A Twisted Tale of a Drug Smuggler and An Animal Gone Berserk
Last Updated: February 26, 2023, 13:58 IST
Cinema is a magical medium, and it offers dozens and dozens of possibilities. Sometimes, it can be a city – as we saw in Satyajit Ray’s Mahanagar – in which Calcutta (now Kolkata) becomes a focal point, nay almost a character. Adoor Gopalakrishnan had birds and animals as characters. Sometimes, it can be a city – as we saw in Satyajit Ray’s Mahanagar – in which Calcutta (now Kolkata) becomes a focal point, nay almost a character. Adoor Gopalakrishnan had birds and animals as characters. In his Elippathayam, rats symbolised the decline and decay of a feudal household; in Anantaram, the cranes, the crows and the mynahs became interesting characters.
We can draw a parallel to all these in Elizabeth Banks’ Cocaine Bear, which has the animal as the centre of it all. Now playing in theatres in some countries, the film has its protagonist a Bear, which is also known as Pablo Eskobear. Banks’ film, scripted by Jimmy Warden, is inspired by the 1985 discovery of a dead bear in Georgia’s Chattahoochee National Forest.
The story of the bear began in September 1985, when a convicted drug smuggler, Andrew Thornton, died in a parachuting accident. It is said that he was flying in a plane with 880 pounds of cocaine and they some out fearing that cops were trailing him. He was reported dead after some months, and some $15 million worth of the drug was found on him!
Four months later, a bear entered the picture. It was found dead in Georgia, and the Associated Press later reported findings from Dr. Kenneth Alonso, Georgia’s chief medical examiner at the time. The doctor performed an autopsy on the bear and found that it had three or four grams of cocaine in its bloodstream, although the bear could have consumed even more. Rumours have long circulated that the bear ate all 40 containers worth of cocaine, which would be about 35 pounds, that Thornton threw out of the plane.
Screenwriter Jimmy Warden told Variety, that the movie was not historical fiction but “my twisted fantasy of what I wish actually happened after the bear did all that cocaine.”
Banks signed on to direct “Cocaine Bear” because she saw it as an opportunity to give the bear its own point of view. She said she had “a deep sympathy for the bear” after reading the original reports from 1985.
“I really felt like this is so fucked up that this bear got dragged into this drug run gone bad and ends up dead,” Banks said. “I felt like this movie could be that bear’s revenge story.”
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