Monday, August 15, 2005

Grizzly Man, Review/Spoiler(?)

Have you ever made a silly face at yourself in the bathroom mirror?

Have you ever howled just b/c it feels really good?

Have you ever muttered under your breath as you walked away from a difficult situation?

Have you ever joyfully sung off-key using your loudest voice in the car?

Have you ever pounded your fists and screamed into the watery madness of the shower?

Have you ever emoted?

Well, you might also understand Timothy Treadwell. The difference is that Timothy did it all over 5 summers with a camera running, in the wilderness, with bears and foxes running around. He ventured to capture versions of each personal, emotional display in a rapid succession of takes, with him most probably anticipating input in the end editing process... edits that would paint him in a positive and stable light.

I would suspect that his rantings compared favorably with Jeff Corwin out takes if Corwin were passionate about a single cause.

Grizzly Man (Rotten Tomatoes, 94%) is the perfect name for this movie. I did wrongly go expecting more of the grizzly than of the man. That may have been an animal-centric March of the Penguin holdover. But that's not to say there wasn't plenty of grizzly: scat, swims, fights, hunting, competition, fishing, parenting, boredom.

This movie was about the man, the passionate idiot, the excitable addict, the crazed ecologist. His behavior was crazed, but he wasn't crazy, as some of the film's interviewees concluded. I think the writer/director, Werner Herzog, concluded the same as those interviewees.

Maybe that was b/c Herzog and his crew saw all 100 hours of TimothyVision, The Wilderness According to Timothy, The Up North Outback of Alaska. Or maybe that was b/c Herzog never made a face at himself in the bathroom mirror.

Reviews are largely positive. Some snips stand out:
"By the time Grizzly Man ends, you hope the grizzly bear that ate him took its time."-- Walter Chaw, FILM FREAK CENTRAL

"His film is a subtle and deeply moving tribute to a flawed idealist who saw kinship in bears' eyes, where Herzog sees only the abysmal indifference of nature."-- Maitland McDonagh, TV GUIDE'S MOVIE GUIDE

"A brilliant portrait of adventure, activism, obsession and potential madness that ranks among helmer Werner Herzog's strongest work."-- Scott Foundas, VARIETY

"Whatever you finally conclude about Treadwell, Herzog has made a one-of-a-kind movie."-- Eleanor Ringel Gillespie, ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION

"Although the film has sympathy for its subject's idiosyncrasy, Herzog makes it clear that he strongly disagrees with Treadwell's sentimental view of nature."-- Walter V. Addiego, SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE

"Grizzly Man is many things, including a much more resonant and complex portrait of TV-poisoned narcissism than Tarnation."-- Michael Atkinson, VILLAGE VOICE


In the Rotten tomatoes "About" folder, these segments stand out to me:

Even more fascinating are the times Treadwell turns the camera on himself, alternately testifying to his almost religious love for the grizzlies and revealing less exalted, all too human emotions, including vanity, rage, paranoia and loneliness. © Lions Gate Films

Timothy was very dramatic: it was the best day ever on the planet, or it was the worst day and the world was going to end. -Jewel Palovak, who controls the rights to Treadwell's archives as the co-founder of Grizzly People

Herzog also wanted to honor the actor Treadwell had wanted to be before he discovered bears. "There was such a deep desire in him to be a star, and so I gave him that space to be his own star."

Palovak believes GRIZZLY MAN presents a multidimensional picture of the man she knew long and well. "Not many people get to pursue their lives and their dreams and do it the way they want to, and Timothy Treadwell did. I hope people see themselves in Timothy in some ways; the film is about all the different emotions, about being a flawed person but still a happy and whole person when you're in your element."

She adds, "I think Tim really would have liked the film. It might have made him a little uncomfortable in places, just because he's showing himself so nakedly. But he would have liked GRIZZLY MAN because he was a fearless person in a lot of ways, and it's a pretty fearless movie."


What I believe is missing in the information released about the movie and the end of Timothy and Amie's lives are the aberrations which occurred that led to their demise.

1) He was in Alaska later in the season than ever before.

2) He had returned to the area b/c of a plane ticket problem, or he would have been out of Alaska. It didn't state it per se, but I believe Amie could have played the first round in the of saving her own life if she had used her ticket to leave.

3) The bears who knew Timothy were hibernating already.

4) The bears in the area had come from farther in the back country.

5) Food was more scarce b/c of the circumstances.

6) Bears were hungrier.

That's why Timothy Treadwell and Amie Huguenard died. They were at the right place at the wrong TIME, not just in the oversimplified wrong place. They were in the right place for Timothy. Amie wanted to be there for Timothy, so by default it was the right place for the both of them.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I was enthralled with the story on "Dateline"? last week. I had never heard of him before and I still think of the producer listening to the tape of them getting killed and as he was crying, he said that was the worst thing he had ever heard and apparently their death noises affected everyone who listened.

I imagined him turning the video camera on just as soon as he knew something was happening.

Very fascinating.

I hope you are well.