, where every year, in the months of August and September, hundreds of polar bears gather to eat the remains of bowhead whales that have been hunted by the local Inupiaq community. This feeding frenzy is a crucial event for the polar bears, as they must pack on as much weight as possible before the long, harsh winter sets in.

Eric Meyers joins a team of researchers, scientists, and wildlife experts, who are all fascinated by the annual gathering of polar bears on Barter Island. The film provides an intimate look at the lives of these magnificent animals, as they congregate on the shore, playfight, and wait for the remnants of the whale hunt to be delivered.

The documentary takes a deeply sympathetic approach to the bears, portraying them not just as wild animals, but as individuals with personalities and distinct behaviors. As Meyers points out, "each polar bear has its own story," and the filmmakers do a remarkable job of capturing the unique personalities and characteristics of the animals.

One of the most striking aspects of The Great Polar Bear Feast is its focus on the relationship between the Inupiaq community and the polar bears. Unlike many documentaries which portray humans and wildlife as being in opposition to each other, this film shows a more nuanced and complex dynamic, where the Inupiaq people depend on the polar bears for their livelihood, and the bears, in turn, are attracted to the site of the whale carcasses. The film highlights the importance of this interaction, not just for the polar bears, but for the cultural and economic survival of the Inupiaq people.

Throughout the film, we see beautiful and dramatic scenes of polar bears gathering on the shore, some of them stretching over nine feet tall, engaged in playfights or sharing a meal with their companions. The filmmakers capture the sights and sounds of this spectacle perfectly, with stunning cinematography and masterful use of sound design that immerses the viewer in the experience.

Despite its focus on the plight of the polar bears, The Great Polar Bear Feast does not dwell too heavily on the dire predictions of climate change and its impact on the Arctic ecosystem. Instead, the film emphasizes the power of human empathy and compassion, and the possibility that, with proper conservation efforts, we may be able to ensure the survival of these magnificent creatures.

In conclusion, The Great Polar Bear Feast is a remarkable documentary that offers a rare and intimate look at one of the most fascinating and awe-inspiring creatures on the planet. With its stunning cinematography, emotional depth, and message of hope, it is sure to leave viewers with a greater appreciation for the beauty and fragility of our natural world.

The Great Polar Bear Feast is a series that is currently running and has 2 seasons (2 episodes). The series first aired on June 26, 2016.

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Extra: Rules of the Polar Bear Feast
1. Extra: Rules of the Polar Bear Feast
How every gesture tells a story when normally solitary polar bears feast together
Where to Watch The Great Polar Bear Feast
The Great Polar Bear Feast is available for streaming on the PBS website, both individual episodes and full seasons. You can also watch The Great Polar Bear Feast on demand at and PBS.
  • Premiere Date
    June 26, 2016
  • IMDB Rating
    7.3  (17)