Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Grizzly Man

I have been in love with documentaries since I was a kid and saw THE MAN WHO SAW TOMORROW 437 times on early 80’s cable. It scared the piss out of me. And much like a crackhead tries to get back to that first high, I’ve been trying to get that same real life emotional charge out of documentaries ever since.

Grizzly Man seems a very easy read by the trailer, “nature nut gets eaten by bear”-- the end. I’ll admit to not being totally intrigued by the premise alone. Of course, the helmsman of Grizzly Man is none other than Werner Herzog (possibly the coolest name in the pantheon of directors). The man deals in insanity. The DVD hit this week and I cracked it open.

What’s interesting about Grizzly Man is that Timothy Treadwell’s death is covered in the opening moments of the film. The pilot that usually picked him up at the end of the summer discovered his and girlfriend Amie’s remains…STILL BEING CHOMPED ON BY A FUCKING BEAR.

So we get the sensational out of the way first. Then, Herzog uses Treadwell’s own footage to find a psychological foothold. Timothy Treadwell comes across as a vain and definitely complex man-boy. The kind of guy America spits up all too often. However, it’d be too easy to dismiss him as a nutty treehugger who “got what he deserved”, a line actually spoken by some dick (only dicks wear mustaches like that) in an interview. Treadwell had found religion. He communes with these grizzlies as devout worshippers would flock to a holy site and prostrate themselves before their deity. His very presence among one of the most dangerous animals on earth seems too ritualistic to not make the connection.

The only thing that intrudes on this noble act is Treadwell’s own vanity. Often doing various takes to test out different bandana choices, he seems like he’s auditioning for Animal Planet as another Jeff Corwin type. Not to mention his temper tantrums. Prolonged (rehearsed?) profane and diatribes at “them” for not “protecting” the bears.


Post a Comment

<< Home