Prior to a full on Into the Wild film/book review…

Though I am thinking/writing/observing on the subject of Christopher McCandless, the main (but not only) character of Jon Krakauer’s superbly written “Into the Wild,” I am just going to post my response to a film review by Kyle Smith of the New York Post. It is largely in reference to a brief paragraph on Timothy Treadwell, a man who spent thirteen summers alone with brown/grizzly bears on the Alaskan coast before he was attacked and eaten by a bear. The reason the bear attacked is still unknown. I recently finished two books on Treadwell, so I was compelled to share.

First, Kyle Smith’s comments about Treadwell:
Both the cruel beauty of the film[Into the Wild] and this quality of its main character[McCandless] call to mind Werner Herzog’s similar, and similarly brilliant, documentary “Grizzly Man,” about Timothy Treadwell, a nature lover who lived among the bears in Alaska and treated them as big fluffy pets, until they ate him. Treadwell claimed, not very convincingly, to have a girlfriend (a woman he brought along who also died but whom he almost entirely ignored in his many video diaries). He too seemed uninterested in sex, or any other kind of human interaction.

My comment:

I appreciate the mccandless observations, but i’ve just finished reading “The Grizzly Maze” and “Among Grizzlies,” two books on Timothy Treadwell, and wanted to append some info short-changed in Herzog’s documentary.

His relationship with bears was much more complicated than “big fluffy pets” despite how some of Herzog’s video footage plays side of Treadwell up. Treadwell certainly behaved in his own eccentric way to pass the time, but he also had a unique talent to discern bear behavior and intentions, often forced into split-second decisions (whether respectful retreats, holding ground or bluffing an attack) when a bear got to close to him or began to charge. His knack held up for thirteen summers, but all along it was a risky business to convince himself that he too was bear, as he often remarked on video and wrote in his memoir “Among Grizzlies.” More than anything else, McCandless and Treadwell shared an independent spirit and over confidence grown from previous successes. However, sometimes it is also terrible luck–running into a desperate, potentially mentally-ill bear or (spoiler alert!) eating seeds previously unknown to be poisonous.

Treadwell actually had several girlfriends over the years and never seemed to have an aversion to sex, self-described and collaborated in interviews with friends.

From what I gather, he had selective problems with humans depending on whether they were sympathetic to his mission and trips to Alaska every summer or not. His best friend in Alaska, Joel Bennett the filmmaker, was amazed that a person who enjoyed attention and social interaction would go into the bush for months at a time thirteen years in a row like Treadwell.

Published in: on November 27, 2007 at 10:55 pm  Leave a Comment  
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