Sunday, May 12, 2013

Of a Grizzly Man & a Superb Filmmaker


The film opens with a typical blonde, decent looking American guy talking to umm, yeah huge, brown, grizzly bears a few inches away. Yes, it was a kind of revelation for me as to what extent of craziness people can go, while watching this documentary called The Grizzly Man. Directed by renowned filmmaker Werner Herzog, the documentary chronicles the life and times of Timothy Treadwell, a grizzly bear enthusiast. The film starts off with the glorification of Treadwell, his bravado and his undying love and concern for grizzly bears in Southern Alaska. The narrative revolves around Treadwell’s capturing of video footage of grizzly bears, which spans almost around 100 hours. What was interesting was that the film started with glorifying Treadwell and it gradually portrayed him in a completely different light, albeit very subtly. Initially, it appears as if how amazing Treadwell is, what fantastic work is he doing. Gradually, the paradox and irony and absurdity in what he does is put forth. Treadwell’s motive in life seems to be protecting grizzly bears from poachers and hunters. From the latter part of the documentary it seems that there were hardly any. His constant depiction of himself as the sole protector of these bears is kind of appalling. More so, when the bears seem to be at complete ease without anyone’s intervention and under the protection of Katmai National Park and Reserve authorities. His behavior and proximity with such ferocious animals hangs on the brink of insanity. The bears, do not give a damn about him, while Treadwell, in his self appointed role as their protector even tries to divert the course of a stream so that the bears can get salmon. One of the interviewees in the documentary said that he got what he deserved. This is perhaps true to some extent because Treadwell was playing with death all the time, being with these bears. The fact that it did not make any difference to bears is reflected through Treadwell’s death, which was ironically at the behest of a grizzly bear. He even begs to god when the region is falling short of rainfall, so that the bears get enough food. Although inspite of all this, Treadwell’s courage needs to be applauded here.
All the madness and insanity perhaps throws light on the harsh truth that Treadwell was sort of disturbed and even had a skewed concept of the world. In the latter part of the documentary he despises the outer world, the human world and even flaunts the park rules, as self proclaimed protector of the grizzlies. To some extent that he has himself in every footage also points to the truth that he wants to be the centre of attraction always. All the same, despite some dramatization and some repetitions, the documentary was interesting.  I realized that getting a grip of your life and doing some serious soul searching is necessary otherwise I think everyone would become a grizzly man…