Thursday, June 22, 2006

Grizzly Man


(Photo Source: USA Today)

Everyone knows that you shouldn’t play with grizzly bears.

Well, almost everyone.

Timothy Treadwell seemed to think it was a good idea. And, amazingly, he got away with it for nearly 13 summers in the wilds of Alaska.

Until the inevitable happened – he and his girlfriend were killed and eaten by a grizzlies in the summer of 2003.

Treadwell’s amazing and tragic tale of stupidity is chronicled in a fantastic documentary titled “Grizzly Man,” which we watched last night. The director was fortunate enough to have hours of footage shot by Treadwell. It also includes interviews with friends and family, along with archival footage of Treadwell’s appearances on shows like “60 Minutes” and “David Letterman.”

Treadwell is portrayed as a troubled, wannabe actor with mental health issues who finds some celebrity in his grizzly adventures.

The footage is amazing. Treadwell wanders out into a field inhabited by grizzlies and gets up close and personal. He talks to them. He gets in the river while they’re catching fish. He touches them.

In a lot of the scenes, Treadwell seems to be a one-man show with his camera mounted on a tri-pod and filming him giving commentaries about the bears.

Sometimes he speaks in an authoritative voice with an upbeat enthusiasm and excitement for his topic. Then Treadwell switches to a fake-sounding voice as if he’s narrating a program for children. This is interspersed with occasional swearing and narcissistic/paranoid rants.

He was a weird dude.

Then he gets mauled and eaten. The lens cap was on his camera when this happened, although the audio was recorded. Rather than play the audio, the director/narrator listens to it with headphones and we hear his reaction.

That was a good move on the director’s part.

The director also offers some good advice to Treadwell’s friend who inherited the tape – destroy it.

That’s sound advice, no pun intended.

This is one of those films in which you almost feel guilty about your reaction. Treadwell was naive, somewhat deranged and ultimately got eaten by a wild animal. Maybe we should feel bad for him and the loved ones he left behind.

But I didn’t. All I could think about was his stupidity.

His death was no more surprising than if he had jumped out of an airplane without a parachute.

The only surprise is that it didn’t happen sooner.

I was also angered by the fact that he put others in danger. And not just his girlfriend, but any other person that might wander upon the bears that he had acclimated to the presence of humans.

Grizzlies aren’t exactly shrinking violets. But it’s possible they could be scared away from the unknown with enough screaming, hollering and rock tossing.

The bears that hung around Treadwell got the opposite training. Humans are harmless fun – and tasty snacks.

1 Comments:

Blogger geobell said...

23 June 06, 8AM:

My youngest sister, who lives in Montana, met Treadwell several years ago at an animal event in Bozeman. She recently told me the story about the grizzly having Treadwell for lunch, but I had forgotten about it. Treadwell, being a hardcore animal nut, was a folk hero to my sis. It takes all kinds....

8:15 AM  

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