On the Big Board
||You can't look away.
It’s interesting how mental illness can manifest itself, and what it can lead a disturbed individual to do. One often hears, for instance, of people committing suicide by forcing the police to shoot them, or by ramming a car at a high rate of speed into a solid object. There was even a case recently of a man who planned to kill himself by parking his car on the train tracks, although after changing his mind and supposedly not being able to move his SUV, he ended up taking the lives of others rather than his own.
Grizzly Man is a documentary that focuses on a disturbed young man who apparently decides on death by grizzly. Assembled by famed German director Werner Herzog from footage shot by the dead man himself, the film tells the story of Timothy Treadwell, a man who became an expert on grizzly bears after spending 12 years studying and living amongst them. Much of the footage shows Treadwell interacting with the bears he has come to know over his time in their company, and while it appears to outsiders that Treadwell is way too close and friendly with these giant carnivores that are known to regard humans as prey, the viewers’ fears are initially assuaged by the knowledge that the man they are watching is an expert on the subject. But as the film continues, and Treadwell brings his obviously frightened girlfriend, into the proceedings, the tone of the film seems to shift, and the audience recognizes the signs of an impending tragedy, one that is very nearly played out in front of the cameras.
Grizzly Man premiered at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival, where it was not only well-received, but was nominated for a festival award. The film should prove a chilling addition to the art-house circuit. (Stephanie Star Smith/BOP)