The Grizzly Man

By: Stacey

This documentary is f-ed up. Did I already lose you at the word “documentary?” Just stay with me – I think they’re boring too. And honestly, this is probably the only one I’ve ever seen – but I can’t stop watching this one for some crazy ass reason. Let me summarize the story for you in a few sentences:

Guy goes and lives in a National Park in Alaska to “protect” and film grizzly bears with no weapons, and then he gets eaten by a grizzly bear. Since he’s only got a camera to talk to, he ends up using it as a confessional and opens up about his life (in-between bear footage). A year after his death, an odd-voiced German director takes this footage and turns it into a documentary.

But of course – everyone on planet earth minus this guy saw that coming. And you know what else? He didn’t actually protect any bears. He just lived there – and filmed them. He wasn’t diving in front of any hunter’s bullets that I saw. He wasn’t even a Park Ranger or ecologist. He was almost Woody Harrelson’s character on Cheers according to his dad, but I’m not sure that counts.

What’s even stranger is that I sort of get it. At one point he admits “I had no life before finding these bears.” Well, I understand that. Aren’t we all looking for a way to leave a mark on this world? He found something that no one else was doing – something that gave his life meaning. Was it utterly insane? Yes. Did he perhaps just pick a very unique way to commit suicide? I don’t think so (even though it was inevitable) – he found something he totally loved. Something he wanted to do good or bad – and I admire that. And he found a way to get his story out there – crazy and as un-flattering as it was (at one point, he’s touches some bear shit and it makes him cry with joy).

However to me, in the end, he was just a sweet animal-lover who had gotten lost in life and then found grizzly bears. It’s not so much even the “bears” that he found, so much as he found something that made him happy and gave him purpose, and really, there is absolutely nothing crazy about that.

So I bizarrely applaud you, Grizzly Man. And I’m sorry that you got eaten by the very thing that gave your life meaning. I wish this world would have been a gentler place for you – even as insane as you were.

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