Grizzly Man

Posted by barb on Aug 18, 2005 in Movies |

4/5 stars

For 13 summers, Timothy Treadwell lived with grizzly bears in Alaska. For the last 5 summers he brought a video camera and captured some of the most incredible nature footage of the Alaskan wilderness. At the end of his last summer, in 2003, Treadwell and his girlfriend were killed by a grizzly. This film is a combination of choice bits of Treadwell’s extensive footage and a search by the director to understand who Treadwell was and what drove him to the Alaskan wilderness every year.

It’s hard to know what to think of Treadwell. In much of the footage of him, he’s talking about protecting the grizzlies. However, the only threat that he ever captured (according to the director’s narration) was a few fishermen throwing rocks at one of the bears, when the bear got close to their boats on the shore. The bears need lots of space, but it would seem that threats to that space would be best fought in city hall (or congress), not in the wilderness itself.

Treadwell also talked about studying the bears, but its clear that he was more interested in interacting than studying. I shutter to think what biologists would say about Treadwell’s form of study. I don’t deny that he was able to obtain some wonderful footage of the bears in their natural habitat, acting as bears do, but he also interacted with the bears – we see him stretching out his hands to bears when they get curious about the camera…he even taps them on the nose from time to time.

Treadwell did a lot, however, to educate children on the bears and their needs. He volunteered time in classrooms, and showed his footage to the children. Sadly, we didn’t get to see him in action in front of the kids. In some of the footage of Treadwell in Alaska, he looks a bit crazed, and he was likely bipolar. It would have been nice to see which face he put forward to the children.

His death was a tragedy, though some may say he asked for it. It was even more of a tragedy because he took his girlfriend with him. We don’t hear the audio that was taken during the bear attack that took their lives, and I was glad of that. I’m not sure I would have slept after hearing it. As it was, a very creepy medical examiner, the one who received the remains of Treadwell and his girlfriend, described what was on the audio, and that was enough for me.

Overall, an excellent film, both for its footage of the Alaskan wilderness, and for its exploration of Treadwell.

[IMDB link to Grizzly Man]


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