Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Grisly man

If you haven't seen "Grizzly Man" yet, make sure to do just that soon. I hadn't realized that Werner Herzog wasn't just making a movie about the bizarre death of a bizarre man in Alaska - rather this is an excellent chronicle of self-invention and re-invention that makes its case with the footage TIm Treadwell himself created. Part confessional... no, ALL confessional, Herzog has gathered and cut enough of Treadwell's tapes to show that the self-styled Grizzly Man was a classic American work-in-progress, someone who had little direction in life (and not much of an Ego, either) and fell into drugs and booze after washing out as a mediocre actor.

The intimation by Herzog is that the guy "miraculously" transferred his addiction (vis a vis a borderline personality) from chemicals to "protecting" the bears of Alaska - much the same way Born-Again Christians claim to be able to kick addiction by finding Christ, with little explanation of where the chemical longing goes, or for that matter, any analysis of why they were hooked to begin with. Treadwell is an electrifying figure, if only for his constant reengineering of his personae on-screen, staging multiple "takes" of seemingly natural footage of him in the woods. Like Neal Gabler's Life - The Movie, Treadwell's sentimental idea of what life and nature are supercede actual factual reality, and that tragic miscalculation costs him his life... and his head, to the jaws of a massive Kodiak bear.

As an amateur ecologist, I have to say that for a guy who claimed to be saving bears, he sure did them a ton of harm (13 years worth) by constantly habituating them to humans, a grand error that removes their fear of Man.