Within the last wild lands of North America dwells an animal that inspires respect and fear around the world. It is the grizzly bear, a living legend of the wilderness. Grizzlies can sprint thirty five plus miles an hour, smell carrion at nine or more miles, and drag a thousand-pund animal up steep mountains. The grizzly bear is one of a very few animals remaining on earth that can kill a human in physical combat. It can decapitate with a single swipe, or grotesquely disfigure a person in rapid order. Within the last wilderness areas where they dwell, they are the undisputed king of all beasts. I know this all very well. My name is Timothy Treadwell, and I live with the wild grizzly.
So begins Treadwell’s Among Grizzlies, released in 1997 after eight years of living with bears in western Alaska. Six years later, on October 5, 2003, Treadwell was killed in Katmai National Park‘s Kaflia Bay — called “The Maze” because of the network of trails made by one of the densest populations of grizzlies in the world. An AP report from October 8th was the first nationwide news of Treadwell’s death, but it doesn’t benefit from the wealth of photos, video, and audio records he left behind. Lynn Rogers’ personal telling of the story includes details from the audio recording made during the bear attack in which he and his friend, Amie Huguenard perished.
Filmmaker Werner Herzog’s, Grizzly Man, a documentary of Treadwell’s work with the grizzlies, including rich use of Treadwell’s own video, opens in LA and NYC on August 12. Herzog appeared in interviews on NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday and Fresh Air.
A previous story about Alaskan bear attacks remains among the most popular here. Though Herzog’s movie is sure to represent the rich complexity of the characters, I’m also sure it will touch the morbid interests of a few.
Update: vicarious Grizzly Man movie review.