"That you may ruminate"

…On Grizzley-Man and Grizzly Man.

Posted by Steve on August 5, 2008

Once upon a time, I was a high school student (along with Ames of Submitted to a Candid World). And during my days as a high school student, I took many classes, one of which was 10th grade physics (ditto Ames). During these days as a high school student, I was “that kid”. You know, the one who finishes the hour-long test in about 10 or 15 minutes, gets an A, and talks about how he hadn’t studied any? Yeah. Ultimately that caught up to me, and I finally failed a class while I was in grad school, but that’s what happens when you never go to class, do homework, or even bother showing up for the final exam. Where was I? Oh, yes. In this 10th Grade Physics class, I finished a test after about 15 minutes. For reasons known only to him, the teacher, a tall thin man who wore long thin ties, would not let me turn the test in yet. So, I doodled on it. In the process, I created a super-hero: Grizzley-Man. Half grizzley-bear, half human, he looks more like a sasquatch-Gumby with jagged limbs and a gaping saw-toothed mouth (because I draw for shit) than an actual hybrid of Ursus arctos horribilis and Homo sapiens sapiens really would. According to the legend I made up for him, he was created in a secret Soviet lab by splicing human and grizzly bear DNA and accordingly has consciousness, intelligence, opposable thumbs, giant claws and teeth, a need to hibernate, a love for salmon, 59 chromosomes, and massive size and strength. My physics teacher hated him. I have long toyed with the idea of writing a comic book or novel about him and his adventures (he dates Russian supermodels).

Need I mention I find bears fascinating? They’re so cute looking while at the same time looking like the godless killing machines they are.

All this taken together, it was perhaps inevitable that I would watch Grizzly Man. That I did tonight. It’s an interesting film. Obviously, the nature footage is gorgeous. The people in the film, well, some struck me as a bit off-kilter, though perhaps it’s job-related that a coroner describes deaths in an emotional state that defies easy description. Perhaps…

As for the man himself, Timothy Treadwell, well… I don’t know what was in the 99 hours of footage he’d taped that Warner Herzog cut, and I don’t know what went on during the thousands of other hours (13 summers * 3 months a summer * 30 days a month* that wretched song from Rent…) he spent with bears in Alaska. But in the footage Herzog cut together after Treadwell was eaten, something stuck out in my mind: for all that he spoke of himself as being wild and the bears being wild, he acted as though the nature around him had been tamed and domesticated. Partially true, actually, in the case of some foxes. But… he speaks of the bears as wild. He isn’t ever shown treating the bears as wild.

Regardless, a very interesting movie.

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