Werner Herzog’s documentary Grizzly Man is a story about the sad fate of the amateur researcher Timothy Treadwell, who for 13 years every summer had spent time in Alaska surrounded by grizzly bears, made lots of shooting and tried to prove by example the possibility of peaceful coexistence with predators.
His life was cut short in October 2003 by a huge bear. It ripped the researcher and his girlfriend during a trip.
The sad final of this story is not surprising. You can guess it in a tick at the fifth minute of the film after an eerie passage of the David Letterman show in which Letterman jokingly asked Treadwell: “Well, what, then, after some time, we may see a message about what you was eaten by the bear?”
Tim undoubtedly answered: – “No!”
He could not even imagine such a possibility … Treadwell believed and knew that in the animal kingdom, close to the bears he will be safe! Treadwell refused weapons as a defense in the emergency case.
In my opinion, Werner Herzog clearly expresses his disagreement with the worldview of his protagonist in this quote: “And what haunts me, is that in all the faces of all the bears that Treadwell ever filmed, I discover no kinship, no understanding, no mercy. I see only the overwhelming indifference of nature. To me, there is no such thing as a secret world of the bears. And this blank stare speaks only of a half-bored interest in food. But for Timothy Treadwell, this bear was a friend, a savior.”
The director in his work mixes Treadwell footage and his friends and others guests interviews. This technique has a profound effect on me. People who are interviewed seem to me very real validity of their arguments, they have a rational point of view. At the same time, Treadwell looks unnatural surrounded by wild animals. Nevertheless, he was trying to prove that there is his real home, but he still was in danger. Treadwell looks eccentric, and no one has supported his ideas.
Werner Herzog wants to show that Timothy Treadwell himself came up with a mission to protect the bears. As a result, it turns out that bears do not need to be defended, and all Treadwell activities brought more harm than good.
However, the main character should not be judged from only this point of view. To understand the character it is significant to take into account his own beliefs to and compare it. Unlike many people, he found the reason for being escaped from the realm of the people in the animal kingdom. Timothy left the vicious circle of social reality and became free. And let his happiness did not last forever, but the main thing is that he found real happiness.
Maybe, the act of a madman was too desperate, but his actions win people’s hearts. Werner Herzog said, “What remains is his footage. And while we watch the animals in their joys of being, in their grace and ferociousness, a thought becomes more and more clear. That it is not so much a look at wild nature, as it is an insight into ourselves, our nature. And that, for me, beyond his mission, gives meaning to his life and to his death.”
The film invites the viewer to journey into the world of nature and draw their own conclusions about the nature of human fears and our attitude toward life. Who really was Timothy Treadwell: the hero or the freak? He was a man threw a challenge to modern society or the man who imagined about himself too much and badly paid for it.
And what do you think?