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Grizzly Man

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An Escape to Hell

In Werner Herzog’s Grizzly Man, Herzog follows the expeditions and life of Timothy Treadwell, a man bent on conserving the lives of grizzly bears in Alaska. Through his countless interviews and documentations, Herzog presents Treadwell as a mentally unstable Californian seeking a new identity from former alcohol abuse and depression. Although both opinions of the Grizzly Man, or Treadwell, are seen throughout several interviews, Herzog maintains a certain admiration for Treadwell. Questions to whether Treadwell’s methods were ethical are certainly raised, however, Herzog’s main emphasis still relied heavily upon Treadwell’s more personable aspect of escaping to a new world with a new identity.

As a young child, Treadwell cherished a teddy bear with all his heart. According to his parents, he had carried it around for years never letting it out of his grasp. As Treadwell grew older and attended college, alcohol abuse and depression consumed his life. In order to escape this black hole that constantly sucked his life away, he constructed an escape. Unfortunately, Herzog’s true intentions for documenting this escape became increasingly enveloped by the criticism and controversy over Treadwell’s methods. With the few exceptions of interviews from his ex-girlfriend Jewel as well as Treadwell’s parents, a majority of the interviews didn’t reflect on Treadwell’s search for innocence. To Treadwell, grizzly bears were deep down just a connection back to his teddy bear as a child, and represented the innocence he once had. As selfish as it may seem, Treadwell’s methods to save the grizzlies in Alaska came secondhand to his attempt to start a new life and rekindle the flame of innocence that had been lost for so long.

In several occurrences throughout The Grizzly Man, Treadwell mentions how he physically wants to transform into a bear. Herzog indicates in The Grizzly Man that Treadwell was a confused man who questioned his sexuality, his lack of...