About a Bear

Werner Herzog roars at the wild condition in 'Grizzly Man'

Last days: Timothy Treadwell in 'Grizzly Man'
Lions Gate
Last days: Timothy Treadwell in 'Grizzly Man'

Herzog, ridiculously, commands Treadwell's former lover never to listen to a tape of Treadwell and Huguenard's last moments: I love how resolutely the director exposes his own biases. But maintaining oppositions of masculine/feminine, wild/domestic, and authentic/compromised is not going to solve this puzzle. Huguenard fought that grizzly with a fry pan. Treadwell's arrogant vulnerability led to the death of his lover and one of his beloved bears. The "wild" spaces he wandered are managed preserves. The line Treadwell crossed was in living a lie--that nature has long been separated from humanity, and that redemption (particularly for men, in their "essential" physicality) can be achieved by remerging with the wild. Treadwell did not take seriously the ways in which we are inextricably connected (through the food chain, for example): He did not see (his) nature for believing in it. Herzog presents that lingering lie as a curse and a thing of beauty, acknowledging its attractions even as he elegantly damns it to hell.

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