It doesn’t matter if you’ve already heard the ending—or even the details—of Grizzly Man [Lions Gate Entertainment]; the story of the self-made, renegade ecologist Timothy Treadwell and his retreat to the Alaskan wilderness where he lived, unarmed and mostly alone, with the grizzlies. It doesn’t matter if you’ve heard the ‘spoiler’: Yes, the bears ate him. And his girlfriend too.
The fact is, the movie Grizzly Man is less about Treadwell’s death and more of a celebration of his life. Constructed from Treadwell’s own videotapes spanning 13 Alaskan summers, interspersed with interviews by friends and those who knew him, and narrated by Director Werner Herzog, Grizzly Man is a gorgeous cinematic treat for animal lovers and anyone who can appreciate the beauty of landscape.
It’s hard not to like the Perry Farrell-esque Timothy Treadwell. He’s a bit hyper and weird, expressive, open, honest and childlike. His love and devotion for the bears (as well as the red foxes and other animals) pushed him to the edge, but mentally and potentially. He seemed to intuit and communicate with these bears in a way never done before. Over the years, however, Treadwell slipped into increasing paranoia and perhaps even madness--a madness that fueled his courageousness, his accomplishments, and ultimately led him to his demise.
It was, in fact, civilization that really killed Treadwell. On his way back home for the winter, an airline clerk gave him so much trouble over a ticket validation that he returned to the wilderness in disgust. Against his own warnings and knowledge, he threw himself and his girlfriend, Amie Huguenard, back into “the Grizzly Maze”, an extremely wild area, after the bears he best knew had already begun hibernation. The only bears left were older, meaner rogue bears, desperate for a last easy meal of easy-to-catch human flesh.
While it’s clear that Treadwell and Huguenard died a horrible, frightening and gruesome death, one doesn’t necessarily feel all that sad for the Grizzly Man (though Amie is a different story). Timothy Treadwell lived his life as he wanted, to the fullest and with the greatest joy possible. It’s obvious that the bears saved him from madness that would have consumed him far earlier in a ‘civilization’ of drugs, alcohol and heartlessness.
See Grizzly Man to experience some of Timothy Treadwell’s joy. Besides, these bears, on the big screen, will kick your ass.
Not Rated. Limited Release. www.grizzlyman.com