Grizzly Man

As part of the newly-established and awkwardly-named Monday Night Movie Night, we summer Morrisites watched this, while eating homemade soft pretzels:

I had heard the story before.  My parents, who honeymooned in Alaska, subscribe to Alaska Magazine.  I remember reading, several years ago, about Timothy Treadwell and his tragic death.

After watching “Grizzly Man,” a documentary about Treadwell’s life with and ultimate death by the bears, I went into the kitchen to help clean up the piles of spilled flour and bits of dough.  “He didn’t do anything!”  I ranted.  “He was out there by himself, not protecting the bears from anything, really.  It was more for him than for them!”

Mark, coming in with hands full of empty cups, said quietly, “It made him happy.”

I guess it did.

I don’t know that I can recommend the documentary, purely because I feel it’s poorly made.  Interviews were conducted rather awkwardly, and even thought the subjects often had profound, interesting stories about Treadwell, I missed their meaning as a viewer because they were posed strangely, or they were grossly animated when describing the audio tape recording of Timothy and Amie’s death.  In fact, I got the distinct feeling that the director was often poking fun at Treadwell.

Yes, Treadwell was a character.  Yes, he could be silly, and outrageous, and bafflingly affectionate toward the bears.  But the documentary, as a testament to his life’s work, focused a great deal on what Treadwell did wrong, even going so far as to include the director’s commentary on Treadwell’s failings:  He was paranoid about nonexistent poachers, he ventured too close to the bears, he tampered with nature’s course, he viewed the bears as ultimately peaceful creatures who could be somewhat tamed with kindness and patience.

Yes, but it made him happy in an Alexander Supertramp kind of way.  That’s what I would have liked to have taken away from the film.