As Werner Herzog’s Grizzly Man comes to the end of its theatrical
run, Reaction Releasing and Ventura Entertainment bring another much-lauded man-meets-bear
documentary to DVD, director Peter Lynch’s Project Grizzly (1996). Lynch’s
portrait of naturalist Troy Hurtubise doesn’t share the tragic trajectory of Herzog’s
exploration of bear-watcher Timothy Treadwell’s life and death, but it revels
in documenting the same eccentric energy of a man running headlong into the sublime.
A Canadian scrap-metal dealer with a degree in natural sciences, Hurtubise discovered
his life’s mission after surviving a face-to-face encounter with a wild grizzly.
Using his own money and resources, he set out to build a grizzly-proof suit to
facilitate, he says, close-quarters bear research. Hurtubise’s claims to science,
however, are made suspect not only by the homespun appearance of his prototype
— an awkward fusion of a space suit and medieval armor — but by his unorthodox
testing methods. Lynch mines much humor from scenes of Hurtubise, in full costume,
being thrown down a hill, hit with swinging logs and run into by a flatbed truck,
while Hurtubise himself cultivates a decidedly mythical and mystical aura. Dressed
as a modern-day Daniel Boone with buckskin and bowie knives, he speaks of spirit
guides and revelatory dreams, and there’s never much doubt that he longs to once
more ride those waves of primal fear and wonder that swelled when he first ran
into the bear he calls The Old Man. Lynch underscores that desire by intercutting
dreary shots of Hurtubise’s slow-moving rural hometown with majestic scenes of
Canada’s northern wilderness. Whatever else its purpose, Hurtubise’s suit is an
ingenious means of escape.

Other recommended new releases: Arrested Development: The Complete Second Season
(DVD); Flesh (DVD); Heat (DVD); Soap: The Complete Fourth Season
(DVD); Trash (DVD).Also released this week:VHS/DVD: The Sisterhood of
the Traveling Pants
. DVD: 11:14; Bionicle 3: Web of Shadows; Bomb the System;
The Bridge of San Luis Rey; Ellen Degeneres: The Beginning & Here and Now; The
Fog (Dhund); The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air: The Complete Second Season; Greatest
Ballets of the World: The Nutcracker, Romeo and Juliet, The Sleeping Beauty, Swan
Lake; Happily Ever After; Hondo; The Jeffersons: The Complete Fourth Season; Kicking
& Screaming (2005); Kingdom of Heaven; Last Goodbye; Martha’s Classic Thanksgiving;
Martha’s Favorite Family Dinners; Martha’s Holidays 2005; Martha’s Homemade Holidays;
McClintock; Only Fools and Horses: Complete Series 6; Pure Heat: Ultimate MLB;
Sex-A-Go-Go Collection: The Yellow Teddybears/Zeta One/Secrets of A Windmill Girl/Girl
Flesh; Show Me; Tom and Jerry: The Fast and the Furry; Unleashed; Unveiled; Veronica
Mars: The Complete First Season.

LA Weekly