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Bearly Gods: A Review of Grizzly Man

By localroger in Culture
Sat Feb 18, 2006 at 12:00:00 PM EST
Tags: Movies (all tags)
Movies

For thirteen seasons Timothy Treadwell lived among the brown grizzly bears of Alaska's Katmai National Park. And at the end of his thirteenth season, one of the bears ate him. It was ironic and gruesome, more gruesome because the bear also got his girlfriend Amie Huguenard, most gruesome because his ever-present video camera was there to record the audio as its owners were killed.

Treadwell had collected hundreds of hours of video in his quest to protect the grizzlies by raising public awareness of them. Two years after his death it fell to film director Werner Herzog to assemble Treadwell's last footage, not into the story of bears that Treadwell intended, but into the story of Treadwell himself: Grizzly Man. It is one of the most powerful and fascinating movies I have ever seen.


Grizzly Man opens on a shot of Timothy Treadwell delivering a long, rambling, loony narrative about being a "gentle warrior" as a grizzly bear snuffles in the background. This is typical of Herzog's technique; although he forthrightly disagrees with Treadwell's philosophy, he allows Treadwell himself to form the worst impressions of his own personality.

Over and over, from the opening monologue to the footage shot only hours before his death, Treadwell emphasizes and even seems to relish the danger of what he is doing. "If you slip up you'll get eaten," he warns us, "Yep, down the gullet you'll go." He warns us that he is breaking the rules; "You should camp in the open; my camp is hidden. This is the most dangerous kind of camping there is." Elsewhere he asserts, somewhat hyperbolically, that he is in more danger than anyone on the planet.

Treadwell made a reputation for himself by bringing his infectious enthusiasm to classrooms and auditoriums, and later to talk shows. He famously told David Letterman that grizzlies were "just big party animals." For the last five of his thirteen seasons he brought the video camera, and this is what attracted the attention of Werner Herzog. For whatever his failings might have been as a human being or bear expert, Treadwell captured video of astonishing power and beauty. Treadwell may be dead, but these images are his enduring legacy.

Leaving the World

Herzog goes into Treadwell's past, interviewing his parents and old friends, but until he met the bears he was maddeningly normal; there is nothing to indicate where this obsession might have arisen or why it had such power over him. He was a failed actor turned, by his own admission, to drink and drugs. Had things turned out a little differently the story of his life might have been another movie. But somehow he made his way to Katmai, found the bears, and determined that they needed a protector who wasn't "a messed-up person."

Whether the bears needed a protector is an open question; the park service says poaching is a minor problem at most and that the population is stable. Treadwell's supporters and the organization he founded, Grizzly People, disagree. But in his one encounter with actual human interlopers, Treadwell cowers in the bushes afraid to reveal himself. These humans are no hunters, but even as they throw rocks at one of his beloved bears to provoke it for their cameras Treadwell frets and videotapes but does not intervene. It seems that the protection Treadwell hopes to offer is more spiritual than physical. By blurring the line between the bear and human worlds Treadwell seems to hope that humans will, overall, be forced to pay more attention and take better care of the bears and their habitat.

But as he insinuated himself more and more into the world of the Katmai bears, Treadwell seemed to lose touch with the world of humans. At times Treadwell uses his camera the way some people use blogs, venting his feelings with a candor he would certainly have edited away if he had lived. In one rambling monologue he frets about his love life. "And I'm pretty good, well, you're not supposed to talk about that but I think I am," he sort of brags about his sexual prowess. "So why do I have such trouble with women?" (Uh, dude, do you think it might be the obsession with bears?) Elsewhere he delivers a blistering condemnation of the Park Service, and the individual employees that have worked with him over the years. Most eerily, although he is with his girlfriend he elaborately maintains the illusion that he is completely alone, even troubling to explain how it "hits you" as the plane flies off.

Gods Upon the Earth

Early in the movie a succession of interviewees opine that Treadwell's obsession with the bears was a form of religion. This certainly makes more sense than any other theory. Treadwell's mental model of the bear certainly doesn't have much to do with, well, bears. And this is where Herzog draws his sharpest and most poignant observations.

After showing us Treadwell's descent into the world of the bear—one interviewee says "he would woof at you"—Herzog tells us, "I have seen this madness on the studio set." This is a powerful understatement; if you happen to know that Herzog made Fitzcarraldo, you would understand that Herzog has not just seen this madness, he has been possessed by it himself. In fact, his own obsession was documented just as he documents Treadwell's. So he is no stranger to this phenomenon, our director and narrator.

Treadwell says of the bears, "everything about them is perfect." But this image of perfection doesn't seem to include some perfectly common aspects of bear behavior, such as males killing the cubs to bring females back into estrous, or females cannibalizing their own cubs in lean times. Treadwell's view of nature in harmonious balance does not include fox cubs being preyed upon by wolves. Ever a ray of sunshine, Werner contrasts Timothy's worldview with his own: "I believe the common character of the universe is not harmony, but hostility, chaos and murder." Days before his death, Treadwell films what may be the very bear that killed him, and Werner says: "I look into this blank stare and see only a half-bored interest in possible food; Treadwell saw in the same gaze a friend, even salvation."

The Wikipedia page says that Treadwell was in the park late in the season 2003 because of a "special circumstance." In Grizzly Man it is suggested that he was preparing to return to civilization when there was a dispute about the validity of his airline ticket. Rather than deal with this annoyance, typical as it was of everything he hated about the human world, he decided to return to his beloved bears. But now, late in the season, "his" bears were mostly in hibernation. The bears who met him were, as Herzog puts it, "new, scary bears from the interior." These bears were insufficiently prepared for the winter and desperate. They were, to put it bluntly, hungry.

Although he does say to the ever-present bloglike camera at one time, "Please don't let me get eaten by a bear," one is left with the impression that Treadwell may not have been all that disappointed in his manner of departure from this mortal coil. Indeed, this brings us back to a topic which isn't covered in the movie at all: Given that he was a drug and booze-addled failed actor looking for salvation, what in the hell dragged him to Alaska to find his calling with the bears? In his monologues Timothy makes it clear that he cleaned himself up after discovering the majesty of the bears, because they needed a "protector" who was not "messed up." How, then, did the messed-up person end up in Katmai National Park?

Did he originally go to Alaska to die? In all of his video monologues Treadwell shows a remarkable shallowness of observation, particularly in regard to matters of life and death. He is fascinated by and dwells on the potential for getting eaten by a bear. In my own mind I see Treadwell making his way to Alaska with the thought of not coming back half-formed, making his way to Katmai with the thought half-formed, recklessly approaching the bear as all the guide books tell you to never do, the bear rearing up like some god out of a comic book and then ambling off, Treadwell not being worth the bother when the salmon are running. And the drug and booze-addled failed actor drawing the conclusion so many others have drawn over the centuries: I must have been spared for a reason.

This is of course pure conjecture, but if it were true it would explain much.

The Cipher

The helicopter pilot who brought Treadwell back in a plastic bag says on film: "Treadwell got what he deserved. The tragedy was that he brought the girl along."

In all of Treadwell's footage there were only two blurry shots of Amie Huguenard. Amie's family did not cooperate with Herzog's venture, leaving him with a maddening absence of visuals about this person whose death was so intimately tied to Treadwell's, yet not nearly so ironic. Late in the movie Herzog shows us a third shot, given to him at the last moment in editing perhaps because it was being kept in evidence; it shows Amie ducking out of the shot as Timothy films a bear looming behind her. "Timothy's diary reveals that Amie was afraid of the bears," Herzog tells us as he freezes the frame, revealing her face for one brief instant in all of Timothy's hundreds of hours of film.

Herzog does not play the death tape for us. Instead, he lets the coroner describe it: Treadwell is yelling for help. Amie screams. Treadwell screams. You can hear Amie striking the bear with a frying pan. Finally, Treadwell says "Run. Amie, Run!" Perhaps realizing that he is really going to die he tells Amie to save herself. But Amie stays and continues to fight. The bear wanders off for a moment and Amie tries to tend to Treadwell's wounds. But then the bear returns, and kills Amie too.

Herzog seems to find Amie's behavior mysterious; Treadwell's diary and film make it clear that Amie was getting disillusioned and was likely to leave Treadwell soon. Why did she stay? I think this is a point where Herzog's usually clear vision failed him; it's very simple. There was nowhere for Amie to run to. She was all alone hundreds of miles from civilization, her camp invaded by a murderous bear, her protector dead, the spell that had kept him safe for thirteen years obviously gone if it had ever existed at all.

The Legacy

Timothy Treadwell's organization, Grizzly People, still exists. Treadwell's old girlfriend Jewel Palovak still runs it. When Jewel and Timothy met, as she relates on film, they were both working at a SCA-theme restaurant called Gulliver's. Jewel is just one of many people lifed from obscurity and inspired by Timothy's enthusiasm and his work.

Timothy's videos exist, and beyond Timothy's goofy Peter-Pan enthusiasm they remain powerfully beautiful.

And of course there is the one tape, recorded with the lens cap in place but the microphone open, full of the sounds of death which Timothy Treadwell never did understand were also a fundamental component of the natural world. Werner does not play the tape but he does listen to it, as Jewel holds the camera. After a few moments Werner looks at her. "You must never listen to this," he tells her, and she nods almost hysterically. "My advice is to get rid of it. Destroy it. If you keep this it will be the white elephant in the room for the rest of your life."

I wonder if she was able to follow his advice.

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Poll
Other Film References
o The Silence of the Bear Munchies 12%
o One Flew Over the Bear Turd 9%
o "I tawt I taw a gwiddwy beaw" 0%
o The Bear Witch Project 59%
o The Passion of the Park Service 18%

Votes: 32
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Timothy Treadwell
o Katmai National Park
o Werner Herzog
o Grizzly Man
o another
o movie
o Grizzly People
o Fitzcarral do
o documented
o Also by localroger


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Bearly Gods: A Review of Grizzly Man | 75 comments (70 topical, 5 editorial, 0 hidden)
repost from my diary (3.00 / 7) (#1)
by circletimessquare on Sat Feb 18, 2006 at 11:15:12 AM EST

http://www.kuro5hin.org/story/2006/2/5/154634/1689

Herzog Shot During Interview
By WENN|Friday, February 03, 2006

HOLLYWOOD - German director Werner Herzog was shot by a crazed fan during a recent interview with the BBC.
 The 63-year-old was chatting with movie journalist Mark Kermode about his documentary Grizzly Man, when a sniper opened fire with an air rifle.

Kermode explains, "I thought a firecracker had gone off.

"Herzog, as if it was the most normal thing in the world, said, 'Oh, someone is shooting at us. We must go.'

"He had a bruise the size of a snooker ball, with a hole in. He just carried on with the interview while bleeding quietly in his boxer shorts."

An unrepentant Herzog insisted, "It was not a significant bullet. I am not afraid."

BALLS OF STEEL!


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

One senses a weird kinship (2.75 / 4) (#2)
by localroger on Sat Feb 18, 2006 at 11:46:52 AM EST

There is a palpable tension in Grizzly Man between the part of Herzog that really likes and admires Treadwell, and the part that wants to cry "What an idiot!"

I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds -- J. Robert Oppenheimer
[ Parent ]
I was going to post a comment (2.50 / 4) (#4)
by LodeRunner on Sat Feb 18, 2006 at 02:21:11 PM EST

saying that the "Werner Herzog" link from the intro copy should have linked to your diary instead.

---
"dude, you can't even spell your own name" -- Lode Runner
[ Parent ]

Pfft, it was an air rifle (none / 1) (#14)
by LilDebbie on Sat Feb 18, 2006 at 10:38:49 PM EST

I've been shot by those before. Granted, it stings like a bitch, but hardly life threatening.

My name is LilDebbie and I have a garden.
- hugin -

[ Parent ]
you probably knew who was shooting at you (3.00 / 2) (#35)
by circletimessquare on Sun Feb 19, 2006 at 03:22:56 PM EST

and what exactly was shooting at you

i think if you were talking to someone in a civil environment, and you started getting shot by someone, by something, and you knew neither what nor whom, you'd be a little more distressed


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: (none / 1) (#61)
by BJH on Tue Feb 21, 2006 at 10:34:53 PM EST

There's a huge range of firepower covered by the term "air rifle", from BB guns for plinking cans up to small game hunting rifles with a muzzle velocity of 1000+ fps.
--
Roses are red, violets are blue.
I'm schizophrenic, and so am I.
-- Oscar Levant

[ Parent ]
fps (1.00 / 3) (#76)
by Prophet themusicgod1 on Thu Apr 20, 2006 at 03:39:44 PM EST

1000+ frames per second?! Man that's fast! ;)
"I suspect the best way to deal with procrastination is to put off the procrastination itself until later. I've been meaning to try this, but haven't gotten around to it yet."swr
[ Parent ]
Fucking A!! Plus link to video.. (2.66 / 3) (#20)
by sudog on Sat Feb 18, 2006 at 10:50:29 PM EST

Here's the RealMedia I just found a brand new respect for the guy..!

[ Parent ]
Herzog Helped Phoenix from Car Wreckage->link (none / 1) (#62)
by MrTulip on Wed Feb 22, 2006 at 05:24:06 AM EST

http://www.hollywood.com/news/detail/id/3478562 "The actor says, "I remember this knocking on the passenger window. There was this German voice saying, 'Just relax.' There's the airbag, I can't see and I'm saying, 'I'm fine. I am relaxed. Finally, I rolled down the window and this head pops inside. And he said, 'No, you're not.' "And suddenly I said to myself, 'That's Werner Herzog!' There's something so calming and beautiful about Werner Herzog's voice. I felt completely fine and safe. I climbed out. I got out of the car and I said, 'Thank you,' and he was gone." " tulip

[ Parent ]
Another typically good localroger piece (2.00 / 3) (#3)
by Enlarged to Show Texture on Sat Feb 18, 2006 at 01:58:24 PM EST

I hate movies, but I found this piece more than interesting enough to read all the way through. Anyone that can talk about a movie that well deserves my vote, and so this one will get a trip to the front page since movies will generate no shortage of discussion - just not from me. :-)


"Those people who think they know everything are a great annoyance to those of us who do." -- Isaac Asimov
I saw the movie (2.66 / 3) (#5)
by BottleRocket on Sat Feb 18, 2006 at 02:57:43 PM EST

What I saw did not leave me with the same impression. My take on the event was similar to the helicopter pilot's. In short, wild animals are unpredictable. This one grizzly bear eventually got sick of the presence of some pink weirdo, and hungry enough to eat him. End of story.

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Yes I do download [child pornography], but I don't keep it any longer than I need to, so it can yield insight as to how to find more. --MDC
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$B R Σ III$

Didn't get sick of him. :) (none / 1) (#17)
by sudog on Sat Feb 18, 2006 at 10:45:00 PM EST

It was a strange foreign bear that wasn't naturalised to Treadwell that ate him. Therefore, it didn't get sick of him. It just ate him.

[ Parent ]
Noman (none / 1) (#25)
by BottleRocket on Sun Feb 19, 2006 at 01:28:19 AM EST

In the movie, Treadwell even had a pet name for the bear. It was something like "Old Grumps" but I don't remember exactly. Those two were never on the best terms, and when they finally had their falling out, the grizzly turned out to be a less-than-ideal living companion.

Sometimes I would like to maul and eat my roommates, but so far I have kept my nose clean.

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Yes I do download [child pornography], but I don't keep it any longer than I need to, so it can yield insight as to how to find more. --MDC
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$B R Σ III$

[ Parent ]

Grumps didn't eat Treadwell (3.00 / 2) (#30)
by localroger on Sun Feb 19, 2006 at 10:46:40 AM EST

Although Treadwell does warn that one old bear could be dangerous, it is "bear 141" that was found with parts of Amie and Timothy in its belly. There is a general consensus (not universal admittedly) that 141 was not one of Treadwell's regulars. Toward the end of the movie Herzog shows footage shot by Treadwell of a bear diving for the few remaining salmon carcasses lying on the bottom of the stream; desperate and ominous behavior given the oncoming winter. Herzog says that Treadwell shot a lot of footage of this bear. It may be that this was a new behavior Treadwell hadn't seen and didn't really understand -- or if he did understand it, it may have quite appropriately scared the shit out of him.

I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds -- J. Robert Oppenheimer
[ Parent ]
Oops, IFI /nt (none / 0) (#41)
by BottleRocket on Sun Feb 19, 2006 at 11:13:12 PM EST


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Yes I do download [child pornography], but I don't keep it any longer than I need to, so it can yield insight as to how to find more. --MDC
$ . . . . .
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$B R Σ III$

[ Parent ]

Summary: (2.12 / 8) (#6)
by CodeWright on Sat Feb 18, 2006 at 03:17:10 PM EST

German director creates elaborate indirect snuff film. News at 11.

--
A: Because it destroys the flow of conversation.
Q: Why is top posting dumb? --clover_kicker

Wrong. (2.50 / 2) (#15)
by sudog on Sat Feb 18, 2006 at 10:43:01 PM EST

He never plays the death tape. Since there is no actual death in the film, it's not snuff.


[ Parent ]
Hence "elaborate indirect" = (2.66 / 3) (#23)
by CodeWright on Sat Feb 18, 2006 at 11:22:09 PM EST



--
A: Because it destroys the flow of conversation.
Q: Why is top posting dumb? --clover_kicker

[ Parent ]
Exaggeration and hyperbole. $ (none / 0) (#49)
by sudog on Mon Feb 20, 2006 at 01:42:23 PM EST



[ Parent ]
so? = (none / 0) (#50)
by CodeWright on Mon Feb 20, 2006 at 01:54:21 PM EST



--
A: Because it destroys the flow of conversation.
Q: Why is top posting dumb? --clover_kicker

[ Parent ]
The film isn't snuff. (none / 0) (#56)
by sudog on Tue Feb 21, 2006 at 07:45:40 PM EST

What I find amusing is when people such as yourself look at a piece of work that took months or years of hard work, careful planning, and an eye for simple beauty, and view it with contempt; if you're not going to contribute usefully, why are you pontificating in a forum like this?

Your post reminds me of those little miniature dogs that pee on strangers' shoes.

So.. why bother?


[ Parent ]

Somebody should sig that (none / 0) (#58)
by localroger on Tue Feb 21, 2006 at 08:28:33 PM EST

Your post reminds me of those little miniature dogs that pee on strangers' shoes.

I would sig it myself but, well, I got a sig already. Perfectly stated, though.

I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds -- J. Robert Oppenheimer
[ Parent ]

YFI (none / 0) (#60)
by CodeWright on Tue Feb 21, 2006 at 09:00:05 PM EST

where "IT" is taking yourself so seriously on fucken kuro5hin fer crissake.

i'm sure years of hard work went into Dungeons and Dragons the movie, but that doesn't mean it wasn't a steaming pile.

get a life (and some perspective).

--
A: Because it destroys the flow of conversation.
Q: Why is top posting dumb? --clover_kicker

[ Parent ]
That's it.. waste more of your own time.. (none / 0) (#64)
by sudog on Wed Feb 22, 2006 at 12:47:44 PM EST

..posting mindless drivel. Decry thoughtfulness as though it were some kind of venal sin. Make a false analogy while you're at it, and pretend to take the higher ground.

It's still no snuff film.


[ Parent ]

omgwtfbbq with lmaoyonnaise sauce! (none / 1) (#66)
by CodeWright on Wed Feb 22, 2006 at 12:53:26 PM EST

your panties are seriously in a knot.

you might want to see your doctor about that rectal obstruction... its clear that your sphincter muscles are exerting too much pressure on your head.

--
A: Because it destroys the flow of conversation.
Q: Why is top posting dumb? --clover_kicker

[ Parent ]
I'm not the one who can't let it go. :) (none / 1) (#68)
by sudog on Wed Feb 22, 2006 at 08:54:20 PM EST

And I'm sorry if you seem to be interpreting my notes as some kind of angry argument. Don't you remember me telling you that you're amusing?

Oh yes..

"What I find amusing is when people such as yourself[...]"

So please, do keep it up.


[ Parent ]

you realize, i'm just looking for replies, right? (none / 1) (#70)
by CodeWright on Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 12:03:07 AM EST

don't feed the troll and all that...

--
A: Because it destroys the flow of conversation.
Q: Why is top posting dumb? --clover_kicker

[ Parent ]
What a cop-out. $ (none / 0) (#72)
by sudog on Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 12:11:43 PM EST



[ Parent ]
hahahahahahaha (none / 0) (#73)
by CodeWright on Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 01:20:13 PM EST

unlike you (apparently), i have no stake in this.

i don't mind playing the buffoon.

--
A: Because it destroys the flow of conversation.
Q: Why is top posting dumb? --clover_kicker

[ Parent ]
Also, your sig is lame. $ (none / 0) (#65)
by sudog on Wed Feb 22, 2006 at 12:48:42 PM EST



[ Parent ]
also... (none / 0) (#67)
by CodeWright on Wed Feb 22, 2006 at 12:55:15 PM EST

...its clear with you in the wings that herzog has nothing to worry about if his current fluffer gives up his job.

--
A: Because it destroys the flow of conversation.
Q: Why is top posting dumb? --clover_kicker

[ Parent ]
That the best you can do? (none / 0) (#69)
by sudog on Wed Feb 22, 2006 at 09:31:40 PM EST

Gimme a break. I hear better insults from my elderly 90-something neighbour with altzeimer's who wanders around trailing a colostomy bag and forgetting his name.

Since it's clear you're determined to be as bland as week-old porridge, I suppose I'll have to go elsewhere for my entertainment.

And I had such high hopes for you. What a disappointment.

Plus your sig is still lame and the film still isn't snuff.


[ Parent ]

roflcopterz and lollerskatez (none / 0) (#71)
by CodeWright on Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 12:05:13 AM EST

you're STILL going off about that insipid excuse for a movie?

what are you, a frustrated furry whose idol was the grizzly man?

--
A: Because it destroys the flow of conversation.
Q: Why is top posting dumb? --clover_kicker

[ Parent ]
content-driven review (2.66 / 3) (#7)
by livus on Sat Feb 18, 2006 at 05:58:14 PM EST

Given that I expect you know a bit about storytelling, Localroger, I'm disappointed that this review is solely on what was in the film  and not at all on Herzog's storytelling methods.

You make one or two throwaway comments, (including one that makes Herzog sound more like Erol Morris) but there's no sense for me here of how the film is organised, what works, what doesn't, how much voice over Herzog does, how much actual appearance? Any reconstruction? Is it chronological?

All of this I can find out by watching it myself, but your analysis would have been pretty interesting.

---
HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

The film itself (3.00 / 4) (#10)
by localroger on Sat Feb 18, 2006 at 09:55:10 PM EST

The remarkable thing about the filmmaking of Grizzly Man is that it is barely there. It must have been an ongoing challenge for Herzog to keep from inserting himself into the story, especially given his own well-documented proclivity for obsession. For the most part he keeps a respectful distance, letting the principal characters and Treadwell's video speak for themselves.

From my perspective the interesting part of the film was the content; the parallels and contrasts between Herzog and Treadwell are only briefly visible. The film doesn't even have any of the dramatic reconstructions which have become all the rage in documentary filmmaking since The Thin Blue Line. Herzog basically points his camer at people and lets them talk, and splices in Treadwell's footage where appropriate.

He does have a deft touch with the pacing. When Treadwell is onscreen late in the movie yammering about how he would live in this place forever if he could, a simple subtitle announcing THE SPOT WHERE TREADWELL WAS KILLED DIRECTLY BEHIND HIM comes like a kick in the gut.

Of course the fact that a filmmaker of Herzog's esteem would make such an understated documentary itself says volumes about the topic and the filmmaker's relationship to it. Herzog is obviously torn between a deep respect for Treadwell, who braved dangers and gave his life to capture images of incomparable beauty, and the desire to go back in time and shake some sense into the goofball. I suppose it says a lot about Herzog's editing ability that he can convey that in such a limited format. As to the details of how he does it, well, I could explain it but it would probably work better for you to just see the movie. The review was written partly to encourage you to do just that.

I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds -- J. Robert Oppenheimer
[ Parent ]

yeah, it's on my list (none / 1) (#11)
by livus on Sat Feb 18, 2006 at 10:00:19 PM EST

thanks for taking the time to address my concerns.

---
HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

[ Parent ]
I saw the movie as well (2.66 / 3) (#8)
by minerboy on Sat Feb 18, 2006 at 07:00:42 PM EST

While it was a compeling movie, probably because of glimpse into the madness of Treadwell. It does show the irrational detachment that most people from nature. Of course, they wish they were connected to nature, feel deep down they should be, and believe that there is some spiritual power that will somehow provide all they might need. these are the same disfunctions that drive PETA, social vegetarianism (See for example, the scene where Treadwell cries over a young fox, killed by wolves), and other new age trends

Treadwell stands in stark contrast to Richard Proenneke Who spent a lifetime in the alaskan wilderness. The fact that Treadwell is the more well known of the two speaks volumes about about bankrupt values system of our society



Proenneke didn't promote himself (3.00 / 4) (#9)
by localroger on Sat Feb 18, 2006 at 09:08:03 PM EST

The thing about Treadwell is that he prosyletized. We may wonder that he did so so successfully, but he did not merely go to Alaska and hide for the rest of his life. He came back and wrote articles, gave lectures, and ultimately got himself on the Discovery Channel and Letterman. And, oh yes, don't forget the part where he gets eaten by a bear. Chances are, if Treadwell hadn't done that, I still wouldn't personally know who he is.

I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds -- J. Robert Oppenheimer
[ Parent ]
My comments. (2.50 / 4) (#12)
by sudog on Sat Feb 18, 2006 at 10:29:16 PM EST

"He was a failed actor turned, by his own admission, to drink and drugs. Had things turned out a little differently[...]"

The "turned, turned" word reuse is a little jarring. I wouldn't have noticed with anyone else, but since you so consistently keep from doing this in the rest of your writing, things like this end up sticking out more.

"It seems that the protection Treadwell hopes to offer is more spiritual than physical."

In reality, North American poachers are not murderers. It's just not worth the risk. Therefore, a human witness with a videotape who can point the finger may have protected these bears after all. In the Discovery Channel presentation of Grizzly Man, they presented additional footage shot from after the creation of the movie, and in the area where Treadwell had been camping they found a poached bear. That sucks.

"Most eerily, although he is with his girlfriend he elaborately maintains the illusion that he is completely alone, even troubling to explain how it "hits you' as the plane flies off."

Your quotes are mismatched; aside from that, though, his girlfriend was not with him for the entire time he was filming. She was only with him for a time before the end. He started filming long before he even got together with that woman. Therefore, that shot might indeed have been taken when he was alone.

Even if it wasn't, if you'd ever actually been up to a remote northern wilderness you'd be nodding your head to that line, girlfriend or no. It's not like camping in Yellowstone. It's more like being stuck on another planet. If you fall and snap a leg, you're most likely going to die. There is no help, no phone, no human contact. You are truly, completely dependent on your own faculties. Even a radio, which would intuitively seem like it would make you feel closer to civilisation, becomes a tantalising glimpse into a world you are no longer a part of—it becomes more a reminder rather than a comfort.

You use a double en-dash to signify an em-dash; however, with the use of the HTML entity &mdash ; you could have used the real thing. Most real browsers support it. At the very least, you probably shouldn't have surrounded the representation with spaces.

"Given that he was a drug and booze-addled failed actor looking for salvation, what in the hell dragged him to Alaska to find his calling with the bears?"

There are people in the north whom the locals like to call "lost souls." They leave civilisation to choose a lonely life and find solace in the soul-drenching solitude. It's difficult to explain the psychology of these people, but being in the north is a bit like being a lone human in amongst a small handful of other lone humans. You aren't forced into contact with other people. You can walk out into the bush—in any direction—and be completely confident in the fact that nobody will ever find you if you fall over and die.

"The bear wanders off for a moment and Amie tries to tend to Treadwell's wounds. But then the bear returns, and kills Amie too."

This is a common bear behaviour. Never assume that the bear is gone. Many of them are just off deciding how they're going to eat you with the least amount of effort. A bear in Yukon wandered off after breaking into a couple's home, only to come back later—climbing a nearby tree, smashing through the roof, and eating the wife.

That is not cool.

"I wonder if she was able to follow his advice."

She was not. The Discovery Channel special on Treadwell shows her admitting that while she never listened to the tape, she never destroyed it. At some point someone's going to offer her enough money to free it.

My biggest annoyance with the film was that it was never actually clear, from most sources, that Herzog decided not to include the death tape. Most people I know wanted to see the film just for that. Even watching the film, right up to the end, it never reveals that the director never intended to play the tape.

What a gyp.


Brief response (2.66 / 3) (#16)
by localroger on Sat Feb 18, 2006 at 10:43:06 PM EST

First, Herzog made it very clear that Amie was there when Treadwell filmed the "it hits you" bit as well as other bits deliberately skewed to create the impression he was alone. Herzog remarked on this, and he watched every minute of Treadwell's footage, so when he says it's jarring even in overall context I take his word for it.

The last time I tried to use HTML emdashes here (after a similar comment) they didn't work. They somehow get borked when you do an edit/refresh cycle.

Although there may have been a real risk to the bears that Treadwell's presence reduced, Herzog builds a good case that Treadwell was getting increasingly paranoid. This is an expected reaction giving his increasing obsession with living in bear-world instead of human-world. Even if he was "right" that poaching occurs it doesn't necessarily vindicate his obsessive breaking of rules and placing of himself in danger in order to address that risk. As long as the poaching does not significantly increase the harvest beyond the 6 percent that research shows is sustainable, it does not place the bear population at risk.

I must confess that I checked a few of the more obvious places to see if the death tape had surfaced, and was mildly surprised that it hadn't. If Jewel doesn't follow Werner's advice, then you're right, it's just a matter of time.

I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds -- J. Robert Oppenheimer
[ Parent ]

Aww... (none / 0) (#19)
by LilDebbie on Sat Feb 18, 2006 at 10:50:22 PM EST

If you ever find a copy of the tape, you will post HIREZ TORRENTS or may the curse of my people follow you to the grave and beyond.

My name is LilDebbie and I have a garden.
- hugin -

[ Parent ]
Dude. (3.00 / 2) (#31)
by NoMoreNicksLeft on Sun Feb 19, 2006 at 11:11:41 AM EST

Just go wank off to video of people jumping from the WTC towers and leave the discussion to the adults?

--
Do not look directly into laser with remaining good eye.
[ Parent ]
But I want variety in my pr0n! (none / 0) (#33)
by LilDebbie on Sun Feb 19, 2006 at 02:06:37 PM EST

As unbelievable as it may sound, watching the towers burn doesn't do it for me anymore.

My name is LilDebbie and I have a garden.
- hugin -

[ Parent ]
While I enjoy fake violence as much as anyone else (3.00 / 4) (#34)
by NoMoreNicksLeft on Sun Feb 19, 2006 at 02:17:47 PM EST

Seeing real people, even stupid ones, get killed is nothing I enjoy.

Sure, I really like it when Mel Gibson pretends that he can't take the torture just so he can get close enough to wrap his legs around the skinny vietnamese guy's head and crack his neck, only to explode out of some side room and start kicking major ass left, right, and center... but that's make believe.

Seeing some poor deluded nut think that bears are his gods, only to find out that they're hungry animals that don't seem to obey our unspoken laws about eating people, that's kind of gross. Thinking that if a stray cosmic ray hadn't fried neuron #171,909,435,459 when he was 14, or if his momma hadn't dropped him on his head as a toddler, that he might still be with us selling lowrate auto insurance in some little crackerbox of an office, that's sad. Ok, so maybe not that sad, oh fuck it. Yeh, I wanted to see his head chomped off to.

Christ. Bears eat things far bigger and meaner than people. They sometimes eat other fucking bears, for gods sake. What was the imbecile thinking?

--
Do not look directly into laser with remaining good eye.
[ Parent ]

If you're into that sorta thing... (none / 0) (#32)
by SoupIsGoodFood on Sun Feb 19, 2006 at 11:48:49 AM EST

I'm sure you can find it on rotten.com. Or at least something like it.

[ Parent ]
Woops.. lol. (3.00 / 3) (#22)
by sudog on Sat Feb 18, 2006 at 11:19:09 PM EST

Ah, I seem to have conveyed the wrong thing. I'm no Treadwell apologist. The guy was a fucking tool for being out there, and he did more harm to the bears by naturalising them to a human presence. I believe it was the stupidest thing he could have done if he wanted to protect the bears. I just wanted to address your poaching comment. You never talked about bear-human naturalisation in your article, and while Treadwell lost sight (if he ever had it) that naturalisation was a Bad Thing, he may actually have been right about the poaching thing.

I'd forgotten that he was with Amie for that shot; still, my point was that Treadwell's comment is still valid, even if he was just making it look like he was alone, even if he didn't actually feel it with Amie there. Normal people do feel that way even in among their own families, up there.

I am almost certain the tape has not been released to anyone yet.

That smilie-face painted on the rock and Treadwell's reaction to it was pretty hilarious. The guy was seriously messed up. How the hell could he interpret a smilie face and painted "Hello"s as a threat?! Jesus.

BTW, I didn't notice this in the edit queue..? Did you skip it?


[ Parent ]

Right about the smiley face (3.00 / 2) (#28)
by localroger on Sun Feb 19, 2006 at 08:51:21 AM EST

If there was one sequence that really emphasized that Treadwell was not just anthropomorphizing bears but also going seriously nuts, that was it.

The point about habituating bears to humans is good. Another point I wanted to put in but that didn't quite make it is that in my experience Treadwell is the guy who has made 13 passes at the crap table, has decided he can live in the casino forever, and keeps pressing his bets. He got lucky, mistook his luck for skill, and proceeded from there.

I did put this in edit for a few hours, when it got no comments I moved it to vote.

And hey, it was a good comment -- no need to apologize :-)

I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds -- J. Robert Oppenheimer
[ Parent ]

MDASH entities inserted. (none / 1) (#27)
by pwhysall on Sun Feb 19, 2006 at 03:45:24 AM EST


--
Peter
K5 Editors
I'm going to wager that the story keeps getting dumped because it is a steaming pile of badly formatted fool-meme.
CheeseBurgerBrown
[ Parent ]
Thanks! (none / 1) (#29)
by localroger on Sun Feb 19, 2006 at 08:53:18 AM EST

Do we know if the bug was ever fixed that caused them to evaporate on an edit cycle?

I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds -- J. Robert Oppenheimer
[ Parent ]
Dunno (none / 0) (#42)
by pwhysall on Mon Feb 20, 2006 at 03:41:50 AM EST

To be honest, I didn't even know there was a bug...

--
Peter
K5 Editors
I'm going to wager that the story keeps getting dumped because it is a steaming pile of badly formatted fool-meme.
CheeseBurgerBrown
[ Parent ]
Might be something about auto-mode. (none / 0) (#48)
by sudog on Mon Feb 20, 2006 at 01:24:19 PM EST

My usage of the amp; entity to describe an em-dash seems to get interpreted directly into an em-dash for some reason during my preview/post cycle. I had to put the semi-colon one space out from the mdash string.


[ Parent ]
According to the show on discovery, (2.33 / 3) (#21)
by xC0000005 on Sat Feb 18, 2006 at 11:10:05 PM EST

she did not destroy the tape. She said she couldn't destroy anything he made. My take on his story (worth what you paid for it) - Man with self destructive personality and addicitve needs trades drugs for danger, deludes self with visions of importance as his tenuous grasp on relatity slips away, seeks his ultimate purpose, only to find that it is to server as bear chow. Draw moral conclusions as necessary.

Voice of the Hive - Beekeeping and Bees for those who don't
I saw the same show, (none / 1) (#36)
by Brogdel on Sun Feb 19, 2006 at 04:57:10 PM EST

I found it interesting that they did not want anyone to hear the tape, yet they didn't want to destroy it. The guy said he would never listen to the tape again, yet he refused to destroy it. I bet it will be on ebay soon.

[ Parent ]
Facial Expressions (2.88 / 9) (#26)
by anno1602 on Sun Feb 19, 2006 at 03:03:09 AM EST

[...] Werner says: "I look into this blank stare and see only a half-bored interest in possible food; Treadwell saw in the same gaze a friend, even salvation."

I find both interpretations rather curious and they show that neither of the two have a good understanding of bears. Bears, not being social animals but rather spending most of their lives alone (what's the english term? rogues?), have little to no facial expression. That's what makes them so dangerous: It is not possible to see what a bear currently feels or thinks, it may be hungry, angry, calm or submissive, it may plan to pounce on you or want to cuddle up, it always looks the same. Both seeing friendship and seeing a "half-bored interest in possible food" is mere projection on the observer's part, there isn't anything in a bear's gaze to see.


--
"Where you stand on an issue depends on where you sit." - Murphy
you ever hear (none / 1) (#39)
by wampswillion on Sun Feb 19, 2006 at 05:49:48 PM EST

the song "bears" that lyle lovette sings?
wonder if this was treadwell's favorite song? even if it wasn't really about bears.

and i have to say THANK YOU!  i've been searching for maybe 4 years now for someone who has seen fitzcarraldo- but i could NOT remember the name of it correctly.  i kept thinking it was fitzcarrillo.  duh.   NOW, i can finally see this film and i can figure out a puzzle that once was put to me.  

i still haven't read your other story.  i do think it will be worth reading tho.  even if painful for me to read.  

Opening and closing are both about the eating (2.50 / 2) (#43)
by slaida1 on Mon Feb 20, 2006 at 06:24:19 AM EST

And from that I assume this isn't about the movie, bears, nature or other things. It's _all_ about the death, the eating, the fascination and horror of dying.

It's pretty obvious we western civilized people don't get enough death and violence since we always crave for more. Maybe it'd be better to just cut to the chase and call these stories what they really are: our daily doses of gore.

(Not you, Al. Sit down.)

Not entirely (none / 0) (#44)
by localroger on Mon Feb 20, 2006 at 07:40:37 AM EST

The eating is of course a central event here, as trhurler called it "the thirty second Letterman joke." But what lifts this story beyond the Fark ironic tag is the force that drove Treadwell to his doom.

It is Treadwell's half-baked bear-centered religiosity that both elevated him to international fame and doomed him. In some ways Treadwell is similar to other people who have died for their religious obsessions, but it is possible to examine Treadwell a bit more dispassionately than, say, Joan of Arc. It is clear from Treadwell's video that he is no deep thinker, so it is interesting to observe how his obsession drove him to a kind of greatness as well as to destruction.

And Herzog is the perfect person to assemble this narrative, because aside from their diametrically opposed life philosophies, they are very much alike. Herzog allows Treadwell to pillory himself through embarrassing video revelations, but he also reminds us repeatedly that Treadwell had a keen eye for where to point his camera and left us images that make our world a richer place no matter what a kook he might have been.

All in all, the beautiful thing about this movie is that it doesn't draw the simple conclusion. You can certainly see it that way if you want to, but there is much more to it than that. Treadwell was a simple, naive person caught up in something much more powerful than mere grizzly bears. He is far from the only one of us to be eaten alive by his obsession, even if he accomplished it more literally than most of us ever do.

I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds -- J. Robert Oppenheimer
[ Parent ]

The film isn't. We just expected it to be. (none / 0) (#57)
by sudog on Tue Feb 21, 2006 at 07:49:48 PM EST

The film itself isn't really about the death. I mean, you could say it is, but that would be the shallow interpretation of it, ignoring the rest of the work that went into the film. The death is the draw. The film itself is more about human nature and the north, and the bears' behaviour, than it is about the death itself.


[ Parent ]
Treadwell is a monster! (none / 1) (#45)
by JennyB on Mon Feb 20, 2006 at 08:52:41 AM EST

Treadwell got what he deserved These are the words that describe Treadwell. He is cruel man! Why has he brought Amie with him? It's him who killed her!

----------------------------------------------
Jessica B. As Fit as Fiddle.

Good review (none / 1) (#46)
by nebbish on Mon Feb 20, 2006 at 09:34:09 AM EST

I thought the film laboured the point a bit. It could have been at least half an hour shorter. The bits where Herzog talks to Treadwell's ex-girlfriend were boring and unnecessary.

I generally agree though, it's a fascinating film, sad and hilarious in equal measures with a depth rare in cinema at the moment.

---------
Kicking someone in the head is like punching them in the foot - Bruce Lee

Shardik (none / 1) (#47)
by minamikuni on Mon Feb 20, 2006 at 10:21:04 AM EST

There's a book by Richard Adams (more famous for Watership Down) called Shardik where the mail character worships a (real live blood-thirsty) bear as a god. You can read it thinking of the main character as a simpleton as deluded as Treadwell or as a holy prophet, depending on your bias.

Highly recommended, if you find that kind of thing interesting.

Mail character? (none / 0) (#59)
by BJH on Tue Feb 21, 2006 at 08:53:49 PM EST

What, he's a postman?

BTW Minamikuni doesn't make any sense; you want either Nangoku or Minaminokuni (unless you took it from a proper noun).
--
Roses are red, violets are blue.
I'm schizophrenic, and so am I.
-- Oscar Levant

[ Parent ]

Good stuff (none / 1) (#51)
by cibby on Mon Feb 20, 2006 at 07:28:58 PM EST

Another well written piece from l.roger

I've heard of that bear guy - and now I'd like to see this film!

Girlfriend? (2.50 / 2) (#52)
by dogeye on Mon Feb 20, 2006 at 09:17:37 PM EST

How did this guy attract a girlfriend?

Multiple girlfriends. (none / 0) (#53)
by localroger on Mon Feb 20, 2006 at 09:46:54 PM EST

It beggars the imagination, doesn't it?

I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds -- J. Robert Oppenheimer
[ Parent ]
a guess (none / 0) (#54)
by chroma on Tue Feb 21, 2006 at 12:47:07 AM EST

Did this dude exude the confidence of a man who is 100% certain of his mission in life? Women love that.

[ Parent ]
Much simpler than that (none / 1) (#63)
by jolly st nick on Wed Feb 22, 2006 at 09:29:05 AM EST

There's a 50/50 ratio of males to females on the planet, and most women don't like to share men. Therefore it follows that roughly speaking there's a woman for every man.

What keeps men single is not the unavailability of women, but fear of rejection. The fact sooner or later there's somebody who will say yes, doesn't mean that the first one will say yes, or any of the first ten.

It may be true that some women are irresistably attracted to self-confident men; but you can't ignore the fact that self-confident men try more frequently. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

[ Parent ]

"Bears are ungrateful, spiteful creatures (2.50 / 2) (#55)
by A Bore on Tue Feb 21, 2006 at 04:51:32 AM EST

But what can you do? We have to share a planet with them."

This is the stupid and shortsighted attitude of most environmentalists and green clowns. The bear problem can be solved with Science. It is quite simple to destory every bear alive today with conventional weapons, pack, say, 6 samples of their DNA on ice, and pop it into liquid nitrogen. We could easily harvest and store bear eggs and sperm for such a time as there are no space constraints ie. when we colonise other earth like planets through faster-than-light travel, and in the meantime, the ongoing costs of bear storage would be far less than the economic costs of bear behaviour.

Also, Werner mixes metaphors in your final sentence. What sloppy work.

The reason the "death tape" was omitted (none / 1) (#74)
by hardcorejon on Fri Mar 10, 2006 at 08:02:51 AM EST

A long while ago, after the death but before the film was released, I heard an interview with the director on NPR. If I remember correctly, Jewel (as the owner of the tape) would not permit it to be included in the film. Her compromise was to allow the scene of him listening to the tape to be included.

Personally, I don't think Jewel would ever sell the tape. We'll have to wait and see what her heirs decide to do, if anyone is still interested in the story that many years from now.

- jonathan.

MLP: news article from the incident (none / 1) (#75)
by hardcorejon on Fri Mar 10, 2006 at 09:12:27 AM EST

Pretty disturbing stuff:
http://www.adn.com/front/story/4118880p-4134149c.html

Among the last words Timothy Treadwell uttered to his girlfriend before a bear killed and partially ate both of them were these:

"Get out here. I'm getting killed.''

Words caught on a tape recording of the attack also reveal Treadwell's girlfriend, Amie Huguenard, shouting at him to play dead, then encouraging him to fight back.

...


Bearly Gods: A Review of Grizzly Man | 75 comments (70 topical, 5 editorial, 0 hidden)
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