In 2005, acclaimed German film director, Werner Herzog, decided to create a film documentary chronicling the life of the individual known as “The Grizzly Man,” Timothy Treadwell, a man with a most unusual and reckless enthusiasm for bears living in the wild.
Treadwell was especially fond of tracking – and living with – Grizzly Bears. He spent thirteen summers of his life in Katmai National Park and Preserve in Alaska. Over that time, Treadwell got to know many of the Grizzlies, their habits, and their tendencies. He believed, incorrectly as it turned out, that the bears had grown to trust him.
Herzog’s impressive documentary film, which had its debut in 2006 at Robert Redford’s Sundance Film Festival, covers Treadwell’s thirteen year odyssey which ended in 2003 when he and his girlfriend, Amie Huguenard, were attacked, killed and devoured by one of the bears that they had closely followed. Grizzlyman.com
Eighty-five hours of film footage, much of it actually shot by Treadwell himself (covering his continuing interaction with the bears) including many, many interviews with people who knew him well or were actually involved in the annual summertime adventures, were condensed and edited by Herzog into a compelling true-life adventure that ended tragically.
Grizzlyman.com isn’t trying to reveal spoilers about the documentary. Their aren’t really any. Grizzly Man watchers who don’t know the story of Timothy Treadwell prior to starting the movie are soon made aware of his death. Photos and details of the gruesome bear attack are revealed early on. The bear that kills Treadwell and his girlfriend is identified and killed shortly after the attack. Fish and Game official find their body parts and clothes inside the bear’s stomach.
Produced jointly by TV’s The Discovery Channel and by Lion’s Gate Entertainment, the film was hailed by critics when it was shown at the Sundance Film Festival in 2006. Famed film and TV critic Roger Ebert awarded the film 4 stars, his highest rating. Other critics were just as kind. Amazon Prime members will by happy to learn that its available to stream for free on Prime Instant Video. For those who prefer to classics like this one can own Grizzly Man the movie on Blu-ray or DVD for their collection.
Interestingly, Treadwell received many warnings from Katmai National Park and Preserve management as well as fish and game professionals over the course of his thirteen year ongoing adventure. They told him repeatedly that his presence out in the wild with the animals would endanger him – or them – or both.
Treadwell, however, was convinced that he had passed the point of danger … that these deadly predators – Grizzly Bears – accepted his presence and that he and his girlfriend were in no danger. Clearly, his assessment was wrong and his death was gruesome and unfortunate … but avoidable.
There have been no further attempts by humans to “live with Grizzles” since Treadwell’s untimely death in 2003. Most Grizzlyman.com visitors hope it remains that way. The fact is that Grizzly Bears are wild, untamed animals. They are predators living and roaming freely in their natural habitat. They can be remarkably aggressive which combined with their incredibly strong makes them lethal and deadly. There is no reason why any human being should believe that he or she can safely live with these animals and not face mortal danger.
Timothy Treadwell and his girlfriend mistakenly believed that they were safe because they had never been attacked in previous stays in the wild. It was their fatal error. Grizzly Bears, like most animals, act instinctively. In the case of Treadwell, it resulted in a ferocious attack and the loss of his life. The Grizzly Bear (known as Bear 141) Timothy thought was “his friend” most likely saw Treadwell as a snack or just an annoyance on that fateful day.
The audio of Timothy Treadwell’s death is fairly easy to find online. Anyone thinking of co-habitation with Grizzlies will surely think twice about it after listening to it.