Nonfiction

Violent nature

Book cover for 'Violence's fabled experiment'

We never see the bear kill Timothy Treadwell in 2003 in Grizzly Man, but Werner Herzog's documentary couldn't exist without the violence that befell Treadwell, who, however naively, ventured into Alaskan bear country over 13 summers. Herzog is one of three filmmakers whom anthropologists Baxstrom, A&S '06 (PhD), and Meyers, A&S '07 (MA), '09 (PhD), explore in this compact, heady book that asks if being human requires a capacity for violence that defines itself against nature. Like Herzog, the other filmmakers—Joshua Oppenheimer (director of the Indonesia genocide documentaries The Act of Killing and The Look of Silence) and Lucien Castaing-Taylor (the fishing industry doc Leviathan)—obliquely chart violence's trauma, and Baxstrom and Meyers wonder if our humanness can survive our continued insistence that we're outside of it.

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