Monday, July 24, 2006

Beary Weird

Last night the hubby and I watched a three-hour documentary called “Grizzly Man” on the Discovery Channel. It’s the story of Timothy Treadwell who lived with grizzly bears for thirteen summers until one of them killed him. He stayed longer than normal the last time he was there and food was getting scarce for the bears due to the approaching winter. Armed with only a frying pan, Timothy and his girlfriend Amie, were no match for a 1,000 pound plus grizzly bear looking for lunch.

I like to watch animal shows. Grizzly Man has little to do with bears, other than they appear in almost every piece of footage. The movie is really a documentary of a wannabe actor/rock star whose life was spiraling out of control due to alcoholism and obvious mental illness. Supposedly, after he lost the bartender role on “Cheers” to Woody Harrelson his drinking became a life and death situation and despite treatment and programs he was unable to control it. (I’m no Hollywood talent agent, but something makes me doubt that he actually was a contender for the role.) By some self-proclaimed miracle, though, he discovered that he could stop drinking in order to protect these grizzly bears from poachers by hanging out in tents and dressing in camouflage. Hey, whatever works, I guess.

Throughout the movie, Timothy explains his alcoholism, his dislike for people, society the government, the park forest…you name it. He screams, swears and then screams some more. He must repeat a hundred times that he knows he could die and is willing to die there protecting his friend-bears. He shares his fantasies about wishing to be gay. He talks at the bears (they don’t talk back, though), yelling things like “I Love You” and commenting in awe of their “great friendship”. For the most part, his bear-friends completely ignore him unless he is trying to poke them in the nose. I can understand why. They are the only sane characters in the entire story.

The weirdest part of the movie is when Timothy cries over the death of a bumblebee and then literally one minute later is euphoric when he finds some fresh poop from one of his beloved friend-bears named Wendy. He touches the poop, marvels at it and goes into a big explanation about how incredible it was that the poop was just inside her and now it’s on the ground. It shows how out of touch with reality he is. Timothy Treadwell was bizarre and paranoid and Grizzly Man is definitely one of the oddest films I have ever seen.

It’s narrated in an overly dramatic fashion by the director who has an accent similar to Arnold Schwarzenegger. It also features interviews with Treadwell’s friends (who all seem a Cheers audition away from living with the bears themselves) and some frighteningly kooky coroner whose eyes bulge out of his head while he graphically describes the vicious attack that killed Treadwell and his girlfriend. He gets more and more excited and frightening as he replays the whole incident in his mind. The friends, the coroner and the narration add a funny creepiness to the movie and it probably wouldn’t be watch-able without all of that.

This movie is like a bad car accident; you just can’t help but stare at. Timothy’s friends try to convince the viewer that it’s all about his love of his friend-bears. It’s not. It’s about a guy who is unable to live in society, so he retreats every summer to live with these bears and videotape himself a manifesto. One of Timothy’s human friend’s surmises that the killer bear came searching for Timothy with murder on his mind. If that’s true, it’s only because the bears wanted their peace and quiet back after thirteen years of this guy screaming, singing and playing with their poop.

I have to recommend this movie. It’s positively creepy, insane, funny and sad all at the same time. You’re emotions won’t probably change as fast as Timothy’s, but it’s worth checking out.

No comments: