← Back to Reviews
\

Grizzly Man


Grizzly Man



This is a documentary about Timothy Treadwell, a man who lived among bears for 13 summers straight until his demise in 2003 at the hands of a bear.

The only word that can be used to describe this documentary is disturbing. There is no silver lining to this documentary. It is all very sad. It is directed by Werner Herzog and by looking at his filmography you can tell why this subject interested him. The film has a very grim look at life.The true tragedy of this documentary is the subject himself. He is a failed actor from California. A failed audition for a part he really wanted is what finally broke him. So he decided to leave California and head to Alaska bear sanctuary and live around bears. In the beginning of the documentary it feels like he is a crazy person who lost his way in life and is just wandering through jungle and could be killed at any moment. But slowly you realize that the artist in him had to come out anyway it can. Its very sad. He couldn't get acting jobs in California and so he went to Alaska in search of a place where he could feel special and unique compared to millions of failed artists in California. So he decided to do something that most people wouldn't dare try. That's the core of artists mindset. They want to do something that gets attention. But the price they are willing pay is what differentiates normal people who can never achieve insane amount of wealth and fame from artists who do.

The whole sanctuary is pretty dangerous. It is in the middle of nowhere and its vast. The beautiful landscape is in stark contrast to the deadly wildlife that lives in it. The thing about bears is that they don't particularly look scary by themselves. But they are some of the most dangerous predators on the planet. Something like a Tiger or a Lion don't look at human's as food. They are very territorial and their goal is to subdue whoever enters their land. So big cats maul. But bears are the only land animals that look at human's as food. The thing about wild animals, especially bears is that they are ruthless and in-compassionate. When they look at you, they don't look at a friend or an acquaintance even though you have been around them for years. They look at you either as a prey or non-prey. The same thing happened to Timothy. He went there for several years but all along he was just a new unknown thing to them. That's the unique thing this documentary brought to the medium. Most wildlife national geographic documentaries are dispassionate about putting their fingers on ruthlessness of nature because they fear losing support from humans in supporting wildlife both financially and ecologically. But Werner Herzog is not that. He is a filmmaker that wants to say what he wants to say.

Midway through the movie Herzog shows the footage of two wild bears fight for dominance. It is the most aggressive,primal and raw bear fight ever captured on camera. One has to follow bears for 100s of hours to get a footage like that. The fight is so brutal that you can see the fur on their skin being ripped apart and fall down. Moreover one of the bears takes a crap mid fight and keeps going. What the filmmakers intend to show through this footage is just how ruthless the bears are and they are nothing more than a wild animal that either kills you or doesn't. Bears are huge. One of the main things the director explores through the movie is the disconnect between humans and animals and why its all for nothing. Throughout his stay in Alaska, Timothy thought that he is helping and saving the bears. But what he failed to realize is that his desire to help or save bears is extremely superficial and selfish. He wanted to feel special and has a higher purpose. So he started pretending like he is taking care of bears. He might be honest to himself but as a whole it felt very self servicing. As someone in the documentary put it, he did more harm than good being there.

When I watched this documentary I didn't know how famous this guy was. Apparently he is a bit famous. He appeared on Letterman show. So due to his popularity there is certain intrigue in the way he was killed and people started to look for the mysterious circumstances in which he was killed and mythical irony in all this. So I was genuinely surprised to see lot of conspiracy articles on the web related to his death. Here are the facts. On the day of his death he was accompanied by his girlfriend. It is the end of spring. So they have to leave because of the climate, bears go into hibernation and he has no purpose staying there. Since he has been living there for several years, he is able to identify and distinguish different bears. Some are more friendlier than others. As the legend goes, on the last day of his stay there Timothy got into a fight with an airline attendant and decided to get back to the park and stay there for a week and then leave the sanctuary. So, him and his girlfriend camp in a location which is essentially a grizzly maze. By doing so they are at the park later than usual.They should have left the sanctuary by then. What apparently happened is, all the bears they knew went into hibernation and a number of new bears started moving into the location that late into the year. Ironically one of the last bears timothy captured in his video footage seems to be struggling to catch a fish and had to swim deep into water to get a dead salmon. That in a way indicates desperation in the bear and hunger. The speculation is that the last bear he caught in his camera footage is the one that killed him. Bear tend to eat a lot of food before hibernation. The conspiracies come from the fact that had he not gone back to the sanctuary he would have survived and fate made him to go back. Moreover it was just a day before he asked a passenger flight to come pick him up. So freedom was so close when he lost his life.

My theory is this. He is a guy who for his own selfish reasons went to Alaska. He wanted attention because he is an artist at heart. If not hollywood he will go find fame somewhere else. Once in Alaska, going into sanctuary with guns seemed too tame for him. He wanted to feel more special than any human alive so he threw safety out of the window. Theoretically speaking, going from california to alaska is too big of a lifestyle leap for his fate to catch up. So he entered Alaska with a lot of luck. I mean, what are the odds that a struggling actor in Los Angeles will end up in Alaska. So, for god to rearrange his fate and time of death it took 13 years. Once inside the sanctuary, he went unnoticed because bears already have been living without him and so they didn't need him. Moreover they had plenty of food. The footage over multiple years contains lot of videos where he is sad and frustrated. But the reasons for frustration is not what he says it is. He is a guy who is mad at the world for dealing him a bad hand, but he claims to be angry over the treatment of wildlife by humans. It almost feels like he doesnt wanna face the truth that he is a failed artist. On the fateful day it was a combination of his personal demons bubbling to the surface along with his girlfriend being unsatisfied with his life that led him to test his luck by setting up a tent in grizzly maze. It is always advised to set up tents where bears can see them from far so that they can stay away from the tents. But setting up in the grizzly maze means that the bear won't see the tent until its too close. All these circumstances fell in place for a hungry grizzly to eat him and his girlfriend. A hungry desperate bear is the most dangerous predator. The way they operate is simple. Once they are hungry, they come and snatch a person with no hesitation. Bear is the only predator that keeps charging even if it hears a gunshot. They just wander and wander nearby and suddenly they come and snatch you away. So before they knew it, Timothy and his girlfriend were eaten by grizzly. I was never surprised that his girlfriend died while trying to protect Timothy instead of escaping because a girl who dates a guy like Timothy and willing to spend several days with him in a bear infested sanctuary is already screwed up in the head. So the only rational way it could have ended is what happened in the real life.