________________ CM . . . . Volume IV Number 20 . . . . June 5, 1998

Image Project Grizzly (Short Version)

Directed by Peter Lynch. Produced by Michael Allder.
Montreal, PQ: The National Film Board of Canada.
52 min. 3 sec. (Short ver.) 72 min. (Long ver.) VHS $39.95.
Order Number 113C 9196 047.

Subject Headings:
Bear hunting-Canadian Rockies (B.C. and Alta.).
Grizzly bear-Behaviour.
Bear attacks.
Protective clothing.

Grades 8 and up / Ages 13 and up.
Review by Dave Jenkinson.

*** /4

image Moby Dick's Captain Ahab had his great white whale, but Troy Hurtubise of Thunder Bay, Ontario, has his "Old Man," a Rocky Mountain grizzly bear which, some years ago, "ambushed" Hurtubise in the Rockies and could have killed him although, for unknown reasons, it chose not to. Since then, Hurtubise appears to have been driven to create a protective suit which would allow a human to withstand the killing strength of a grizzly. The creation of that suit, which has consumed more than $100,000 and seven years of Hurtubise's life, becomes the stuff of the documentary, Project Grizzly. Via what sometimes appear to be home videos, viewers get to see the suit being tested in its various stages of development - a suit-clad Hurtubise being struck by a large swinging log or being hit by a three-ton truck travelling 50 kilometres per hour or being "attacked" by club-wielding bikers. As well, viewers are offered tantalizing glimpses of the man behind the suit and are given hints of the motivations for his quest - competition with a strong, creative father, the teen who did not want to grow up to be average and bored, a would-be Jacques Cousteau. Finally Hurtubise returns to the Rockies to test the Ursus Mark VI version of his suit by facing the "Old Man," a term which has now come to mean any grizzly. Donning the Mark VI, which looks like a cross between an astronaut's bulky space suit and a child's transformer toy, Hurtubise suffers the ignominy of falling helplessly flat on his face because the suit's legs and feet are too inflexible to move on uneven mountainous ground, an outcome which most viewers would have expected Hurtubise to have anticipated. With this version of the suit abandoned, Hurtubise does see a grizzly and then returns to Thunder Bay to begin work on Ursus Mark VII.

      While Project Grizzly does not offer any obvious curricular tie-ins, it would make an entertaining exercise in character study because few viewers will be able to leave the video without having formed some strong opinions about Hurtubise. Students' views will likely polarize, and each of the two opposing groups will certainly be able to find evidence from the video to support their positions. An interesting extension of the character study would be to view the longer version as well to ascertain if the content provided by the "missing" 20 minutes modifies or confirms perceptions.


Dave Jenkinson teaches young adult literature in the Faculty of Education, University of Manitoba.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364