A Little Late: Herzog by the Years

November 30, 2010 § 1 Comment

A little bit late, but in case you hadn’t done your reading up on the famous Werner Herzog:

He was born the same year as Bambi is released, the fight in Guadalcanal begins, and we first begin using DDT on crops.

He made his first feature film the year winter Olympics were held in Grenoble, France, Martin Luther King is assassinated, and the American public opinion turns against the war.

His first son was born the year of the Watergate Scandal, the DEA was founded, and the first hand held phone was used.

He made Grizzly Man the year GW Bush was kept in office, Hurricane Katrina hit, and suicide bombings were getting worse.

He was shot by a rifle (and lived) the same year as Saddam Hussein is sentenced to death, the winter Olympics were held in Italy, and North Korea conducts a nuclear test.

A Worthy Cause

November 25, 2010 § 2 Comments

We all know that Timothy Treadwell constantly exclaimed how he was going to “protect the grizzly bears from poachers” who would kill them for sport while he was out in the wilderness.  But then I have to wonder, why wasn’t a single poacher in the finished film?  Now I’m not trying to discount Treadwell’s purpose out in the Alaskan wilderness: it takes a special kind of bravery to spend every day and night in the proximity of grizzly bears without any self-defense precautions such as weapons, an electric fence, bear spray, etc.  I feel that Treadwell’s purpose out there transcended any preservative causes that he constantly talked about.  Now don’t get me wrong; he clearly started a movement and spread awareness about grizzly poaching in all of his visits and talks at schools and commercials (he even received sizeable donations from celebrities).  However, I believe that Treadwell needed the grizzlies more than the grizzlies needed him.  Treadwell’s profound love and care for the bears was, in this writer’s opinion, unrequited in magnitude.  His rather dark past involving substance abuse and violence was cast away when he moved to Alaska and finally found a measure of peace.  He confided in the Grizzlies, bonding with nature and purifying his lifestyle of the human corruptions (guns, drugs) that once plagued him.  The grizzles saved Treadwell’s life from a downward spiral; they lifted him up and helped him rediscover himself.   I doubt any of the grizzles really understood the impact that they had on turning Treadwell’s life around.  I personally feel that Treadwell braved the Alaskan wilderness simply because of his profound love for them alone and not  for their protection

Mocking the Bears

November 17, 2010 § 2 Comments

There is no questioning the bravery of Timothy Treadwell. He choose to live unarmed and unprotected with bears for over 36,000 hours. I agree with him when he says there must be something special about him that kept him alive all this time. He crossed the boundary between bears and humans ultimately  living more in their world than in the human world. To him, the bears were is friends and family and the alaskan wilderness was his home. I respect his love of nature, but question his motives for living with the bears and his actions towards them.

He called himself, the protector of the bears. While yes, there is a small amount of bear poaching going on in the world, for the majority of his summers, Treadwell “protected” the bears on a national park where they were already protected. I agree with the article “Exit pursued by a Bear” written by David Edelstein in that Treadwell idealized the bears. Throughout the movie he expresses his emotions towards the bear saying “I love you! I love you!” and naming them Mr. Chocolate and Freckles. These are names of endearment. Treadwell suggests that he fits in their world better then human world. The bears are Treadwells life’s mission and he is ok with that.

However, the reality of grizzly bears is that they are huge dangerous animals who have no consideration or respect for human life. This is ultimately what killed Treadwell. To him, the bears were his family, but to the bears, Treadwell was nothing but food.

His mission was to educate the world about Grizzly bears. He did this by showing their “lovable” side, if you can call it that. Treadwell filmed his interactions with the bears where he is attempting to pet them. I think that this is a horrible educational technique. Bears are meant to be respected from a distance not befriended. By teaching the children that bears “can be” friendly to an extent, Treadwell is undermining the isolation and freedom of the bears. Throughout the film he is trying to force the bears to be something that they are naturally not.

In watching the film, I gained no love for the bears. Ultimately, it was the lovable characteristics foxes that stood out to me.

Grizzly Man Crazy Man

November 15, 2010 § Leave a comment

One of the most interesting points that I have discovered about Timothy Treadwell, which was written in a document titled “The Man Who Loved Grizzlies,” is Tim was not solely infatuated with bears. He was in fact “polymaniacal,” the opposite of “monomaniacal.”

We generally see people who are so dedicated to a cause that they would risk their lives for it as being only interested in that issue since they are so passionate about. Normal people tend not to ever be so devoted to their interests that they would give up their own lives, because they have multiple things going on in their lives.

Those who are this devoted are not usually normal because it is sort of weird to only have one thing that you care about in this world when it is somewhat controversial. These are people of more extreme beliefs since they are completely obsessed.
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The Man Who Loved Bears to Death

November 15, 2010 § Leave a comment

At first glance, Werner Herzog’s documentary, “Grizzly Man” could easily be confused with a Christopher Guest mockumentary. Herzog’s heavily accented narration, Treadwell’s eccentric behavior… Whoops,  I just read the “Slate” article and it looks like David Edelstein beat me to the Christopher Guest angle in Exit, Pursued by a Bear.  I find Treadwell to be an interesting character.  Despite his insanity Timmy was dedicated to the bears and was obviously willing to die for them. Yes he was completely insane and clearly had some issues but he loved the bears and gave his life trying to protect them. Only issue is he failed. I feel like Treadwell was a little bit self obsessed. He talked about a series of relationships suggesting that he needed constant companionship. The bears filled the void that alcohol, drugs and women couldn’t. I don’t doubt that Timmy had good intentions and even if it was inadvertently, I think he cared more about his own well being than the well being of the bears.  In reality Timmy needed the grizzlies more than they needed him.  Sadly the film didn’t paint the bears in a good light.  Getting mauled by the animals he was trying to protect did little for his crusade to help the grizzlies. Although Timothy brought widespread attention to helping the grizzlies he did so at the expense of his own life and the life of a poor grizzly bear.

One Person’s Take

November 14, 2010 § Leave a comment

From watching the film Grizzly Man alone, I never really understood the level of trust that ran between the bears and Timothy Treadwell.  That was until I read Ned Zeman’s article.  First let me start by saying that the movie just didn’t cover Treadwell’s life before he took to the Alaskan wildnerness.  Zeman writes that

“Tim Dexter died in Long Beac, California, amid a cloud of drugs, guns, and brawling.  He was arrested twice (for assault and for illegally firing a gun).  He lived  with cokeheads and dealers, slept with a loaded M16, and nearly overdosed on a “speedball” of cocaine and heroin.  One night, tripping on LSD, he nose-dived off a third-floor balcony and landed facedown in the mud (which rendered a perfect imprint of his face, including his sunglasses).”

Until I read this passage, I thought that Timothy Treadwell had always had a heart full of love for animals.  The way he handed himself in the film, telling grizzlies “I love you” over and over again made me think that he had always been an innocent, gentle individual for the entirety of his life.  Zeman later writes that

“Before Booble went off to gather food-the only time a mother will leave cubs-she nudged her little moppets toward Treadwell.  In fact, several mothers availed themselves of the new day-care service, parking the kids at Treadwell’s feet, heading off to run errands, then returning.”

Accounting for these two passages together, I feel that the blonds of love that exist between Treadwell and these grizzlies cannot be described with words alone.  The grizzly bears saved Treadwell’s life, and for that, he is eternally grateful.  They brought the very best out of him, and although many people criticize Treadwell and his daring work, he truly loved what he did for a living (and the bears loved him back), something that few can say today.

Requited Love

November 13, 2010 § Leave a comment

Watching Grizzly Man in class, I didn’t really get the impression that the bears wanted Timothy Treadwell around them. In numerous scenes, we see the bears creeping up on Tim and walking away angrily as he shoos them off. In fact, the movie somewhat makes it seem like the only creature who really appreciates Tim’s presence in the forest are the foxes he befriends and runs around playfully with. At least that’s what I thought until I read Ned Zeman’s article in Vanity Fair called The Man Who Loved Grizzlies. Hidden among Zeman’s explanations of Tim’s girlfriends and the disturbing scene of Tim’s death is the paragraph that  surprised me the most in this article. This paragraph helped me understand why Tim would keep isolating himself year after year and putting himself in danger in order to be closer to bears. It starts off talking about a bear named Booble who Tim was close with and describes their relationship:

“Before Booble went off to gather food—the only time a mother will leave cubs—she nudged her little moppets toward Treadwell. In fact, several mothers availed themselves of the new day-care service, parking the kids at Treadwell’s feet, heading off to run errands, then returning.”

I’d imagine that a mother bear would need a huge degree of trust in a human in order to leave her cubs with him which would not be something that is easily gained. So in that aspect, I commend Tim for his connection with bears since it is clear that this is not a feigned relationship but one that means a lot to both sides.

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