Director Paul Solet recreated the steel-plated bulldozer Marvin Heemeyer welded together before his notorious rampage
Narcissistic rage is a dangerous thing. The people of Granby, Colorado can attest to that.
In 2004 a master welder and muffler shop owner named Marvin Heemeyer, aggrieved by ill treatment he felt several townspeople had visited on him, went on a rampage that a psychologist might argue was triggered by a narcissistic injury. Instead of dealing maturely and calmly with the slights he felt he had endured, Heemeyer stewed and plotted. His wounded ego, one can speculate, could not allow him to resolve the issues peacefully or simply let them go.
Ultimately, Heemeyer decided to exact revenge on those he felt had wronged him by turning a bulldozer into a steel fortress on treads, which he drove through town wrecking buildings owned or occupied by his perceived antagonists.
Director Paul Solet recounts the incident in his documentary Tread, which held its world premiere at the SXSW Film Festival in Austin, Texas. The film feels like a nonfiction cross between Mad Max: Fury Road and Duel, with a touch of Wild Wild Country thrown in.
Solet cast actors to play Heemeyer and other main characters, and he drew on audiotapes Marvin left behind explaining his motivations. Most astonishingly, the director created a replica of Heemeyer's "killdozer," down to the armor-plating. His approach makes for an immersive experience packed both with action and psychological nuance.
Heemeyer's story is not black and white, and I'm probably not the only viewer who will feel some sympathy for him. He did not survive the incident, but in death has become something of a folk hero.
The video below is from my conversation with Solet recorded at the Driskill Hotel in Austin.
Matthew Carey is a documentary filmmaker and journalist. His work has appeared on Deadline.com, CNN, CNN.com, TheWrap.com, NBCNews.com and in Documentary magazine.