Crossing the Wild Line: Thoughts on Werner Herzog's Grizzly Man
Prompted by a philosophically minded friend, I recently watched the film Grizzly Man, Werner Herzog's documentary of Timothy Treadwell. For those of you who do not know of Treadwell, he is the fellow who went to Alaska and lived amongst the grizzly bears up there for 13 summers, filming himself and thus capturing some astounding wildlife footage in the process. In 2003, he and his girlfriend were killed by a bear--surely an ironic, as well as sad, end for this man who professed unreserved love for the bears and other animals, and who was an advocate and educator.
Grizzly Man is a compelling film, consisting mostly of Treadwell's footage with narration from Herzog and interviews with various people associated with Treadwell's life--and death. Among the most important questions it raises, I think, is how humans relate to and interact with animals, and along with that how we perceive them and their habitat. Whether driven by love or by greed, humans have a long history of crossing the "boundary" between species, charging into areas without full thought (or respect) for the indigenous inhabitants. And in the case of Treadwell, we see one instance of this trend...with typically tragic consequences.