Truly Bad Films

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Movie Review

Grizzly Man (2005)

Red and Tracey have already spoken of this film in such moving terms, that I don't have much to add. I'll echo their observation that it is a deeply disturbing film. For me the disturbance came from watching Tim Treadwell's mind disintegrate right before my eyes. He was obviously deeply troubled before he stopped drinking and started getting high on bears. Herzog mercilessly shows us Tim's vain, addictive personality crumbling under the pressure of self-imposed isolation and ageing.

Why do I say that? It was telling when his beach buddy noted that whenever Tim came up from a tumble while surfing, Tim always made sure to emerge from the ocean in a way that allowed his hair to stream down over his forehead. He was such a narcissist that he wouldn't allow anyone to see his receeding hairline. This tiny moment told me volumes about Tim and his anxieties. While he screamed at the Park Service, all I could look at was his hair. Not many grown men are naturally blond. His hair was obviously very thin in front at that time and it looked chemically burned. Maybe I'm petty - and wrong - but I wondered how he managed to keep those roots pale while bathing in unsullied streams. I mean, the man was in such denial about his true sources of rage and his real motivations for loving, loving loving those bears that I can easily imagine a few boxes of hair bleach stowed in those barrels he brought out to camp each spring.

In the end, I got the sense that his bear-drug wasn't working any more and he knew it. His paranoia was moving in a direction that would have ended in a gun-fight with the FBI, if he had continued to live without medication. He traded in cute, ("We've got to help Banjo!") and a bald nature-boy isn't the same as a cute nature-boy. I really think ageing was part of his increasing emotional instability and it helped him fulfill his death wish of suicide-by-bear. This is a sad film, but not sad in a heart-breaking Brokeback Mountain way. Treadwell's death seems almost planned, so it's not a tragedy in the sense of him being undercut by a fatal flaw.

Treadwell's fatal flaw brought about the end he desired. So, the sadness here comes from the senseless destruction of a human being at his own hands simply because he was "hell bent on destruction." It is a horrible thing to stand by and watch someone do this. Sadness here comes from the fact that he would reject each and every helping hand offered. He would spurn every blessing that might have saved his life. Sadness, for me, comes from knowing that no force on earth could save him from his chosen downward spiral. This death-lust makes everyone else helpless in it's face, and that is why this movie rattled me to the core.


At 12:54 PM, Anonymous gully said...

treadwell insanity did stop the poaching of grizzlies while he wqs around. 6 have been killed since he was eaten.

At 5:48 PM, Blogger worshipnaked said...

Chai-rista -- Great take on this film!

At 10:59 AM, Blogger Elisson said...

I've said my own piece about this film already...but what really tells you that Tim was way over the edge is when he starts waxing rhapsodic about a huge lump of steaming-fresh bear shit. "This was just inside her!"

And soon, you will be too, Timbo.

At 7:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In Herzog's documentary, when Treadwell is shown filming the so-called "poachers" who are out to kill "his" bears the one guy is clearly standing there fishing with a rod and reel, line in the water, while one other guy appears to have a camera on a tripod.

That is when one of one of the human-habituated bears trained by Treadwell walks right up to the group of people on the beach, and they toss a couple of rocks at the bear to scare it back off of them.

And Treadwell was furious about that.

So, that was the extent of the "poaching problem" that Treadwell managed to capture in his entire 13 years of filming in the Katmai Park?

Treadwell was clearly the individual who directly instigated that particular confrontation when he began habituating bears toward humans and human interaction.

Katmai Park Rangers should have pulled him out of that environment to keep those types of situations from continuing, placing the bears and people at risk even today.


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