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Grizzly Man, Werner Herzog’s documentary of Timothy Treadwell and his girlfriend Amie Huguenard teach people more about humans than animal nature because humans necessarily can’t comprehend how animals live in nature. When human’s film about animals, they don’t have the insight into animals’ behaviour and emotions, whereas the film only allows the viewers to see from a human perspective. Treadwell films the footage of his interactions and perspective with the grizzly bears in the Alaskan wilderness. However, the film interprets a human’s perspective on how the animals live in their natural habitat. The viewers don’t see the perspective of animal nature itself. Treadwell was an animal lover, but his inability to foresee the danger he was putting himself in was inevitable. He states, “If I show weakness, I’m dead. They will take me out, they will decapitate me, they will chop me up into bits and pieces I’m dead” and yet he continued his journey with the grizzly bears. Herzog shows Treadwell’s behaviour with the bears where he allows himself to mutually mutate himself so that the bears would not recognise any danger claiming that he had “gained the trust”. His perspective and behaviour towards the bears were like humans in bear costumes by approaching them, which shows viewers how humans may interact with animals. This is evident that he did further damage than good, he made humans further endangered by these bears and seen as a threat. His actions also put the bears at real risk of harm and death. Treadwell was determined to protect the grizzly bears from poachers, unaware the bears were already safe in the national park.
Treadwell was lucky to have survived for as long as he could without being attacked by the bears. He not only put his life at risk, but also of his girlfriend when he says, “My life is on the precipice of death”(Herzog), this ensures that anthropomorphism towards animals is doubtful because humans are uneducated in the dept of animals lives in the wild. The film depicts humans can’t infer what animals are thinking or feeling at that moment and mistakenly showing a sense of weakness towards the animals can result in humans becoming food for the bears. Treadwell says, “I don’t understand”(Herzog), which shows he does not see nature and the circle of the animal’s life the same way you would of a human, instead he overlooks his death caused by the bears. He thought he built a bond with the bears and was able to understand their ways, which allowed him to get close and pet them, although, his interaction with the bears was dangerous for himself and the bears. The human act failing to understand animal nature alerts humans that there is a far gap in understanding nature and reality. The film teaches the viewers that nature could be tamed, and humans tend to underestimate that. Treadwell felt more comfortable in nature with the years spent amongst the bears than he did with humans. However, unknowingly he was invading the bears home, disrespecting and somewhat causing damage to the bears.
In Grizzly Man, Herzog states Treadwell was determined to show viewers that there is only a slight difference between humans and animals, although he didn’t take into consideration that humans are unable to comprehend animals’ lifestyles. He states, “occasionally I am challenged, and in that case, the kind warrior must become samurai, must become so formidable, so fearless of death, so strong that he will win”(Herzog) and this act allowed him to camp out in October and that period was when bears are on the hunt for food to store up for winter, hibernate and are increasingly aggressive. Treadwell did not carry any bear repellent spray as he miscalculated the state of the grizzly bears. He had a sentimental view of nature, thinking he was capable of controlling the wild bears. Herzog notes that “nature is cold and harsh”. Treadwell’s outlook on the bears was clouded and so he underestimated the danger, which resulted in his death and of his girlfriend. Furthermore, the bears that were oblivious of their killing were only protecting themselves from danger and looking for food. The film is only allowing the viewers to see Treadwell’s point of view of the bears, not how they feel towards humans. Herzog concludes at the end of the film that “no kinship, no understanding, no mercy (between Treadwell and the bears) just the overwhelming indifference of nature. There is no such thing as a secret world of the bears”.
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