This weekend I went to see Grizzly Man, written and directed by Werner Herzog, a documentary covering the death of Timothy Treadwell, a self proclaimed animal researcher/activist who lived with the Alaskan grizzly’s for 13 seasons before he was mauled.
The picture is a rather strange watch, a mixture of interviews with friends, doctors, field professionals and the footage taken by Treadwell over the years. The Treadwell footage taken on the Alaskan peninsula has some truly remarkable moments captured completely unintentionally. You see, because I am thoroughly convinced -after watching the film- that Timothy Treadwell was an amazing idiot. A fool that towers over all fools. I will even go as far to say that he was borderline mentally handicapped in some way. Displayed in the Treadwell footage is a man who spends so much time in the woods, that he rejects the human world, loosing his mind to some extent but yet remaining concerned about his appearance and his fame.
Many times throughout this film, you are astonished by what this man is able to do, and the fact that he has no experience in the field, no biological knowledge of these animals or the wilderness he is living in, drives you mad and irritates you. For example, there is a scene were Treadwell becomes overly emotional by the scat of one of his favorite grizzly’s. Placing his hand over the waste, almost to the point of tears, he remarks on its warmth, caressing it and educating the audience by telling us that “this poo came from her butt,” continuing by becoming spiritual and connecting with the bear because the “poo” was part of her, it was inside her and now he has been inside her too. This is clearly the mental dribbles of a child, and Timothy Treadwell reverts to this child like mentality throughout the movie.
[ Find out what you should do after the jump. ]
Right when you are at the point of total frustration of the idiocy you are watching, Herzog cuts to interviews. Some of the interviewees are truly informative, like the bear researcher who explains how there is no threat on the bear population within the peninsula Treadwell inhabited, debunking Treadwell’s hypothesis -of course Treadwell probably couldn’t spell hypothesis- and further solidifying the delusional stupidity that is Timothy Treadwell. Other interviews included an actor friend of Treadwell’s who seemed to be overdoing it and acting a bit melodramatic, an ex-girlfriend who was just as irritating as Treadwell, the doctor who completed the autopsy on Treadwell and his partners corpses who was to nervous to even be included in the film and a few other people tossed in for good measure.
During the interviews, Herzog continues to narrate the film and ask the interviewee questions pertaining to Treadwell’s life and thought processes. Herzog is a bit monotone and dull, almost Ben Stein like and putting you in a trance. Luckily, once the interviews become irritating Herzog seems to know this and switches back to the footage taken by Treadwell.
Not to come off as an evil minded person, but I was expecting to see pictures of the mauled corpses and hearing the audio of the bear attack. This was not provided -which is probably better anyhow-, but Herzog almost rubs that in our faces and teases us by listening to the audio of the attack himself right infront of us. He listens to it using headphones, and remarks on how disturbing the audio was. This added more frustration to the movie, because you then want to hear it even more and are left feeling unimportant almost as if Herzog is saying I’m better than you and you’re not strong enough to hear this.
Timothy Treadwell’s footage at times is truly amazing. The amount of intimacy he creates with some of the wild animals on the Alaskan peninsula is mind blowing. Not only does he get uncomfortably close to the grizzly’s -roughly 10 yrds from the big adults and petting the younger ones- he also befriends a family of fox. The fox follow him around like his dogs, and every summer when Treadwell returns, the fox seek him out and spend the months with him at his camp sites. Unbelievable; almost as if the animals know how simple minded this person is, and sense no threat because of it.
The film tosses your opinions back and forth. I was about to walk out of the theater when more footage of Treadwell’s stupidity both captivated and frustrated me so much, it made it impossible to leave. To see a man who is obviously completely crackers, reject the human world to the point of throwing a temper tantrum when it’s time to leave Alaska, is jaw dropping.
It’s no mystery that Treadwell dies, but prior to watching the film I was unsure on how it happened or if it was a freak accident. After watching Grizzly Man you see how Treadwell and his pertner’s death were results of pure inexperience in the field -the guy didn’t even camp properly- and a complete lack of knowledge in animal behaviors. It is amazing he lasted as long as he did!
I would never recommend this movie to a friend, because regardless of its addictive attributes, the amount of astonishment and frustration caused by the stupidity of Timothy Treadwell, the interviewees and the monotone Herzog is painful. So you will have to make that decision on your own.
What should you do: See it if you wish. Intelligent people will become angry, and blockheads will think Timothy Treadwell is magic.