Grizzly Man (2005), the story of Tim Treadwell (nee Tim Dexter - shown), a self-proclaimed protector of grizzly bears who spent thirteen summers camping among them in Alaska. In October 2003 he and his girlfriend were mauled and eaten by one of them. Herzog's film uses Treadwell's video footage as well as interviews with friends and associates. As is generally the case with Herzog, he interjects his own sometimes hilarious, sometimes weird and sometimes profoundly apt opinions and observations. It's what makes his docs so much fun!
I should mention that I have no special love for animals; they don't interest me. I have never enjoyed going to zoos, and I have always found tales like Black Beauty and Gentle Ben to be boring. At Civil War reenactments I dislike horses intensely. Big dogs make me nervous, and who can trust a cat? So I consider the idea of living among deadly wild animals, out of love, to be utterly daft. Treadwell gets little respect from me.
The film Herzog used from Treadwell's collection reveals the man to have been somewhat imbalanced (he had a history of alcoholism and drug use), or at the very least, overwrought and juvenile. He cries at the sight of a dead bumblebee (who later appears to have been merely sleeping or dormant), sleeps with a teddy bear doll and rages, swears and extends his middle finger over perceived affronts by the National Park Service. He has an oddly high-pitched voice and intonation reminiscent of a fussy old lady; at times I was reminded of Saturday Night Live's "Church Lady."
Treadwell is not at all a sympathetic character in this - and neither are his "eco-warrior" friends. A funny moment: One of them ruefully reads some hate mail from a fellow who suggests releasing grizzly bears onto the streets of Berkeley (California). I'm glad I didn't see this when it premiered at Sundance because I laughed long and hard; I would have been the only one in the house to do so, engendering resentment from Utah neo-hippie-eco-activists.
One weird, characteristically Herzogian moment: A camera was recording when Treadwell and his girlfriend got mauled by the bear. The lens cap was on, so there is no video, but there was about six minutes of audio. Screams are heard, etc. The film doesn't play this - it would be too ghoulish, even for Herzog - but instead shows the director listening to it as it is played back on a camera. (The tape is owned by another girlfriend of Treadwell, who has never listened to it.) The director is emotionally affected by it, but we do not see his face. His emotions are instead reflected on the face of the girlfriend - an amazing sequence. Then Herzog says, "You should not keep this tape. You should destroy it. It will become the white
elephant in the house."
(What is it about colored elephants? A few weeks ago a guy at work in a meeting mentioned "the pink elephant in the room." A pink elephant is one you reputedly see when heavily drunk. A "white elephant" is an object you don't want that you bring to a holiday social exchange to get rid of. The phrase to describe an uncomfortable, ignored fact or object is simply "the elephant in the room." No colors!)
Also in this film is the world's most strangely theatrical coroner; his interview segments lend a touch of weirdness to an already hyperbolically odd documentary. In my mind's eye I can still see him describing the injuries found on Treadwell's (severed) head, and the segment where he presents the girlfriend with the still functioning watch found on Treadwell's severed wrist. Herzog must have listened to this guy and thought, "I have got to get him on tape."
I claimed Treadwell was a "self-proclaimed" protector of grizzly bears. There is one filmed sequence where Treadwell, hidden in brush, films a party of sportsmen trying to scare off a bear by yelling and throwing rocks; one hits the bear with a thump. What does Treadwell do about this? He frets, cries and stays hidden. Some protector. (Note: There was no history of bear poaching in the areas Treadwell camped in.)
Anyway, excellent film. I will admit that I do not like so-called eco-warriors, and nothing in this film - from Treadwell's activities to the interviews with his granola girlfriends - causes me to change my opinion in the least. In fact it rather bolsters my distaste.
I posted some Amelia Earhart photos to Burbankia. In 1936 or 1937 she was in town to visit Lockheed to oversee the construction of her custom Model 10E Electra - the one she crashed in.
Hey, I had my blood pressure checked yesterday: 107/63. It has never been measured that low. Clearly, it's time to have my doctor reassess the dosage level of my blood pressure meds based on my now lower weight! When I kneel down to get a book from a low shelf and then stand back up I get light-headed and dizzy - it's called postural or orthostatic hypotension. It's fun... but I should probably listen to what my body is telling me before I possibly fall on people and hurt them. An imbalanced guy my size is a threat to society, not to mention breakable objects in a room.
This morning I stepped on the bathroom scale - good news! I lost 3.6 pounds since I left on vacation. Since I doubt that I lost that much in the past week, it means I must have still lost weight while on the trip despite restaurant food above my norm. It must have been all the extra walking. I have now lost 33.8 pounds in eighteen weeks, for an average of nearly 1.9 pounds per week. I owe myself that banana split and I'm gonna have it.
Have a great weekend!
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