David Hines (hradzka) wrote,
David Hines

Exit, pursued by a bear

Timothy Treadwell was a curious character: an accomplished college athlete who lost his scholarship following an injury; a hopeful actor whose greatest credit was coming second to Woody Harrellson for a part on CHEERS; a bipolar alcoholic who watched sentencing hearings at the courthouse in order to frighten himself into staying on the straight and narrow. A troubled man who sought a new life, and found it, in the wilderness, where he spent thirteen happy summers observing, and filming, wild bears. He found happiness, and a measure of celebrity, and a reason to live.

Then a bear ate him.

I caught the film Grizzly Man tonight. I recommend it highly. Director Werner Herzog combines Treadwell's footage, some of which is truly remarkable, with interviews and Herzog's own narration, to excellent effect. Some moments come off a bit awkwardly, as interview subjects ham it up for Herzog's camera, but that's not out of keeping with Treadwell's own approach; after you see him in his element, for example, the camera-hogging coroner's manner doesn't seem nearly as affected. Treadwell's dialogue is florid and endlessly quotable, as in the sequence which sees him praying for rain so that the salmon will run and the bears can eat: "[Name of bear] IS EATING HER BABIES! Come on! Jesus boy! Christman! Allah! Hindu... Floaty Thing!"

Treadwell was not exactly a rocket scientist. Putting it bluntly, the man was more than a little mad. But he had a gifted eye for composition, and a talent with animals -- even if, in the end, that talent failed him, and his frequently-professed love for the animals was not so much about truly understanding them as it was escaping his own pain. When he talks most movingly about his troubles, it's not directly to the camera, at which he is occasionally given to rant, but to a fox. Treadwell, I should note, is petting the fox. And the fox, half asleep and long accustomed to his presence, is letting him.

If he had only stuck to foxes.

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