Tuesday, February 07, 2006

"Grizzly Man" Review

Sarah and I watched the documentary "Grizzly Man" last night. I thought is was a masterfully made film by Warner Herzog. He really took what could have been a hack-assed TV movie of the week and made an incredible meditation on the boundaries of human nature and, well, nature nature. Anyway, this is my Netflix review:

(Note: the addendum speaks to several Netflix customer reviewers who openly complained about not getting to see any particularly graphic footage.)

“Grizzly Man” is an extraordinary exploration of one particular dark avenue taken by one particularly alienated, mentally unbalanced individual. Tim Treadwell’s delusional and daffy behavior among the wild bears of Alaska could, of course, only reach one conclusion. Herzog lets us quickly recognize that Tim is one strange dude who’s destined to die out there in bear country. There isn’t much by way of revelation as the film plays out. We’re left to soak up Tim’s mental and emotional state as it’s bounced off the reality around him--a reality that he, for whatever reason, cannot see to save his life. The two worlds, the human one Tim so wishes to detach from and the unflinching reality of Nature, unavoidably come together like a tectonic collision as Tim’s life reaches its inevitable, gruesome conclusion. It would be nice to imagine that in his final moments Tim understood the chasm between the two worlds could never be crossed regardless the size of his (horribly, horribly misplaced) love for the animal world. It’d be nice, but after the portrait Herzog paints, I doubt it, because with Tim’s divorce from human society came a divorce from reality. In fact, the point of the film may well be the mutual inclusion of the two (one cannot abandon the trappings of human society without abandoning its benefits, both corporeal and psychological). In any event the film remains a fascinating study of human compassion, folly and madness played out against a backdrop of breathtaking beauty.

*For those disappointed no visual or aural human carnage was visited upon Tim during the film, remember, even if you despised the guy he was a real person, this wasn’t a slick Hollywood production. Desiring to witness the violet death of someone you casually dislike is probably indicative of a mental disorder similar to Tim’s. Perhaps you’d do best to learn from him and seek help before it’s too late. Or maybe just go public and petition Netflix to start stocking the “Faces of Death” series.

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