Call this old news. Call me late to the party (I am). Just don't call me late for dinner.
Yes, over a year after its release I finally got around to viewing the now notorious Grizzly Man, Werner Herzog's documentary following the exploits of one Timothy Treadwell, aka the "Grizzly Man".
If you've already seen it, I beg your patience with this post. Please allow me the pleasure of indulging in this review. If you've seen it, you already know where this is heading and it isn't flattery for Mr. Treadwell or his cohorts. They are crazy. The whole lot of them. They are full-blown GONE! Over the rainbow. They have punched their tickets to La-La Land.
Timothy Treadwell spent the last 13 years of his life living in the remote wilds of the Alaskan Peninsula for reasons only God knows. Timothy, in his many monologue-filled recordings, would tell you he was there to save the bears. From who or what I cannot tell you. It's a federally protected wildlife reserve, a little fact like that wouldn't stop Timothy from saving them anyway. As I see it, he basically despised humanity, was a social outcast to begin with and this drove him into the Alaskan Wild where, for better or worse, he mingled with the bears and foxes and the glorious splendor of nature. I don't hold that against him. Its a free country and he can do what he liked as far as I'm concerned. He wasn't hurting anyone. In fact, he wasn't even in their way. He couldn't have been farther from it.
He also couldn't have been father from sanity. His exploits, and all their intimate details, would have been lost forever if it weren't for Werner Herzog deciding to take Timothy's over 100 hours of self-shot video footage and making it into a documentary of his life with the bears. Only God knows why he decided to do so, but luckily it turned out to be worthwhile. Wholly unintentional, Grizzly Man is a first rate riot!
I had heard so many stories of this film from people who had seen it that I fully expected it not to live up to my high expectations. Even so, it surpassed all my expectations! I couldn't believe what I was seeing! Herzog, for all his good intentions, only served to expose Treadwell for the nutcase he was.
Sequences such as one where Herzog is describing Treadwell's childhood saying quote, "He was blossoming into an all-American boy"... meant to be a play on an image of truck from a flower business where he worked as a teenager. Only it didn't help that the truck read "Nick's Pansy Farm", immediately cutting to Timothy making diving motions through the air. It was probably just unfortunate editing. But of course then there is the whole side exposition of his sexuality (how it was relevant to the film I don't know) that included a fairly lengthy segment of Tim talking about how being gay would be so much easier than being straight. Not only was his reasoning just a little insensitive to the gay community at large (apparently all gay relationships are casual and without emotional consequence to paraphrase Treadwell), the whole sequence was obviously one of Treadwell trying to convince himself that he wasn't. Truth be told, there was really no real reason, as far as bears were concerned, to even capture that on film. Awkward.
But that was Treadwell and this film as a whole. When Herzog interviews one of Treadwell's close friends and ex-girlfriend he asks her if she feels like his "widow". She responds by laughing at the very notion... only to then stop suddenly and earnestly reply, "Yeah, I think so." What?!! Then there is the coroner who performed the autopsy of Treadwell's bear digested remains. Cause of death - eaten by bear. However, the ridiculous notion of performing an autopsy on a person eaten by a bear takes a back seat to how truly weird the coroner is, all of his descriptions overly dramatic and assisted with full-on gesturing.
Then there was the "actor" friend from California who talked about Timothy and his Australian accent... which I'm pretty sure he didn't have (never in the film). Then when admitting that Timothy was mostly a fake in such regards, this "friend" casually shook it off as if the fact that everything about the guy he knew was more or less under suspicion was trivial. Okay, buddy.
And of course we get back to Treadwell himself who diatribes against the government (on pace to out-"f**k" The Big Lebowski), punches bears in the face to show his "dominance", revels in touching fresh bear dung (because it was inside the bear!!!) and literally scolds flies for feeding on rotting fox corpses. For a guy who loves nature, he sure didn't seem to understand natural law... or the role of predators... or life and death for that matter. In the end, for all its seriousness, Grizzly Man only comes across as bizarre, awkward and unintentionally hilarious as we see scenes and meet people that, not knowing better, we may have though was nothing more than a lampoon of nature documentaries to get some laughs. It is that ridiculous!
Watching this film, I literally could not believe what I was seeing most of the time. If you want to see genuine craziness, watch Grizzly Man. If you've already seen it, you know exactly what I mean. If you haven't, gather up some friends and take an evening to watch it. It won't disappoint. Honestly, where else will you ever hear serious dialogue the likes of, "Here we see Mickey versus Sgt. Brown for the right to court Jupiter, Queen of the Bears!" All this and more in Grizzly Man. 8/10