For some reason, I love documentaries. I would probably watch a documentary on the mating habits of the Tsetse fly. I have always loved to read, so maybe that just spilled over in to my television watching. I know my husband has ceased to be amazed about anything I might be watching when he walks into the living room.
One trend I have loved recently is that of television stations like A&E and Discovery showing great documentaries. When I heard a few months back that the Discovery channel would be showing Grizzly Man, I was very excited. This film looks at the incredible life of Timothy Treadwell. Timothy would periodically travel to Alaska to live amongst the grizzly bears. Probably not the smartest move on his part, but he was able to do this for 13 summers before the unthinkable happened. Actually, I would think it would have been the thinkable from day one. At the end of the thirteenth summer, Treadwell and his companion, Amie Huguenard were killed by one of the grizzlies he had tried to befriend. How do we know this? Well, grizzly enough (pardon the pun), the audio of the attack was caught on video tape. Now, part of me thinks Treadwell was somewhat cool, and of course, part of me thinks he was crazy. I mean, these are grizzly bears after all. But, he must have been doing something half way right to be able to live among them for so many seasons. He claimed he saved the bears, but I am not sure it was not the other way around – that the bears saved him. Before becoming the self-proclaimed “eco-warrior,” Treadwell had been doing drugs and seemed to have no purpose in life. The grizzlies gave him a purpose. And yeah, it seems goofy to see him say “I love you” to the bears, but the video footage he shot and some of the still photography he got of the grizzlies is breathtaking. Even seen it on television, I was just mesmerized.
What I really liked about the documentary was the way director Werner Herzog presented it. He either had no opinion of Treadwell or just chose not to take sides in the film. He shows footage Timothy filmed of himself that shows both a fun loving and sensitive side then turns right around and shows Timothy acting strange and goofy. He interviews people on both sides – the ones who though Treadwell did more harm than damage and those in his bear organziation, Grizzly People. Herzog could have gone for the gut – playing the audio from the attack. Instead, we see him on camera, listening to it, saying how horrible it is and telling a former girlfriend to destroy the tape without every listening to it. That to me was worse than actually hearing it.
Overall, this documentary is a great one and I cannot believe it was snubbed by the The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, not even receiving a nomination for Best Documentary. I haven’t seen the March of the Penguins yet, but I cannot image it being any more fascinating than this film. If you have not seen Grizzly Man, you can purchase it at Amazon.com.