My surefire remedies for a cold seem to be working but at a slower pace than normal...
As part of my recovery I'm forced to sit in my chair and watch movies...Okay I wasn't actually forced, but it sounds much better than saying I'm sitting around doing nothing. Anyway, as part of my moviefest I decided to watch Grizzly Man, a movie documenting Timothy Treadwell's life and death. The movie includes footage taken by Treadwell himself, and narration from many, many others. Now, I had never heard of Timothy Treadwell before and only decided to watch because it was billed as a moving docudrama about a man and his girlfriend who lived among the brown bears of Alaska and were eventually killed by them. Okay, now who wouldn't be intrigued by that!
It's hard to explain why I found this movie so fascinating, particularly since I couldn't sit still through it and was bouncing back and forth getting drinks, washing a dish or two, feeding the cats, returning phone calls, etc. Then I would hear something in the background that caught my attention, I would return to the tv and rewind to watch what I had missed. While the movie replayed, I would search the net for references to Timothy Treadwell...So why was I still drawn to it when I could barely watch it? Well, because Timothy Treadwell was so disturbed I found myself compelled to watch.
First, a quick synopsis of Grizzly Man by Werner Herzog
Timothy Treadwell and his girlfriend Amie Huguenard visit the Katmai National Park and set up camp to study the brown bears as they make their last attempts at a salmon run as they ready themselves for hibernation. I don't know how long they are there, but on October 6th, just hours before they are to be picked up both Amie and Timothy are killed in a bear attack.
Herzog intersperses interviews with many different people regarding their views of Timothy with Timothy's own footage documenting his works with the bears. Through Timothy's footage you see a broken and troubled man, or at least I did. He talks to the bears sometimes like a mother talking to a baby and other times as though he is in love with the bears. In the interviews you find two types of people; those in love with Timothy and those who felt his death was just.
Timothy's life and his thoughts are intermittently revealed in his own footage. Turns out Timothy was once up for the role of Woody on Cheers. According to Timothy, he was the second choice, and losing that role to Woody Harrelson started his downward spiral into booze and drugs. From there, Treadwell says he tried many methods and programs to kick the addictions, but it wasn't until he found bears that he found a way out. He decided someone should protect the bears and that someone had to be himself. But, in order to be a proper protectorate he needed to clean himself up, and so he gave up his addictions.
As for Herzog, well he seems just as fascinated and lost as I am in understanding Timothy Treadwell, perhaps that's why he made this bizarre docudrama.
Okay so that's the movie in nutshell, but here's a few interesting tidbits:
1) When Herzog interviews people about Timothy's death, many of them say he got what he deserved. How a nutcase who thinks he should live with the bears and learn more about them could ever DESERVE to be eaten alive by a bear is beyond me, but apparently some people think he did. The emotionless way they say that he got what he deserved is unreal. Sam Egli, a helicopter pilot, assists after the Treadwell tragedy. Just one of his comments for your reading pleasure, "To me he was acting like he was working with people wearing bear costumes out there,instead of wild animals...He got what he was asking for, he got what he deserved, in my opinion. The tragedy of it was taking the girl along with him. I think the only reason Treadwell lasted as long as he did in the game was that the bears probably thought there was something wrong with him, like he was mentally retarded or something."
2) Timothy calls himself a protector of the bears, and yet he spends the majority of his time at the Katmai National Park, which is a national preserve. Okay, maybe I don't understand the word preserve, or I'm missing something, but shouldn't there be a rather minimal need for protecting bears in an area set up to protect wildlife? Treadwell claims there were poachers in the area, but those reports have been unsubstantiated.
3) Okay this has nothing to do with the story of Timothy Treadwell, but I find it bizarre. Many of the people in the movie sound exactly like well known actors and actresses. Some of them even have weird resemblances to famous actors. It's as though Timothy surrounded himself with stand-ins for movies.
There were comments that the movie was created in such a way as to make him look like a nutcase, but honestly, he looks like a nut because of his own footage, not because of anything else that is documented in the show. Granted, there are a lot of weirdos in the film. I don't know how else to describe them. Even the guy who performed his autopsy turns all theatrical and starts talking of how he envisions the last moments of Timothy and his girlfriend's lives.
Apparently, when Timothy was being mauled, a camera was turned on. However, the lens cap was on the camera so there is only an audiotape of their final moments. In the audiotape it is said that you can hear Amie yelling to Timothy to play dead, then yelling at him later to fight back. During the encounter, which lasts about 6 minutes, Timothy also shouts for Amie to hit the bear with a frying pan, and then for her to run because he's being killed. You never get to hear any of the tape, and Werner Herzog advises Jewel (Timothy's ex girlfriend and business partner) to destroy the tape and never listen to it. There are excerpts of it out on the net, and probably a whole transcript, although I didn't find one, but I didn't look too hard.
I'm bopping all over, but this movie really had my mind racing. I guess what I saw was a man who was so lost that he needed to find a purpose to his life. He decided his purpose would be about caring and protecting bears, and yet I felt his underlying desire was to create a film where he was the star.
Even his friends remind me of wannabe actors. Jewel, who also co-produced the film, comes across as a Cameron Manheim clone, not in looks but in voice and demeanor. There's also an Alan Arkin clone and various others. Like I said before, even the guy who performs his autopsy manages to get in a theatrical soliloquy.
Then there was another weird moment in the movie, where he was talking to the camera and I found myself thinking..."Is this guy gay, he seems so effeminate?" No sooner had the thought penetrated my mind when the movie suddenly shifts to Timothy talking about his sexuality and how he loved being straight and loving women. And how it would be so much easier if he had been gay. It freaked me out I tell ya! Not because he seemed gay, but it was like someone was reading my mind and decided to answer me. Obviously even Werner Herzog felt there was something about the preceeding shot that made one wonder about his sexual orientation. But honestly, isn't it weird that during a movie about bears I'm suddenly wondering if a guy is gay or not? Anyway, that's just one of the moments that show Treadwell as lost.
If you bypass the odd things then off and on you see some amazing footage. I particularly loved watching nutball Timothy and his friends the foxes. He plays with them, talks to them, chases them, swears at them, it's hilarious and yet beautiful. Actually, if Timothy had lived, I would have advised him to air his footage with no sound. It's his ramblings that make everything seem less important. Not only does he come across as a freak but paranoid as well.
Okay I don't think I can actually add anything else of worth to this post, you just have to watch it for yourself. Someone out there go watch it and come back and tell me what you thought!
PS Gruesome footnote: Although there has been controversy surrounding whether or not the bear they killed is actually the one that killed Timothy, it remains a fact that the bear did at least eat part of Timothy and his girlfriend. At least 4 large bags of body parts and clothing were removed from the 1000+ lb bear.