Friday, December 15, 2006

Grizzly Man


I did not sleep well at all last night and I’m still edgy today because I watched Grizzly Man before going to bed. I absolutely loved it and I absolutely hated it. It’s going to be one of those films that lingers on my mind for quite awhile.

Warning: spoilers ahead.

This is filmmaker Werner Herzog’s take on grizzly bear “activist” Timothy Treadwell and his friend Amie Huguenard who were killed in October 2003 while living among grizzlies in Alaska.

My bottom line critique is this: I LOVED what Herzog did with this film, and I ultimately had to sympathize with Treadwell. NOT because he was eaten by a bear – because COME ON he totally deserved that - but because he suffered from some kind of personality disorder that rendered him so detached from reality that he was a socially crippled freak. I felt deeply sorry for him. But the hubris of this guy is maddening and you just want to shout out, “You stupid, stupid, man! Are you for real?”

The pure beauty of the film footage that Treadwell himself captured over 13 summers of living with these bears is some of the most stunningly beautiful, raw scenery I have ever seen. I doubt anyone has caught more amazing grizzly footage, ever. For that glimpse into the wilds of Alaska alone, this film is worth the rent.

But the most interesting part of the story was watching this man’s decent into madness as he loses track of what is real and what isn’t. Treadwell abandoned society for a life of “acceptance” from creatures that are incapable of judging or criticizing him. Yet he basks in the glory of the “fame” that his lifestyle brings him from the real world, which is why he is making a movie, always worried about his looks, and is often-times obviously “acting” when in front of the camera. Unfortunately, Treadwell mistakes the grizzly bears indifference as acceptance, and falls in love with them because he’s convinced they love him, too.

Werner Herzog narrates the film and I felt like this line of his said it all, “And what haunts me, is that in all the faces of all the bears that Treadwell ever filmed, I discovered no kinship, no understanding, no mercy. I see only the overwhelming indifference of nature. To me, there is no such thing as a secret world of bears. And their blank stare speaks only of a half-bored interest in food. But for Timothy Treadwell, this bear was a friend, a savior.”

Treadwell’s humanization of the bears was his ultimate undoing. I agreed with one of the guys interviewed on the film – I think the reason the bears put up with this lunatic living and interacting so closely is because they sensed he was “not right”, or retarded. Seriously, I think they tolerated Treadwell because he was such a crazy anomaly. It wasn’t until a relatively unknown bear entered the scene that the light bulb went off in this massive creature’s pea brain that said, “Wait a minute…this lunatic is FOOD.”

You don’t see, or hear, the footage of Treadwell’s death, yet the way Herzog communicates these events to the audience is just as powerful and upsetting as if you had seen these gruesome sights.

So this film has really moved me and I can’t stop thinking about it. Through Treadwell’s interaction with grizzly bears, Werner Herzog shows that this film is really about the inadequacies and insecurities of human nature. Fascinating stuff.

Watch the film’s trailer here.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home