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September 27th, 2016

Max’s View

Grizzly Man (2005)
****
Five hundred years ago, Europeans began settling and civilizing North America. A full half millennium later, we are still sharing our continent with several wild animals that have the power to kill and eat us.

There are alligators near the Gulf of Mexico. There are sharks in our coastal waters. Wolves in the west and in Canada. And there are still more than 50,000 bears.

Why are there still so many deadly carnivorous bears? Is it because we have always been a land of conservationists? Is it because we can’t kill them all? No way. Just ask the Catamount. Our ancestors wiped out the entire species and didn’t apologize for it.

The reason why there are still gators, sharks, and bears is that they are not aggressive. They are all perfectly capable of murdering a person, but they instinctively run or swim away instead.

There may have been a time when a significant percentage of bears were aggressive and eager to attack humans. But those aggressive bears were all shot to death. And now the entire North American bear population is descended from the cowardly bears who somehow understood that those little pink hairless mammals with rifles are the toughest creatures of all.

The acclaimed 2005 documentary “Grizzly Man” gives us an intimate look into the soul of Timothy Treadwell: an activist who lived side by side with bears for 13 years. His goal was to create public awareness by showing how beautiful and gentle wild grizzly bears can be. He succeeded. (Mostly).

At the start of the movie, I thought that I was going to spend my review making fun of Treadwell. I think that choosing to live with bears over humans is literally insane. And I don’t have any sympathy for conservationists, especially people who are trying to protect animals that could easily maul me to death.

But Timothy Treadwell absolutely won me over. I was right to the extent that he was a little messed up in the head. He makes it clear through his many monologues that a series of heart wrenching break-ups essentially turned him against the human race.

However, Treadwell wasn’t a knee-jerk anti-capitalism environmentalist. Above all, he truly loved animals.

You can see that Treadwell felt at home in the company of bears. He named them, followed them for years, and considered them his closest friends.

He was a true animal lover. There was a family of adorable little foxes who got into the habit of hanging out around Treadwell’s tent. There is a heart-warming scene where a fox sits contentedly while Treadwell pets her and says “I love you” over and over again. It reminds me of the way I am when I’m spending time with my parents’ Shih-tzu.

It’s clear that Timothy Treadwell felt most alive and most at peace when in the company of wild animals. Good for him for living his dream. The fact that he ultimately died at the hands of a grizzly bear in 2003 doesn’t diminish his accomplishments.

“Grizzly Man” tells the unforgettable story of a man who died doing what he loved. And one deadly incident doesn’t take away the 13 straight years of harmony that came before it. Timothy Treadwell proved that wild bears are not aggressive toward humans. (Mostly).

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