The Grizzly Nut

Tim Treadwell with Chocolate the bear and Ghost the foxLast week I finally got to watch this strange movie “Grizzly Man” about Tim Treadwell, the ultimate bear nut. Treadwell spent 13 summers in Katmai National Park in Alaska literally among huge grizzly bears. In October 2003 Treadwell and his girlfriend Amie were killed and eaten in their camp in the park by one of the grizzly bears.

In the last five summers with the bears he took cameras along and filmed the bears, foxes and himself in the rough, beautiful Alaskan wilderness. The bears were so habituated to him that he got truly amazing footage standing just feet away from the grizzly bears. Werner Herzog, the famous German movie director, got access to the more than one hundred hours of Treadwell’s footage. He decided to use this material to create a documentary, as “in this material lay dormant a story of astonishing beauty and depth.” Herzog says. He added interviews with people who knew Treadwell, or who were knowledgeable about the bears in Alaska and wove all this into a fascinating tale “of human ecstasies and darkest inner turmoil.”

It is easy to dismiss Treadwell as a nutcase. He was a recovering addict who went native among the bears and increasingly cast the world of the humans as an adversary. He renounced the complexities of the human life for the simplicity and perceived perfection and harmony of the wilderness. Although Treadwell’s naive view of nature and the wilderness he was immersing himself in stands in stark contrast to Herzog’s view of a chaotic and merciless universe, Herzog does not judge Treadwell.can I eat it? “What haunts me is that in all the faces of all the bears that Treadwell ever filmed I discover no kinship, no understanding, no mercy. I see only the overwhelming indifference of nature. To me, there is no such thing as a secret world of the bears, and this blank stare speaks only of a half-bored interest in food. But for Timothy Treadwell, this bear was a friend, a saviour.”

This is the tension that carries this film. It’s a compelling story of the desperate search of a human for a connection to life, nature through wilderness, through bears. Treadwell’s search for this connection is deeply human. To varying degrees, we all have this desire for this connection, I know I do. Did Treadwell take this desire and turn it into a quest that gave his life meaning? Or maybe it was just another escape from reality, just another self-destructive addiction, that eventualy killed him in an overdose, of sorts?

5 Responses to “The Grizzly Nut”

  1. Luke Flegg Says:

    Yeah a lot of people feel like you do that.

    (Just been reading

    I think you’re all missing such an important thing; Tim Tredwell just WAS a fucking bear. He was psychologically a bear, he was complex and contradictory, but he was also quite immature in a sense, but he was there cause he didn’t fit in with humans, as far as I can see. I think he was defiantely not a normal person, but it pisses me right off when people have a go at him saying things like it was his fault Amie was killed (I think if she didn’t realise camping in Grizzly Maze was life threatening she was taken by Darwin’s natural selection to be honest) and I don’t think she WANTED the camera pointed at her, she was there for him, and wanted to account it with him. If they’d disagreed about how small her role as a character in the film was, she wouldn’t have helped.

    He risked his life intentionally, and the risk killed him. He was a curious man, but had enough level headedness not to hurt any person or animal. There is nothing you can criticise in that, it’s all personal choice.

  2. matt goodman Says:

    i have just seen grizzly man on more 4 in the uk i for 1 feel sad as to the end of a life of both tim Amie and the bear (s) she went there knowing what was what do you really think tim would have taken her out there without telling her first what could happen!!
    if i said to you come stay with me where there are big mother fucking bears you would proberly look at me and say up yours sunshine.
    tim was AND is a true grate person how many people have you seen with wild foxes????? oh yeah and bears!!

    all the best and thank you to tims friends and family who helped by giving the tapes up to become a film


    tim treadwell and Amie

    mg k9

  3. Duurty Deepy Says:

    I watched the film on More4 (UK) last night. It repeated at various times, which I am grateful for because I thought he was just another nutter at first. Then I realised he is just like any of us. A person with feelings that people hurt and opinions that no one is listening to. He is quite immature in ways. He has a Hulk Hogan WWF look to him. His on camera behaviour was a bit Hogan. How does a immature person behave when no one is understanding what they are saying? Like Tim in the last few years of his life?
    I dont feel Tims films or actions where madness anymore. He has succesfully gotten his message aired an only sacrificed two lives. Wars sacrifice many more.


    I believe his message was to all of us.
    We must change our ways and save our children from the Wilderness.

  4. JL Trull Says:

    Initially I thought the man deranged, then I began to understand more about his mission and his attitudes. The only area I would fault Tim for was not taking what he had learned about the human race and applied it to the animal kingdom, that is that there are about one percent of the human population that can cut your throat while eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and never miss a bite while doing it. Wild animals are no different. While most of the bears Timothy came in contact with seemed to accept him as nonthreatening, there was that one that he said himself was typically the kind that would attack. Timothy would have been saddened to know that his attacker was killed, that’s just the way he seemed to be to me.

    JL Trull
    Andrews NC

  5. Man Says:

    I’m not agree with people who says that treadwell did a great job, he wanted to protect this bears but the only thing he did is to intervene in the life of this bears, and this is wrong.
    You can protect animals without being in the middle of their life.