Interesting movie. I just watched it last week at my parents’ house. It’s a documentary by Werner Herzog on Timothy Treadwell, a young guy who fell so in love with Grizzly Bears that he lived among them for 10 years in Alaska, talking to them, swimming with them, petting them on the nose, and otherwise treating them as his buddies, until one of them finally tore him (and his girlfriend who was terrified of them) to pieces.
My parents were a little disappointed with the movie, because it is mostly footage of Treadwell and he’s sort of a phoney, big-mouthed, southern california, failed hollywood type and they felt he was shamelessly overhyping himself, or something like that. But that didn’t bother me at all. I saw it as an interesting character study of a real-life guy who gradually falls completely out of touch with reality. Obviously he totally lost it. Grizzlies are massive, powerful, wild beasts and if they feel like killing you there’s not a damn thing you can do to stop them, particularly if you approach to just a few feet away with nothing to protect you but a camera. While his phoney hollywood acting may be a little annoying, it’s not completely an act; it’s part of who he was and is therefore as real as anything else in the movie.
Of course the Grizzly footage is fantastic. Beautiful beasts filmed up close like no one else has ever filmed them before. And the foxes are awesome too. Several wild foxes befriend Treadwell, run around him like pet dogs, and sit still and allow him to pet them. That was great.
But the movie is more about Treadwell, this crazy guy who practically believes he too is a Grizzly, than it is about the animals. And I found him to be very interesting. He must have said at least 2 dozen times in the footage they showed, “I would die for these bears, I would die for them, I would die for them.” I liked the line by the one guy who said, “I believe he only got away with it for so long without getting eaten, because the bears felt there must be something wrong with him, he must be mentally retarded or something, so they let him be.”
Other interesting issues:
Did Herzog wrongly take advantage of the solemn, actual moment of Treadwell being torn to shreds for crass commercial purposes? Treadwell had the cap on his video camera at the time so there’s no footage, but the camera did capture the screams of both Treadwell then his girl getting eaten. Herzog doesn’t play the tape in the movie, but he describes it a few times and he shows himself listening to it and then going, “yuck, turn it off,” or words to that effect. I don’t think it was too tacky what he did; after all, he needed to make clear Treadwell’s horrible fate.
Did Treadwell do more harm or good for the Grizzlies he was trying to help? He gave lots of talks and spread the word about these beautiful creatures, but one guy felt he did harm by getting them accustomed to getting too close to humans. I feel he did more good than harm, but I definitely feel he was crazy.
Anyone else see the movie?