Grizzly Man (2005)


"TRAGICOMEDY IS AN OVERWORKED WORD. YET NOTHING ELSE WILL DO. WERNER HERZOG, THAT CONNOISSEUR OF EXTREME FIGURES IN FAR-OFF PLACES, HAS MADE AN INSPIRED DOCUMENTARY ABOUT THE GONZO NATURALIST TIMOTHY TREADWELL, WHO IN 2003 ENDED UP AS LUNCH FOR THE BEARS HE LIVED WITH IN THE REMOTE ALASKAN WILDERNESS"
Timothy Treadwell was a troubled kid from Long Island who aspired  to be an actor. That did not work and disappointments sent him over the edge into drink and drug crises. Eventually he came out the other side clean and sober, but with a new passion: the grizzly bears of Alaska. Every summer, he went camping out there with his video camera and his attitude problem, regularly breaking the US park rangers' rule not to come within 100 yards of a bear. Timothy got up close and personal, giving them cute names like "Mr Chocolate" and "Sgt Brown", patting them on the nose, and becoming obsessed with gaining the bears' respect for his courage in doing so. 
He gave himself a mission to teach the world about these animals, and he was touring schools and giving illustrated talks to kids without accepting a fee. But he also angrily claimed, in some of his looniest monologues, that he was "protecting" the bears from poachers or even the federal authorities. 
The sad truth was that he did not add anything to our knowledge of bears.


If I show weakness, I'm dead. They will take me out, they will decapitate me, they will chop me up into bits and pieces I'm dead. So far, I persevere. I persevere. So speaks Timothy Treadwell, balanced somewhere between the grandiose and the manic, in Werner Herzog's "Grizzly Man."
In happier times, we see Treadwell as a guest on the David Letterman show. "Is it going to happen," Letterman asks him, "that we read a news item one day that you have been eaten by one of these bears?" Audience laughter. Later in the film, we listen to the helicopter pilot who retrieved Treadwell's bones a few days after he died: "He was treating them like people in bear costumes. He got what he deserved. The tragedy of it is, he took the girl with him."
"Grizzly Man" is unlike any nature documentary I've seen; it doesn't approve of Treadwell, and it isn't sentimental about animals. It was assembled by Herzog, the great German director, from some 90 hours of video that Treadwell shot in the wild, and from interviews with those who knew him, including Jewel Palovak of Grizzly People, the organization Treadwell founded. She knew him as well as anybody.

The documentary is an uncommon meeting between Treadwell's loony idealism, and Herzog's bleak worldview. Treadwell's footage is sometimes miraculous, as when we see his close bond with a fox who has been like his pet dog for 10 years. Or when he grows angry with God because a drought has dried up the salmon run and his bears are starving. He demands that God make it rain and, what do you know, it does.
https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/grizzly-man-2005


GRIZZLY MAN (2005)



Werner Herzog

Werner Herzog is a German film director, screenwriter, author, actor, and opera director. Werner Herzog was born in Munich on September 5, 1942. He grew up in a remote mountain village in Bavaria and studied History and German Literature in Munich and Pittsburgh. He made his first film in 1961 at the age of 19. Since then he has produced, written, and directed more than sixty feature- and documentary films.
Herzog lives in Munich and Los Angeles.