Tuesday, February 21

Grizzly freak

I've always heard that you should not speak ill of the dead. I would tend to agree if I didn't disagree. In my estimation, speaking ill of the dead is highly preferable to speaking ill of the living. Sure, the the dead can't defend themselves, but dead people probably don't give a shit about rumors or fickle opinions that compromise their reputations. Living people, however, do. And ass-kicking is always a threat from the living. As for the dead? Ghosts throw puny punches.

So I'll just say it: Timothy Treadwell was a nut. A sociopath with delusions of persecution and grandeur in nearly equal measures. The accounts of his past are at best unreliable, and what's offered up on the footage used in Grizzly Man just serves to make him more annoying and pitiable than I'm comfortable with admitting, since he died a tragic death while doing something he loved.

That said, his life's work -- all that footage of the Alaskan wilderness and its wild inhabitants -- is useful and beautiful and I'm grateful it exists. The foxes especially made me squeal with delight, which is unfortunate, as I try to maintain a cold heart. But I didn't look at the bears and see warmth or childishness, as Treadwell did. They were not kindred spirits, as the director pointed out. They were wild animals. They fostered no love for Treadwell.

There are a couple of truly magical moments in the film. One is when Treadwell is talking to the camera, near the stream, when the bear in the background begins sneaking up on Treadwell and gets pretty close before he even notices. Other magic moments are when Treadwell just shuts up and lets nature take center stage.

But those moments are few and far between in Grizzly Man, presumably because it is a film about Treadwell himself and not necessarily his footage or his work, though he claimed he was his work. But there were never moments where Treadwell wasn't performing for his camera. His intention was always to be the star. And what a horrible leading man he made. He was given to fits of whining and cursing and bitching. And the hubris!

But all his personality flaws make for some pretty compelling cinema. And there are dark whispers of schadenfreude throughout. By the time we see Treadwell demanding that God make it rain and rebuking God for neglecting the animals, it's clear that you don't have to root for him anymore. And, while I never would have wished death or harm or anything like that upon him, I certainly wasn't going to celebrate his life and work as a triumph of will and kindness and eco-friendly humanism and blah blah blah. Because he was mostly in it for crazy sociopathic reasons, and I have no idea if he actually helped the animals at all, or just disrupted their natural habitat.

And yet, there is some beauty to Treadwell. He was brave, to be sure. Brazen. But all the good adjectives seem to get drowned out by the one that sticks: Stupid. But I think "stupid" rises to the top because he died so tragically, which no one wanted to happen, so the whole thing just seems senseless.

Anyway, it's a movie worth checking out.

3 Comments:

Blogger phallicpen said...

I like it when he grabs his crotch at the camera, as if anyone could ever decide he's a total badass?

Did you like the baby bear paw he cried over...like a lil' bitch?

Tue Feb 21, 06:02:00 PM  
Blogger phallicpen said...

Why is there a question mark at the end of that first sentence?

God.

Tue Feb 21, 06:02:00 PM  
Blogger oskiesmom said...

Girl, you got that right. And the polar bears that have just arrived at the Memphis Zoo fill me with the same kind of dread as those grrrriiizzzzzzzzzlies

Tue Feb 21, 09:08:00 PM  

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