Director: Werner Herzog
Released in theaters: October 27, 2005
No, I have lots more to say. First of all, if you have never seen this documentary which is directed and narrated by Werner Hergoz (who played the bad guy in last winter's Tom Cruise movie, Jack Reacher, just a bit of random trivia for you there), I highly recommend it. After watching it, you will have the same reaction to Timothy Treadwell as I did: that guy is nucking futs! He was an environmentalist who spent thirteen years living with the bears and other wild animals in Alaska during the summer. I guess he became mildly known for what he did, being interviewed a few times, although I had never heard of him until I saw the movie back when it was released on DVD after a friend/co-worker told me about it and after she explained it to me, I knew I had to check it out.
The most interesting thing about Timothy Treadwell, aside from his whole ordeal with the bears, was that he was an actor (or attempted acting) before he got into the whole activism scene. Herzog interviews one of his acting friends (an unknown person) and he said that Treadwell claimed that he came this close to playing Woody on Cheers, but lost out to Woody Harrelson. According to Treadwell, he was their second choice. Gimme a freaking break. I really doubt that is true. I can believe he auditioned for the part, but I doubt he was anywhere close to getting the role. We already know he has a record of lying because he used to tell people he was an orphan from Australia. After he didn't get the role on Cheers that he was supposedly so close to, he became an alcoholic and nearly overdosed on heroin. He had always loved animals since he was little and when he traveled to Alaska for the first time to see bears, they became his passion and he vowed to protect and advocate for them.
While I admire his passion, I do think he went about it the wrong way (obviously). I really don't understand how one person can protect a bunch of bears in a so-many mile radius. What are you going to do? Go up to a poacher and tell him to put down his gun? I think killing bears for fun and for the prize is disgusting, but I think killing a bear for self-defense is absolutely justified. Treadwell said he would never kill a bear for that reason even and never carried a gun with him...which turned out to be his own detriment.
It wasn't just that it was impossible for him to protect all the bears, but he went about it doing it the wrong way and would disregard the national park's rules. He would get very close to the bears and would even swim with them and pet them, treating them like they were dogs. You are suppose to move your camp every seven days, but he never did that.
Like I said he spent thirteen years spending the summer camping in Alaska living among the bears. He would even give them names. Mr. Chocolate was one of his favorites. (And Mr. Chocolate is an innocent bear - he has never eaten any humans as far as I know). During the last few summers, Treadwell brought a videocamera and documented his travels to Alaska. By the time of his death he had hours of footage which Herzog used much of for the documentary as well as interviews with family members and close friends of Treadwell.
He brought his girlfriend the last few summers and I don't know which was more surprising: that he had a girlfriend in the first place (not saying he was a homosexual, but he gave out more asexual vibes. He seemed to have to convince himself that he liked women quite a bit too, telling himself over and over "I love women!") or that he was dating this particular woman who was afraid of bears. Um, then why would you date somebody whose whole life revolves around bears? I'm sure she was only afraid of bears when she was camping out in the open in their own turf and nothing to protect her from them if they decided to attack, which is understandable. But even then, why did she ever agree to go camping with Treadwell in the first place? I'm sorry, but if my boyfriend was into bears and wanted me to go camping with him where bears roam freely, I would be like "F*ck no!"
It is believed that an older bear who was having trouble finding food killed them. This happened in October 2003, the 13th (and final) year (lucky #13!) Treadwell had been camping every summer in Alaska with the bears. It happened towards the end of their stay and when the guy who was suppose to pick them up, flew his helicopter to where Treadwell and his girlfriend were camping, he noticed something was wrong immediately because he kept calling for them but never heard an answer, then he saw a bear gnawing on human remains (eww) and got the hell out of there.
Being mauled, killed, and eaten by a bear is probably one of the worst ways one can die, if not THE worst way, but the way Herzog approaches his death, he's so overdramatic about the whole thing, that it's almost comical in a way. We see footage of Treadwell talking about setting up camp and he says he's in a forbidden place for humans to camp (well, duh, obviously there's a reason it's forbidden...it's not safe!) and he brags about how he's hidden in the brush from anyone. And on the bottom of the screen it says, "HOURS BEFORE HIS DEATH". The coroner who examined the two mauled bodies is this weird, creepy guy who never blinks (that's what makes him weird and creepy) and reminded me of Fred Armisen and I kept thinking I was watching him an an SNL skit because he was being so melo-dramatic, talking about examining the mangled body pieces. I think because the whole thing is gruesome, he had to be super somber and grave about it - to the point that it was bordering on parody. But the one that took the cake for me was when Herzog was interviewing an ex-girlfriend of Treadwell (again, I was surprised) and she somehow wound up with the audio recording of Treadwell and his girlfriend's death. Oh, did I mention the camera was running when they were killed? The lens was on so there is no footage. Why anyone would want a recording of their ex-boyfriend (or anyone for that matter) being killed by a bear is beyond me, but somehow she ended up with. Herzog, while sitting with her, listens to the tape with headphones and is very somber (understandingly) thoroughout the whole thing and after he takes off his headphones he asks her, "Have you listened to this" and she says "No," and he says, very, very seriously, "You must never, ever listen to this" and she says, "I won't, Werner, I promise!" He tells her to destroy it and she says she will. I still don't know why she would have that in the first place.
This is a fascinating documentary (as well as a great PSA for what NOT to do when camping around bears) and I highly recommend it.