Instantaneously entering you into a space of peace and tranquility we are drawn into a docudrama about a devastating and heartrending take on grizzly bear activists Timothy Treadwell and girlfriend Amie Huguenard, who were killed in October of 2003 while living among grizzlies in Alaska.
It centers upon amateur grizzly bear expert Timothy Treadwell who periodically journeyed to Alaska to study and live with the bears. He was killed, along with his girlfriend by a rogue bear during the autumn of October 2003. The film explores their compassionate lives and passion for living on the wild side as they found solace among these endangered animals.
Some would like to see ‘Grizzly Man’ as a morality tale, with the death of Timothy Treadwell an example for people not to follow. On the contrary, I see Treadwell as a tragic figure, not someone to be merely ridiculed and dismissed. Like a character in a play foreshadowing his own downfall, Treadwell repeatedly mentions the fact that his close proximity to the bears puts him in serious danger, and that he could be eaten if he is not careful. What Treadwell sees as his reason for existence and his greatest source of happiness ultimately destroys him. The film maker, Werner Herzog, portrays him as he really was, a multifaceted, complicated man, whose dreams sadly did not conform to our world.
The point of view retains from the analysis by people who knew of and followed his life story, concerning his actions and passionate living wild for grizzly’s. These viewpoints are controversial with some being supportive of his actions and life lived, whilst others condemning his choices and way of life terming his actions a delusion of ‘people dressed in bear costumes’.
The story telling technique enables an unbiased viewpoint showing both Treadwell’s personal documentaries and interaction with the bears. Activists who deem his actions negative out of danger and the viewpoints of family and friends who supported his awareness campaigns as the man who was ‘crazy about grizzly bears’.
The ethics and camera work is well constructed in terms of the documentary exploring the tragedy of the horrific event that took place on October 2003. Close-up and in-your-face shots exploring the event itself, vast amounts of establishing shots providing us with an essence of where the situation not only took place, but exploring the environment which was so special to Treadwell. This creates a very personal intake on his life with the aid of multiple voices both supporting and exploring his way of life and interaction on a new level with wild animals.
The editing and use of sound draws the audience in through the emotional and intriguing context of the story itself. We are presented with Treadwell and his story, and given snip-its as to the tragedy which occurred. Which the docudrama explores through various clips on the actual tragedy separated by reminiscing friends, investigation and his personal footage, so as to keep the viewer on edge and intrigued into what may happen next. Through exploring a sense of danger that Treadwell and his girlfriend lived through on a daily basis, which was otherwise unknown to the public eye. His hesitation to leave his own personal footage is key and represents a carried through notion and idea of waiting and suspense represented through this film. As well as the use of narration to guide the events and action.
The music is creative and sets the mood of intrigue, peace and heartbreaking emotion of reminiscing the hurt, misunderstanding and pain of the tragedy as well as struggle which Treadwell faced in trying to gain awareness for the bears. What remains is his footage, and the notion that it is not so much a look at nature, but a look at ourselves as human beings and our personal experience and take on what is really ‘wild’. It gives meaning to his life and to his death beyond this mission.
It was the only work he knew and ever did want. Treadwell waited, lived, loved and died for grizzly’s as he always said he would.
Watch the film documentary here