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«Project Grizzly: Chasing a Bear »

The title of the film Project Grizzly entices to think of some secret government experiments on animals. However, the topic discussed by the documentary is even more banal. The picture shows a story of an individual, Troy James Hurtubise, who is obsessed with a quest to create a super armor capable of protecting a human while meeting a grizzly. On the one hand, the viewer is overwhelmed with details and explanations of the protagonist’s endeavors and his diligent work on testing and improving the invention. Setting a challenge to himself and a bear which he considers his secret enemy, Hurtubise launches a mission to safeguard people by making his home-made invention a perfect anti-grizzly protection. On the other hand, it seems to be nothing more but another attempt to demonstrate human superiority over strong animals and prove that man is the king of nature.

The opening scene clearly shows personal motives of this vital goal, as  the main character met a grizzly once in an open area of the Canadian landscape and the animal simply left him alone in bewilderment. This event became the starting point of his grizzly-focused obsession that made his hobby vital to people around him. As a result, a team of like-minded friends joined the bear hunter in his undertaking. A viewer sees a large-scale project aimed at multilevel testing of a spaceman-like suit that can hardly be compared with practically useful means of protection. The invention is awkward because the tester can barely walk in it. Nonetheless, the fact that the developer can withstand a timber hit and a number of other trials encourages one to believe that its survival characteristics may be justified.

Apart from permanent testing and perfecting the suit, Hurtubise chases after the targeted animal in any place around his residence whenever he finds out about a bear’s presence and activities. What is more, he even becomes part of a grizzly-centered expedition in order to meet the animal face-to-face. At the same time, the only one-on-one encounter between Hurtubise and a grizzly is linked to their meeting when the latter is in a cage. In this case, the man is brave and reveals his sincere willingness to meet with the grizzly as equals. Nevertheless, a real-life closeness of the man and a bear at the end of the film shows the former as a mere observer of the grizzly as a master of the wild space, since the man has no suit to protect himself, while his desire to demonstrate his own invulnerability with respect to the animal overwhelms his spirit. Therefore, Hurtubise’s quest for the clear and undeniable proof of human superiority over grizzlies will continue even after this encounter.

Regardless of the fact that the documentary seems to be a self-focused story with respect to the central character, it reveals a collective mindset of mankind as a whole, if one were to delve deeper into the message conveyed to the audience. Similarly to any other human vs. animal challenge, a man is positioned as brave, smart and industrious whereas a bear is depicted as wild, cruel and dangerous. Such contrasting comparison is vividly illustrated from the start of the film when Hurtubise tells about his meeting with a merciful grizzly, and the next what the viewers see is how two bears horrendously roar and attack each other. With this little detail, the above-mentioned stereotype of this animal is subconsciously communicated to the audience. In addition, the same message is linked to the radio news broadcasting that a few humans were hurt after meeting a grizzly. It follows that the film attempts to position Hurtubise’s goal as a mission of securing humanity from a danger that these bears embody. With virtually invisible but evident details, these messages are clearly conveyed to the audience.

Furthermore, survival in a face-to-face meeting with a bear is communicated in the light of other lessons when a focus from the armor suit shifts to hints from the hunter’s perspective. The main character himself emphasizes a necessity for a person willing to cognize the beauty of Canada’s wild nature to carry not only a hunter’s knife. He gives a valuable survival lesson that puts an accent on the fact that a gun will hardly protect under such circumstances. On the contrary, having a knife that is safely hidden on one’s leg can be of crucial importance in such a critical situation. The initiator of this quest and suit inventor supports his arguments with evidence from his in-depth research in the area and substantial practical experience as a hunter. Hence, once again, it is possible to understand that the film’s primary idea is to convince the viewers that the targeted animal is dangerous and equip the audience with knowledge and skills of escaping this danger.

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On a similar note, the fact that the protagonist himself obtained mercy from this horrifying beast entices one to think that the perspective of the problem is rather one-sided. Namely, it seems strange why the documentary does not show how to avoid encounters with grizzlies and to coexist sustainably with the bears. None of the film’s parts presents the evidence that grizzlies are blind predators which attack every human being they meet on their way. Moreover, when the viewers are provided with frightening narration about attacks on people, the documentary reveals no details of such terrifying events. Therefore, it is unclear if the animals were provoked to protect themselves or there were any other essential circumstances. As a result, such direction of the film seems sufficiently prejudiced and stereotyped. In this way, it is weird to accept it as the inevitable truth. To be more precise, humans always attempt to demonstrate that they represent higher species who are determined to do their best in order to permanently show their superior position within the habitat. Thus, a more in-depth analysis of the essence of the picture allows to assume that humans tend to justify themselves in destroying these animals for the sake of their safety.



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