Grizzly Man (2005) Poster


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I just can't stop shaking my head
MemphisMourning23 August 2005
Upon coming out of Grizzly Man, with my friend, I couldn't help noticing my own face in the reflection of the lobby mirrors... my face was completely blank. I looked over at my friend, and noticed she was merely staring down at her shoes and scratching her nose. Exiting out onto the street, joining the rest of the crowd as we all search for our cars, I couldn't help but believe I was still staring into the lobby mirrors... nearly every head was shaking, and every expression blank.

I now believe I will never know how I feel about Timothy Treadwell. A boy who accidentally grew into a man.

Grizzly Man immediately opens with the facts surrounding Timothy Treadwell and his girlfriend Amie Huguenard's death. These facts will stay inside you as you grow acquainted with Timothy and the animals surrounding his demise. Sadly, Amie Huguenard remains a faceless mystery.

Werner Herzog's soul remains intact, as he gently disassembles the matter of Timothy Treadwell's. Failed actor? Inveterate liar? Misguided Mercenary? Was Timothy Treadwell merely playing out the part of some great Discovery Channel episode in his head? We watch and listen as a lonely Timothy walks and talks into his only companion, a MiniDV camera, about his female problems, drug problems, memories and most importantly his love of animals.

Bears and Foxes in particular. There is one thing you could never doubt about this man, and that is of his love for Bears. "I love you, I love you..." We constantly hear him saying to the Bear's and Foxes that had become his "friends" over the years. And through Herzog's direction it is impossible to miss the beauty in this.

Timothy Treadwell's photography in this film is absolutely extraordinary. And Mr. Herzog did an extraordinary job putting it all together. In my opinion, this is his best film since Little Dieter Needs To Fly. (Un) fortunately, I cannot stop thinking about it. I cannot stop wondering who this man was... He wrapped himself in bandana's, claimed to be a "Peaceful Warrior", there to protect the Bears. But from what? The arguments were made that acquainting himself with them, he was doing much more harm then good. Why should they get to know a human? How could this help them in the future? And we know how it ended for him...

How can you just sit there and watch one mans whole life be wrapped up in a two hour film? And then declare his work meaningless? You can't. Was he just a suicidal man, playing one big act? Was he truly some feral warrior, bringing awareness and the importance of Bear protection and safety to light? Was he a directionless maniac who ultimately got an innocent girl killed?

The duality of Timothy Treadwell is merely one more example of the duality of mankind. And the mirror in which I had been looking into had, in fact, been the movie screen itself. Unfortunately, it appears as though he believed the Bears surrounding him shared this depth. And who am I to tell you they don't?
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A life both tragic and silly
Chris Knipp24 August 2005
For thirteen years "grizzly man" Timothy Treadwell went to an Alaskan wildlife refuge on Kodiak Island and pitched his tent alone -- and the last couple of times with a girlfriend (Amy Huguenard) -- spending the summers among huge grizzly bears. The rest of the year he went to schools and "free of charge" showed his films of the bears and his exploits. When the last of his summers drew to a close he and his girlfriend died among the grizzlies as he'd always known -- and even David Letterman had pointed out -- that he might. Filmmaker Werner Herzog, longtime student of crazy eccentric loners on heroic doomed quests, has taken on Treadwell's life and personality as the subject of a rare and powerful documentary.

At the heart of "Grizzly Man" are Herzog's selective cullings from film Treadwell left behind chronicling both the bears and his own demons. Herzog has added interviews with women in Treadwell's life, with his parents, with the pilot who took him to and from his campgrounds and later found his and his girlfriend's remains, and with Franc Fallico, the unusually sympathetic and sensitive -- and perhaps a bit looney -- coroner who examined these. The director has bound it all together with his own frank and idiosyncratic narration. The result is a rare sober look at the more delusional aspects of man's relations to wild animals.

At times Herzog by implication sympathetically links Treadwell with his former principle star and sparring partner, the late mad eccentric actor Klaus Kinski. Like Kinski Treadwell had tantrums on a film set. But his set was the outdoors and there was no director to spar with; his sparring partners were nature and his own troubled psyche. Nature contained, of course, living witnesses, chief among them the grizzly bears he knows can kill him. He repeatedly tells the camera how much he loves them. He loves the gentler, smaller foxes near whose dens he pitches his tents during the second halves of his summer sojourns. He tells the camera you must be firm with the bears, and he says he knows how to handle them, even though he also repeatedly says he knows he may die there. He is a gambler. Is he a complex man, or merely a confused one? Is he brave, or just foolhardy? What is his purpose in spending all this time among the grizzlies? Is he gathering information, or taking refuge among creatures he need not please, only keep a safe distance from (though he continually comes closer to bears than the park rules and good sense require)? He has a soft sissified manner and voice and even says he wishes he were gay. But he also rants and rages embarrassingly and tiresomely against unseen enemies, poachers, sightseers, rangers, hunters, park officials, the whole urban settled world he runs from to this world he idealizes and blindly sees as perfect. As Herzog notes, Treadwell sought to disregard nature's cruelty, and any time it was in his face -- as when the bears were starving in a dry spell and began eating their own young -- he sought to manipulate nature to eliminate the ugliness. He faults not the bears but the rain gods.

Young Timothy according to his parents was an ordinary boy who loved animals from childhood and got a diving scholarship to college. But he injured his back and quit college and he drank and when he went to LA to act and didn't get a part on Cheers he "spiraled down." He never had a lasting relationship with a woman and the drinking became serious and constant. In vain he tried programs, meetings, self-discipline -- but the drinking went on and was killing him. Finally he got sober for the grizzlies and the foxes. He decided to devote his life to them and he pledged to them that he would be clean and healthy. It was a miracle. Yet he remained not only manic-depressive but passive-aggressive, as his alternations between gentle declarations of love of the animals and his spewing of vitriol against the civilized world attest.

Treadwell's soft-voiced declarations of love and sweetness among the grizzlies would be beautiful -- if such behavior, in a world of extreme physical risk, surrounded by limber lumbering beasts with great teeth and long claws, while preening for the camera with caps and bandanas and golden locks in a dozen alternate takes -- were not criminally silly and irresponsible. Herzog hides none of this in his portrait, which is both sympathetic and ruthless.

As the years passed the Grizzly Man found transitions back to civilization harder and harder to make. On the last occasion, an airport official infuriated him by questioning the validity of his ticket and he turned around with his girlfriend -- who was afraid of bears! -- and returned to the "maze," the most dangerous of his summer campgrounds because it wasn't in the open where the bears could see him and steer clear but among their burrows and the brush. It was later than he ever stayed and the bears he knew and had names for were hibernating now, replaced by new unknown and more hostile and nasty animals. He must also have been more desperate, perhaps more careless? We see the bear that probably devoured him and the woman.

Herzog has access to everything, even an audio-only tape of Timothy and Amy's truly grizzly death. He spares us, though.

As Herzog begins his film by stating, Timothy Treadwell crossed a line between wild animal and human that should never be crossed. This is a line so many other touchy-feely "nature" and "wildlife" films cross. See "The March of the Penguins" and you'll have a prime example. "Grizzly Man" isn't meant to be about grizzlies. It's about men who cross that line -- who willfully misunderstand nature for their own misguided reasons, to serve their own dysfunctional needs.
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Hubris Brings Down a Quixotic Man-Child in the Wilderness
Harlybeast20 August 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Werner Herzog has created an outstanding documentary feature, adeptly letting Timothy Treadwell's work speak for itself. Herzog interjects his own opinions only on occasion and makes no attempt to demonize or rehabilitate Treadwell's complicated legacy. The footage of the grizzlies is amazing, something far more intimate (for better and for worse) than anything I have ever seen in other documentary footage. It is almost beyond belief that Treadwell lasted 13 years in Alaska among these bears before he finally met his end. He had deluded himself into thinking that he had earned (or been given by God?) some kind of special immunity from harm among these animals. What complicates this delusion is the fact that he knew he had to behave as a "gentle warrior" among the grizzlies in order to fend off their occasional aggressive maneuvers. This description, although somewhat romanticized, at least acknowledges a rational need for some form of protection among the bears. Treadwell decides to camp in the heart of the "Grizzly Maze" almost as a means of proving his special ability to survive the dangers that would no doubt capture and claim ordinary men. He dares the wilderness to take his life---and it does. I agree with Herzog's decision not to play the audio recording of the attack. Seeing the expression on the ex-girlfriend's face as Herzog listens to the tape himself is very poignant. Herzog, however, seems to grandstand a bit when he counsels the woman to destroy the tape and never listen to it. The woman should be allowed to make up her own mind what to do with the tape and does not need Herzog's or anyone else's advice in that regard. However, this is a minor quibble against so many skillful moments brought to life in Herzog's film. On a final note, I think that Treadwell missed his calling---he was definitely a Fox Man rather than a Grizzly Man! Those foxes adored him!
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Treadwell: An addict not in recovery
johnnyG77725 August 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Grizzly Man works on a lot of different levels. However, as a recovering addict and alcoholic, what I found most interesting about the film was how it exposed Timothy Treadwell as an addict (alcoholic) who may have swapped his substance addiction (drugs and alcohol) for a process addiction (gambling, sex, danger) with the bears. Like all addicts in their disease(and not in recovery), he basically needed more and more bear to get the same fix (high) he experienced during his initial contact with them.

With all addictions, there is a progressive movement away from truth. As Timothy's bear addiction moved him away from reality and toward a state of "insanity." His distorted thinking becomes apparent in the footage he shot of himself (that was never aired on his TV Special, The Grizzly Diaries).

"Addictions (without recovery) are almost always progressive and fatal." -- Anne Wilson Schaef

Everything about Timothy's behavior, from the misplaced anger at the Forest Service and exaggerated paranoia about poachers, to his delusional thinking about actually being a bear, showed a person trapped in their disease and moving further away from reality.

Add to the fact, that his impaired thinking process was based upon faulty beliefs. And this is where his lack of formal training or education in zoology, or any of the natural sciences, really came back to bite him. (No pun intended).

A "non-addict" thinking person would have understood that if a male bear will kill cubs to stop a female bear from lactating so that she'll want to mate again, and that hungry bears do eat other bears to survive, that maybe they could eat me too!

Like all addicts, Timothy became progressively self-centered, isolated, paranoid, confused, controlling, perfectionist, blinded to his disease (denial), insane, blaming (projection), and dysfunctional. In short, his life had become unmanageable. And ultimately it put him, his girlfriend and at least two bears to death.

Herzog's film works as a tragedy. But also serves as a cautionary tale for all addicts, that can be summed-up by a lyric from Neil Young:

"The very thing that makes you live, can kill you in the end." -- Neil Young
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A Perfect Match
jemenfoutisme15 August 2005
Anyone who has followed the trajectory of Werner Herzog from the time of "Even Dwarfs Started Small" will understand the immediate appeal that the Treadwell story must have had for this intensely brilliant German director. Treadwell must have seemed to Herzog like a Laguna Beach version of his Fitzcarraldo and his Aguirre and even of Herzog himself in his more unhinged moments. This film appears at first to be a fair minded documentary about Tim Treadwell, the 'protector' of all things natural and wild in the remote regions of Alaska. What Herzog shows us, however, is that what Treadwell really needed protection from was reality itself and that his escape into the wilds was just a deadly game of denial.

The film is also a meditation on the brute force of nature, on art and on human hubris. My wife found the 'character' of Tim Treadwell so ludicrous and offensive that she had to leave the theater. For my part, I was in awe of both Treadwell's incredible physical courage coupled with his absolute lack of judgment and his insane narcissism. He struck me as a cross between Pee-Wee Herman and Marlon Perkins, the guy who narrated the Mutual of Omaha nature documentaries that showed up on Sunday afternoons in the 60's and 70's.

The word is that Hollywood, in the person of Leonardo DiCaprio, was a financial supporter of Treadwell's 'mission'in Alaska and that a Hollywood version of the story is due out sometime soon with Di Caprio playing the lead. I know I won't be going to see that version because it will just continue the lie and the myth that Treadwell tried so hard to create and sustain. Even at his most intense moments of profoundity Treadwell had nothing to 'say' to anyone about either bears or himself. It was all self-serving and self-congratulatory and it is only in his grotesque death at the hands of a rogue grizzly that any meaningful message finally comes across. (Herzog thankfully spares us from the actual experience which was caught on audio but not on video because the lens cap had been left on.)

Its hard not to feel sorry for Tim Treadwell and the young woman who died with him, but the 'native' scientist in the film put it quite nicely "My people have been living nicely with bears for thousands of years and we know enough to stay out of each other's way."

Tim Treadwell wanted desperately to cross the boundary into the 'way' of the bear because the 'way of the human' was too much for him. Despite his goofy, childish demeanor he revealed himself to be a man of deep anger and resentment. However, if the bears had let him live he would probably be considered something of a folk-hero in 'reality' obsessed America.

Herzog shows us that there was nothing real about Treadwell at all and that the bears knew a lot more about him than he ever would of them.
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Another complex protagonist for Herzog
jdesando3 August 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Timothy Treadwell was not a well man when he spent 13 years among the brown Grizzlies in Alaska until his time ran out one day as dinner for one of them. For me "not well" means he didn't quite understand that no matter how much he "loved" the bears, they couldn't always return the favor.

For director Werner Herzog, of Aguirre: The Wrath of God and Fitzcarraldo fame, most of his work is devoted to eccentric and often crazed but charismatic leading men. He captures in his voice-over the essential madness of Treadwell in his new film, Grizzly Man. Using over 100 hours of the young man's footage and narration, Herzog fashions an objective documentary of Treadwell's rise and fall. At one point Herzog explains over a close up shot of a grizzly's eyes that he sees nothing but "the overwhelming indifference of nature." The emptiness of Treadwell's assertion that he knows the bears is only too evident when we listen to the animated report of the coroner as he reconstructs the mauling of Treadwell and his girlfriend. Treadwell did, however, predict he would "live and die" with his friends.

Thus, Herzog has another complex protagonist with hubris and innocence enough to guarantee early passage from life. This documentary does well showing Treadwell's love of drama, his alienation from society, and his superior naiveté when it comes to formidable animals such as the grizzly. Herzog also offers memorable photography of Alaska and Treadwell's own footage, which shows him often too close to the bears. However, Timothy did last for 13 years among them; he just seemed to forget that he could not win that game.

Treadwell says of the grizzlies, "Everything about them is perfect." Everything about Timothy is not. Grizzly Man is a cautionary tale about crossing the invisible line between man and beast, the cost of ignorance, and the allure of a personal vision, in this case that of a lost soul who discovers his calling but goes beyond what is allowed to mortals. Grizzly Man will help you overcome romantic notions about wild beasts (and pesky Alaskan black flies).
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Portrait of a Narcissist
Warning: Spoilers
It became apparent from the first scene of "Grizzly Man" that I was watching raw film footage of a mentally ill man. Given that the bulk of the film consists of Timothy Treadwell talking into a camera, for the bulk of the film you, the audience member, seek entertainment or enlightenment from a raw encounter with a madman. Tourists used to visit asylums like Bedlam. As I watched this disturbing film, I asked myself, am I no better than those creepy tourists at Bedlam? "Grizzly Man" also rapidly became amazingly boring. I say "amazingly" because you wouldn't think that a film depicting such a naked encounter - man against nature, or, properly, nature against man - would bore. But mentally ill people often are quite boring, and Treadwell, so lost inside his own sad, limited, dead-end mind, bored me.

I had to do a forced march through the boredom. And, I came to appreciate this movie as something it isn't marketed as at all, but definitely is. More on that, below.

Timothy Treadwell was a boyish, blond actor who spent thirteen summers doing primitive camping among what is sometimes labeled earth's largest land carnivore: Kodiak Island grizzly bears. (Polar bears are also sometimes labeled earth's largest land carnivore; let's let the bears duke it out for the title among themselves.) Treadwell and his willowy blonde companion, Amie Huguenard (you couldn't make these names up), were killed and devoured by a grizzly bear; the sounds of that attack were recorded by Treadwell's camera (the lens cap was left on . . . one can't help but think of the sad, sick jokes this might inspire.) I knew all that going in, from a lengthy "Vanity Fair" expose; I thought, what can I get from this movie? Werner Herzog adds minimal commentary. For the most part, you are watching film footage shot by Treadwell himself, of Treadwell himself. There are a few short scenes of the bush pilot who flew Treadwell in and out of his last campsite, the coroner who examined "four garbage bags full of human remains" pulled from the intestines of the killer grizzly, a Native American grizzly museum curator, Treadwell's suburban and normal parents, his flakey girlfriend Jewel Palovak, a male friend from California. No one advances any grand, overarching theory. Treadwell pere does indicate that losing the role of the bartender on "Cheers," that went to Woody Harrelson, drove his son into a downward spiral.

Given the minimal commentary, viewers will inevitably interpret Treadwell according to their own agendas. Rush-Limbaugh, exploit-the-earth types will denounce Treadwell as an "environmentalist wacko." This is wrong, of course; Treadwell has as much to do with true environmentalism as Mohammed Atta has to do with safe aircraft piloting.

Treadwell was not an environmentalist. He was not a symbol of the frontier. He was not a man obsessed by love. What Treadwell was, was a narcissist. Did Herzog miss this? I don't know if Herzog uses the word "narcissist" once. But what made this movie ultimately worth watching, for me, was its - perhaps inadvertent - presentation of a classic case study of narcissism.

The word "narcissism" gets tossed around a lot, often in ways that obscure its true meaning. Narcissists are not people who love themselves too much; in fact, true narcissists don't love themselves at all.

Narcissists detest themselves, and avoid, at all costs, any encounter with their true selves. Narcissists seek artificial, choreographed encounters, which they script and control, in which they can be seen as the superior beings that they want to be understood to be.

Unlike Treadwell, most narcissists don't create their dramas by interacting with wild animals; most narcissists create their dramas by interacting with people whom they can fool, manipulate, and control. For this reason, narcissists often associate with people they perceive as being less intelligent than they are, or weaker in some sense. Narcissists often seek out children, the ill, or the poor, whom they cast as characters in their productions.

In any encounter, though, the narcissist is not running toward intimacy, either with the self or the other; the narcissist is running away from contact with the self and the other at top speed.

I can't think of any more perfect encapsulation for narcissism than the image most common in "Grizzly Man." Treadwell sets up his camera on a tripod, and then stands in front of the camera, filming himself, with grizzlies in the background.

Treadwell goes on and on, repetitively, about what a great man he is, saying so explicitly. "I am a great man. I am doing great work. No one loves these grizzlies but I. No one is protecting these grizzlies but I. God is very happy with me" - he really says things like this. And the truly telling part of this triangle charade is this - there is nobody there. There is no audience. Treadwell filmed himself without any other people around. There is no grizzly. Treadwell did not understand these animals at all. He attributed feelings to them that they do not feel. And there is no Treadwell. This is a man who spent his last breath resisting any real encounter with himself.

There is a scene in which the real Tim Treadwell appears. He releases a torrent of violent verbal abuse against the real protectors of the grizzlies, the parks department. If you want to see the true scabrous soul of a narcissist, catch that scene.
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How do you feel after seeing this movie?
joyceamooney26 August 2005
I like it when I do know know how to feel! Herzog seems to start out by portraying a man, Timothy Treadwell, as a crazy, self-obsessed (NOT Grizzly-obsessed) individual who gets himself and his girlfriend killed for no purpose, in the Alaskan wilderness. Initially I thought that the story was a cross between 'Jackass' and the Discovery Channel - you have a dopey, though he only sounds like it, blonde surfer type who likes to approach (awfully close) and make sweet-talk with 10-foot bears. Viewers might see Timothy as a reckless, selfish misfit, but as the film continues, your appreciation for his cause deepens - but what is his cause? Is it to work out personal demons? Absolutely. Treadwell clearly has mental/emotional problems, just listen to how many times he tells the wild animals "I love you!" or when he talks about his lack of success with "human women." But his passion for the grizzlies and their wilderness is real. Herzog particularly commends him as a filmmaker, seizing unique opportunities and rendering priceless footage. Do not forget that TT lived close to the bears for 13 years (including the year he was killed) without harm; and that his success, his careful, intuitive, loving behavior was only partly self-aggrandizing.
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a kind of master's class in a schizo documentary- sometimes quite amusing and entertaining, other times very somber and depressing
MisterWhiplash16 August 2005
This documentary, written, directed, and narrated by German madman maestro Werner Herzog, has very little in it that isn't worth seeing, and at its best brings some of the most captivating, candid, and entertaining documentary footage of the year. The subject matter is an environmentalist/bear nut named Timothy Treadwell, a nobody who became a kind of weird celebrity for living each summer on an Alaskan wildlife preservation with Grizzly bears. He also documented a lot of his time on the island, which Herzog chooses wisely for his film on him. Treadwell may or may not have totally believed a fate like death among his co-habitants would come (there is one scene where he says he'd die for them, another when he says he's safe). But his fate did come, along with his girlfriends, rather grisly as we hear from the details (which, wisely, we never see).

One is tempted to comment on Treadwell, as he is (much as with Herzog's protagonists in his fiction films) possessive, ambitious, naive, dazed, emotional, but somehow in tune with his own sense of nature and the ways of the world. Herzog himself comments a good deal on Treadwell, when he agrees with him, when he doesn't (Herzog, as Roger Ebert pointed out, does have a bleak world-view as opposed to Treadwell's overly optimistic one). What one can comment on is the execution of the material. We get interviews with Treadwell's close friends (one platonic, one not), the people who found his and his girlfriend's bodies in the forest, and a couple of nearby experts (one Native American comments on how Treadwell did what they had never done in 7,000 years, to cross a boundary that was respected). Herzog also gives us majestic, spacious images of Alaskan wilderness, and gives some ample time for footage of the bears and foxes.

If not for Treadwell's rather high & low nature (as a friend comments), this might be a very standard documentary on a bear expert. But because of the documentary- or near television hosting footage (I sometimes felt like I was seeing a nicer, if stranger version, of the Croc Hunter)- of Treadwell on camera by himself, the film gets another dimension. It's also a help that in combating the grim reality of what became of him (Herzog's narration is this rather sad, if praising side), it's rather funny to see Treadwell in his behavior on screen. In some subtle ways he's in a more 'normal' state of mind than the rest of us- he loves his bears (whom, by the way, he gave names to; he stands his ground against the occasional poachers); he has that mix of sentimentality and rawness that is needed to live for so long in the wilderness.

The absurdity of it usually brings the laughs, but even behind them there is always a constant curiosity about him. We learn that he wanted to be an actor, which lead to a bad, near fatal spell before his 'bear' retreat, acting as more of a spiritual catalyst more than anything else. Even if some of this footage is a little zany, over-the-top, or may go far on his name, it is honest to a kind of schizo degree. We almost wouldn't want Treadwell to be normal, and go figure- Herzog would have no interest in him. In the end, despite Herzog's comments (which aren't the best parts of the film to me), his film tries not to pass judgment on Treadwell, letting his actions and other testimonies speak for themselves. And, if nothing else, it's compulsively (for a certain movie-viewer) watchable.
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Loved Herzog, but could not sympathize with Treadwell
chosunkid25 September 2005
***Possible Spoilers*** "Grizzly Man" is a documentary of Tim Treadwell who spends 13 summers in Alaska living amongst grizzly bears and eventually loses his life to the creatures to which he devoted all his heart.

I saw "Grizzly Man" without knowing anything about it. I first thought it would be a documentary about the beauty and behavior of grizzly bears. However, through Tim Treadwell's interaction with grizzly bears, Werner Herzog shows that this film is actually about the inadequacies and insecurities of human nature.

Tim Treadwell seems to be the culmination of many of the deficiencies that man possesses. I felt absolutely no sympathy for this individual, despite the fact that he suffered a tragic and horrible death. If it weren't bears that killed him, it probably would've been something else. He was definitely headed toward a downward spiral. I felt like he was a man who ran away from his demons because he could not face or overcome it. He developed high "ideals" and when he could not adjust his values and beliefs to that of society, he abandoned it and sought out for acceptance from creatures that are incapable of judging or criticizing Treadwell. Unfortunately, Treadwell mistakes the grizzly bears' indifference or incompetence as a sign of acceptance, and falls in love with them.

Treadwell displayed behavior suggestive of manic depressive disorder, or cyclothymic disorder, or histrionic personality disorder. His emotional reactions to incidents were over dramatic to the point that one questions whether it's genuine. I also thought that he was a closet homosexual who could not accept his sexual orientation. In the film, Treadwell talks about wishing he were gay because it would be easier, but he denies being gay. He also talks about how he has trouble with keeping relationships with girls. I know this is a big assumption, but I couldn't help but question whether he was running away from civilization hoping he didn't have to face the reality of his sexual orientation. Treadwell is a person who does not know himself, and is afraid to find out.

I also did not like the fact that Treadwell was on this unsubstantiated high horse. This self-proclaimed protector of animals and nature displays his hypocrisy in at least 2 scenes. When Treadwell stumbles upon poachers who throw rocks at a baby cub, all he does is hide behind a bush and criticizes the hunters for hurting the bear. Not quite what a "protector" would do. Also, when Treadwell discovers the dead fox, he gets angry for the destruction and death that exists in this world. However, he doesn't blink twice to try to swap a fly that is buzzing around the fox. Obviously he shows no respect for the fly, which is also a living organism.

Also, throughout the film, most of Treadwell's friends glorify all that he represented. It seems that his death has elevated him to a martyr, and I found that inappropriate. I don't believe one's achievements in life should be overblown and exaggerated because he or she suffered a tragic and violent death. Based on Treadwell's self-recordings, I find that he has done nothing to deserve any praise. The way he died is sad, but that should not have any bearing on what he did in life. If anything, Treadwell encroached upon the grizzly bears' territory, and abused their independence and way of life in order to hide behind the mask of his own demons. I find nothing altruistic about his actions because of that.

In the film, Herzog says that death and destruction is a unavoidable reality of nature, and he has done a brilliant job in portraying that. My take home message was that everything bad in this world exists because man is too weak and feeble-minded to transcend beyond our natural tendencies to destroy his surroundings and to self-destruct. And Treadwell is the perfect example. Great job Mr. Herzog.
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Not just a morality tale
Link000717 July 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Some would like to see 'Grizzly Man' as a morality tale, with the death of Timothy Treadwell an example for people not to follow. On the contrary, I see Treadwell as a tragic figure, not someone to be merely ridiculed and dismissed. Like a character in a play foreshadowing his own downfall, Treadwell repeatedly mentions the fact that his close proximity to the bears puts him in serious danger, and that he could be eaten if he is not careful. What Treadwell sees as his reason for existence and his greatest source of happiness ultimately destroys him. Herzog portrays him as he really was, a multi-faceted, complicated man, whose dreams sadly did not conform to our world.

It is fair to say that Treadwell was eccentric and delusional. Treadwell imagined himself as a champion and protector of the grizzlies, when in reality they were in little danger. He saw in his beloved grizzlies an idealised world of love and harmony. All the love and beauty that Treadwell thought was missing from civilisation he projected onto the bears. He was naive and delusional in that he failed to acknowledge the brutality and misery that are constants in our world. It is heartbreaking to see him encounter the half-chewed paw of a dead bear cub. Herzog's narration outlines his more pessimistic view of life and nature, where sorrow and ugliness are constants, not aberrations. Treadwell's violent death would prove Herzog right, adding to the tragedy and sadness created by this film. Treadwell was not a violent or evil man - he just didn't fit into our world. His belief that the world can be made a better place leads to his destruction. Herzog's film brilliantly captures the poignant sadness of Treadwell's death.
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Portrait of a Man Unable to Bear the World he Lived In
troy-12513 January 2006
Herzog's "Grizzly Man" is a miraculous documentary. He started by collecting hundreds of hours of video tape shot by the movie's subject, Timothy Treadwell. The director then culls through the footage and assembles a fascinating portrait of this uniquely bold (and clearly troubled) human being: Treadwell spent 13 summers living amongst grizzly bears in the wilds of Alaska, before being killed by one in the summer of 2003.

Treadwell's footage is gorgeous, and at times heart-stopping: a grizzly battle caught on tape is the stuff Animal Planet would kill for. But the footage goes beyond simply revealing the harsh yet beautiful reality of the Alaskan wilderness. The camera soon becomes a silent confidant to Treadwell's self-obsessed confessions. For one, he sees himself as the singular savior of the wildlife preserve he camps at and the creatures that reside there. But he also sees himself becoming increasingly less connected to the real world he lives in 9 months out of the year. The footage here is most poignant, revealing Treadwell's inner struggles. It paints a picture of a lonely man searching, perhaps desperately, for purpose in a world he feels has rejected him. Most eerily prescient are Treadwell's repeated remarks about how he would die for the bears, though his eventual death does not appear to be the martyrdom he so clearly sought.

This is where the film is most riveting - in Treadwell's footage, focused on the man, the bears, and the force of nature around them. Less compelling are Herzog's talking head interviews with Treadwell's friends and family - although they do help to solve (as much as possible) the puzzle of where Timothy came from, what lead him to the bears, and why he was killed.

It would not be a Herzog film with the director's own philosophical palette framing the story. Herzog's commentary reveals his longstanding view that nature is cruel and that chaos is the constant in our life experience, not harmony. That Treadwell saw beauty and soul in the bears seems to be beside the point, since ultimately their need for sustenance made them turn on their self-appointed protector.
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The Best film during Sundance and one of the greatest Doc's EVER!!
willden2131 January 2005
Warner Herzog is a brilliant and masterful director. The way he put together the story of Tim Treadwell and his life with grizzly's defies the constructs of formulaic "nature" doc's. It goes deep, as we are allowed to dive into the mind and psyche's of both Treadwell and Herzog as Treadwell's fated story is revealed to us through bits of the 100 hours of footage Treadwell left behind, new interviews, insights, and a brilliant and personal narrative done by Herzog himself.

As Herzog gets to know Treadwell through his footage and loved ones left behind, he is touched, changed, and allows the audience to revel in his new found awe, frustrations, and respect for Treadwell's life.

The film documents the life of "the Girzzly Man" timothy Treadwell through his leftover footage from thirteen summers he lived with, and immersed himself into the grizzly habitat and culture. He felt he was a grizzly, and thus broke boundaries that have been respected among the Alaskan natives concerning these brown beasts. He created what he felt to be a bond, a brotherhood with these majestic animals. But was this conquest purely for scientific reasoning or was he truly terrified of the "human world." That is where Herzog directs this film.

The fascinating thing about Herzog's interviews is what he catches after his participants are done answering his questions, and we see these souls search and ponder for answers to questions they may never know the answer too.

"Grizzly Man" won the Alfred P. Sloan award at this years Sundance film festival, which goes to the film felt to tie in science and discovery into normal narrative paradigm. This film deserved it's praise and was thusly purchased for theatrical release by Lions Gate before it's release on television through Discovery films.

When you get the chance, don't just run to your local theater or television to view this masterpiece, leap and sprint. This is an important and beautiful piece, one that will touch and move all those who allow it to. This is the best of the fest in my opinion, and maybe even of the year, and it is only January.
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This movie is something else...
Potty-Man29 August 2005
This is the first Werner Herzog movie I've seen. I don't really know how to review a movie like that, since I feel I can't judge it by the usual standards. Some parts of it were really sad and moving. Others sent chills up my spine. One scene specifically (about Timothy's watch) was really contrived. But my favorite thing about the movie I think was how Herzog usually left the camera rolling for a few seconds after the interviewees finished what they had to say, just to capture those moments of silence and (sometimes) awkwardness, which felt really authentic. I think Herzog saw a lot of himself in Timothy's tortured soul. Also, one of the most breathtaking scenes in the movie is where Timothy captures an intense fight between two bears.
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A dangerous passion
jotix1007 September 2005
If there was anyone at all to take this story to the screen, Werner Herzog, the distinguished German director, would have been our first choice. Mr. Herzog, a man who knew madness first hand, as his association to Klaus Kinsky proved, is a man that could make this documentary work in the way it does.

We follow an obsessed man, Tim Treadwell, whose love for the grizzly bears consumed him. Mr. Treadwell's own life, away from that setting, was nothing to speak of, but let him loose in the Alaska wilderness and he became a figure as large, as the bears he loved and cared for so much. Tim's passion for the grizzlies took him to appoint himself as the savior of the animals. This was a man that didn't pay attention to the dangers around him, because as all consumed individuals in search of greatness for achieving something, he lost track of what was real and what wasn't. Tim even gets his girlfriend Amie Huguenard involved in his quest for protecting the bears. At the same time, Mr. Treadwell is seen also with the foxes of the area, who didn't pose the same danger as the great brown bears.

What Mr. Herzog has achieved is to show us the man in the mission he set out for himself, expanding in the material Mr. Treadwell had amassed on his own. The director shows us breathtaking views of Alaska, as probably never has been shown before. The cinematography takes our breath away. The Katmai National Park has never been seen in its glorious splendor before.

"Grizzly Bear", like "The March of the Penguins", currently playing in local cinemas, is a welcome diversion from the typical summer Hollywood fare of films that are big on special effects that don't add anything to our enjoyment because the adhere to the same tired old formula.
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Grizzly Men
wshelley18 February 2006
It would be rather easy and quite comforting to simply label Timothy Treadwell as a delusional crackpot who ultimately received his just deserts. Treadwell's woefully naive idealism coupled with his willful rejection of the most basic realities of his natural surroundings make him a rather wieldy target for even those with terrible aim. Treadwell's inability to anticipate the inevitable consequences of his actions has been interpreted by many to signify the man's complete separation from any resemblance of realism and sensibility, thus marking his extensive efforts as purely frivolous and futile. But by merely dismissing the man's Utopian vision of a harmonious existence between humankind and nature, we're ultimately doing a great disservice to ourselves as well. Werner Herzog, one of the cinematic world's preeminent cynical jackasses, was able to both understand and empathize with Treadwell's contorted optimism, refusing to conveniently sticker Tim as some sort of brain damaged, new-age spiritualist. Herzog discovered inside of Treadwell's madness an alluringly gullible romanticism that carefully shielded a secluded demonic realism. Treadwell's refusal to succumb to the demands of our world's primitive natural order clearly fascinated Herzog just as much as Tim's secretively smoldering fixation with the indigenous inhumanity of the unforgiving material world.

Herzog ingeniously incorporates Treadwell's tangential metaphysical ruminations into the movie in order to communicate his own conflicting philosophical perspectives while also conveying a semblance of sympathy and familiarity, if not outright accordance as well. Herzog immediately empathizes with Treadwell's desire to search for some higher meaning beyond the discernible limits of both sanity and security, but does not fail to readily concede the enigmatic stupidity of Timothy's misguided enthusiasm as well. In many respects, the movie explores many similarities between Treadwell's adventurous pursuits and Herzog's well-documented desire to impose his own will on the natural world. For all of Herzog's pontificating on nature's unmistakable indifference, such confessed naturalism has never stopped the man from attempting to conquer these impartial forces through sheer fierce determination. Similarly for Treadwell, even the unequivocal evidence suggesting the inapplicability of his philosophical disposition (the murder of a baby fox, the infanticide of a baby cub, instances of cannibalism during an extended drought) is not enough to dissuade him from the attractiveness of his hallucinatory insistence on the beauty and simplicity of the natural wilderness. While Herzog mocks and scolds Treadwell for his blatant ignorance with regards to the childlike Quixotism of his pilgrimage, he also seems to secretly admire him for his refusal to conform to others' expectations, even when all the impulses of the universe seem to be conspiring against him. Like Aguirre and Fitzcarraldo, Herzog is able to extract carefully hidden noble qualities buried within a man of very questionable character.

In many respects, Timothy Treadwell's quest for natural harmony was an unattainable search for spiritual absolution as well as social vindication. Herzog shows great respect for Treadwell's intense desire to discover a sense of place and purpose within a higher immaterial order, while similarly displaying affection for Timothy's corporeal drive to convincingly demonstrate both his superiority and masculinity to all of those who had expressed doubts and engaged in interference. Herzog has always reserved his greatest admiration for those great historical figures who have unleashed their greatest ambitions upon the natural world around them, and Treadwell is clearly no exception. But this is not because of some juvenile fascination with conquest and subjugation; Herzog's veneration has always been directed towards the instinctual human passion to satisfy one's greatest aspirations, forces of the uncaring universe be damned. Treadwell's absurd eagerness to prove the feasibility of his ideological utopia is sufficient enough to earn Herzog's qualified approbation, but it is not practical enough to stave off Herzog's equally powerful adherence to rational skepticism. Just as Herzog ultimately recognized the folly of Aguirre's ways, Timothy Treadwell is similarly depicted as a man who has become so lost within his untamed search for grandeur that he has forgotten the very purpose of his once innocent expedition.

Many people have taken issue with this back and forth dialogue between Herzog and Treadwell, bemoaning the use of voice-over narration as manipulative, theatrical and unnecessary. Many people have accused the movie of being quite staged and overtly fictional, while needlessly abandoning the most basic purpose of Treadwell's adventure in order to posit some hackneyed, sophomoric philosophical dichotomy that was completely beyond Timothy's intentions and perhaps comprehension as well. But without Herzog's added abstract speculations, Treadwell's undertakings lose a great deal of larger significance and withstanding permanence. Without Herzog interjecting his own balanced suppositions, we're unable to see just how Treadwell's acts of defiance are not only acts of pure lunacy, but acts of poignant proclivity as well. It would indeed be easy to categorize Treadwell's activities as little more than the product of years of alcohol and drug abuse coupled with prolonged bouts of frustration and isolation, but it is infinitely more difficult to recognize his actions as a manifestation of a much deeper, exclusively human predilection to create meaning in one's life by imposing order upon one's natural surroundings. Werner Herzog's (and it is Werner Herzog's) Grizzly Man is not only a fervent rebuke of the unfeasible insanity of Timothy Treadwell's hopeless optimism, but also a tempered celebration of humanity's imperishable stubbornness, arrogance, and inspiring audacity.
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Man vs Bear vs Nature vs Man
MacAindrais31 December 2005
Grizzly Man: ****

Werner Herzog has once again given us one more reason to claim him as a genius. 'Grizzly Man' is a fantastic documentary, one of the best I've ever seen, and it certainly stands aside from the rest. It's a film you'll see; may or may not get; may or may not like; but you will never forget what you've just seen. Timothy Treadwell, is in a way, a distant (or maybe close) extension of Herzog himself, or perhaps his long time friend/fiend- Klaus Kinski. Herzog even gives us a connection when commenting on Treadwell's rage filled rants to the heavens over rain, comparing it to his experiences on film sets with angered actors - clearly Kinski. Herzog never really takes a side with Treadwell. He sometimes agrees with him, and sometimes disagrees. We're presented mostly with Treadwell's films with voice overs, or just Timothy talking. In a way, perhaps you can say Herzog is siding with Treadwell by being the medium through which Timothy's films and thoughts are now being presented to the world. And, in a way, this documentary is about films. Herzog has spent months living in isolated jungles to make his films and claims that he would rather die than not finish filming. You can see the connection between the two here, and its no wonder Herzog was so interested in Treadwell. We all know that Treadwell is gone, and before seeing this documentary you knew this and felt little over the death. But after watching this, I felt very sad, yet was happy at the same time. Treadwell was, by his own admission, very troubled. Was he crazy? It is not mine, your's, or Herzog's place to make this assumption, and thus he doesn't. We are all in some ways eccentric, and its possible that Treadwell was simply brave enough, or desperate enough, to act on these inner thoughts. And though he comes across as a simple fellow, as the documentary goes on you see that he wasn't so. He makes strange decisions that leave you wondering 'why?'. I'm sure anyone who sees this with an open mind, not having already condemned or praised Treadwell, will come out asking yourself many questions. The score of the film, which you can watch a documentary on the making of on the DVD, is wonderful, as is every soundtrack to a Herzog film. It's never background music, it always plays a part and it works wonderfully. The final scene, lead off by Don Edwards 'Coyotes' will leaving you smiling as you watch Treadwell walk upstream with two grizzly bears by his side. No matter what you feel for Treadwell, this is a beautiful, touching, fascinating and crushing experience. Anyone and everyone should feel some connection here. This is very much a reflection on society and its pariahs, and in a way, we all have a little bit of Treadwell in us. In short, this is far and away the best documentary of the year, and thats saying something as there are quite a few good ones out there. If this does not win the Oscar, then something is clearly wrong with the Acadamy. Herzog is one of the most talented and interesting filmmakers on the planet and its about time he got his due. 10/10
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Grizzly, but also funny
Ricky Roma20 August 2006
There's no doubt that Timothy Treadwell was insane. Just look at the facts; here was a guy who lived (unarmed) with bears, who referred to himself in the third person (always a sure sign of insanity) and who had a loon for a best friend. But entirely because of that, his story is a fascinating one.

At first, what's so amazing about Treadwell is how camp he is. He has a squeaky little voice, a peculiar obsession with his wispy hair and he's always cooing, "I love you" to his animal 'friends'. It seems remarkable that such a person would survive so long in the wilderness. But fortunately for Treadwell, he's both tough and completely insane. Therefore he has the blind confidence of the deluded – he never really thinks about what he's doing.

Treadwell's lack of real insight is summed up in his life's purpose – he wants to protect the bears. But the forces that he's protecting the bears from are amorphous (poachers and the Park Service). They're never really there. And it's telling that when some strangers finally do turn up, Treadwell can only hide in the bushes and film from afar as the men throw rocks at the bears – he doesn't do much protecting.

But as Treadwell admits, it's more about the bears protecting him. Which, I guess, is ridiculous (and it is), but it's also true. As the film shows us, Treadwell was in all kinds of trouble before he went bear crazy. He lost his scholarship, became a drunk and got involved with criminal elements. Had he kept steering that course, he probably would have wound up getting killed. And although it's darkly comic that his new obsession finally did bring about his death, it did at least provide him with a momentary release.

The film that Treadwell shot is both amusing and sad. It's amusing because Treadwell is such a strange figure, declaring himself a 'kind warrior' and touching bear faeces with an almost orgasmic excitement. But it's sad because Treadwell is so out of touch with reality. For example, he gives all the bears cute little names like 'Mr Chocolate' and 'Rowdy' – he even calls a particularly nasty bear 'The Grinch'. All the time he's trying to humanise them. He desperately wants to be their friend. And although at times Treadwell seems to understand that they're killers, it never truly sinks in that they could kill him. "I will not die at their claws and paws," he says.

Another illuminating moment is when one of his fox friends steals his cap. He seems deeply upset; he seems personally affronted. He just doesn't quite grasp the fact that these are wild animals, that they aren't really his pals. But despite this, Treadwell does capture some wonderful moments on film. There's a fantastic bit where he's in his tent playing with the paws of a fox that come poking through from outside. It's here that you can understand why Treadwell has isolated himself from people. It's innocent moments like this that keep him hanging on to the few marbles he has left rattling about in his brain.

But although Treadwell doesn't really understand nature, Herzog does. In his unmistakable German accent he says he sees no kinship in the bear's eyes: "I only see the overwhelming indifference of nature". Everything between Treadwell and the bears is one sided. The love is only his. To them he's just meat. Or as a helicopter pilot says, maybe the bears just thought he was mentally retarded.

And although the film is a wonderful insight into a crazy mind, and although it's poignant and sad, it's also very funny. And it's some of the peripheral characters who provide the biggest laughs. One moment that sticks in my mind is when Herzog is talking to Treadwell's crazy ex-girlfriend. It could and should have been a moving moment, as Herzog is listening to the tape recording of Treadwell's death, but Treadwell's ex is just so bonkers that I couldn't help but guffaw when she broke into some of the weirdest tears I've ever seen – at first it seems like she's laughing. And then you have Herzog, in his gravest tones, telling her that she must never listen to the tape. And she replies, "I know, Werner." No wonder the scene has been parodied.

And then you have the coroner. He really seems to love the fact that he's in front of the camera and decides to ham it up for everyone. And this actually leads me to my one criticism of the film. There are a few sections that are just too staged – the scene with the watch and the bit in the morgue stand out the most. Herzog is obviously trying to give the film more drama, to break away from the restrictions of a documentary, but the people in the film are over the top enough as it is without them acting it up for the camera. The story really doesn't need any spicing up.

But despite that one criticism, Grizzly Man is a wonderful film. It tells the story of a ridiculous man who probably did more harm that good, but at the same time the story is strangely positive. It offers hope to damaged people. It shows that by finding a purpose in life, you can overcome your problems and find some degree of happiness. I guess the trick is to focus your energies on something less dangerous than man-eating bears.
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Post Morteum Documentary
verworn2 April 2005
Warning: Spoilers
{Viewed 04-01-2005 - Whitefish, MT.} This is the story of Tim Treadwell, a man whose work with bears was more about self-gratification that it was of protecting the bears from poachers and the government, as he claims he was doing. Tim photographed and videotaped for 13 seasons in the wilds of Alaska and then took his films on the road and showed schoolchildren across the country a world that most will never see.

Tim was born in Fla. to a stable family, was a B student in school, excelled on the swim team, went to college on a swimming scholarship and eventually dropped out due to the drinking problem he developed in college. Tim ended up going to Hollywood where he unsuccessfully tried to land roles (Coming in 2nd to Woody Harrelson for the bartenders' role in "Cheers") which further increased his chemical dependency. Tim then decides to go to Katmai National Park in Alaska to be with the Alaskan Brown Bears (which he continually calls "Grizzly" bears) need his protection (albeit they are on a federally protected bear refuge) and that in order to do it properly, he must not be "screwed up" and we assume stopped drinking.

Undoubtedly, Treadwell in his 13 seasons in Alaska took some of the most breathtaking media of the Alaskan wild ever witnessed. His interaction with the wild foxes is something that must be witnessed and the extreme close-up's of the Brown Bears are unlike anything you have ever seen. But having no sort of wildlife background, he ignores signs that the bears are not always happy with is presence. He openly disregarded laws about not moving his camp one mile once a week and getting within 100 yards of the bears. As the movie goes on, it shows a more and more anti-societal, anti-government Treadwell go on a blue-streaked tirade about the Natl. Park Service and that it is actually HIM that is responsible for saving these bears. He brags himself up that he is camping in the most dangerous place in the world and it is only him who is capable of doing such feats as others would be eaten dead! His girlfriend Amie Huguenard, is shown on film a total of three times for a total of less than one minute of the over 100 hours of footage that Treadwell filmed. One point shows Treadwell getting of his charter plane and saying to someone to get out of the shot because people are supposed to think that he is the only one up there.

It is revealed later on that Tim Treadwell started to tell people he was from Australia and tried to even pass of the accent. Think about it, A big, strong, sandy-haired well built man trying to be with one with ferocious carnivores; Didn't Steve Irwin already apply for and get that job back in 1992 when his 1st documentary was seen? The difference is Steve was born into a family that had the background and education needed to be taken seriously.

On a side note, the man they had who was the medical examiner, seemed far too staged and cheesy acting to be a real medical examiner. If he is the real thing, I think it is time for him to find another line of work. Maybe it is because I have personal experience in this field, but not one of the morticians or M.E.'s that I know behave like that. I felt it cheapened what was fairly consistent set of interviews with families and friends.

We never do get to hear any of the last audio moments of Tim and Amie as they were attacked. Maybe it would make the next Tim Treadwell in attendance at a "Grizzly Man" viewing stop and think twice before dragging his girlfriend off into the woods to both be killed and eaten. There is nothing wrong with following your dreams, just make sure you are awake when you do it and firm grip of the reality that can befall you when you forget that these are called WILD animals for a reason.

6 out of 10 Stars for one-of-a-kind content that cost two people their lives.
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Nature versus Civilisation ?
Chirpy_Chaffinch17 February 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Werner Herzog is famous for portraying surreal characters. In this movie he tells the story of Timothy Treadwell who spent every summer with bears in Alaska for 13 years until he was killed by one of them. Treadwell recorded 100 hours of his journeys with the bears on MiniDV. Herzog narrates the pictures in his usual gloomy way (and his German accent) and he also criticises Treadwell occasionally for his apparent views that nature is in harmony. For example, when Treadwell discovers the remains of a "Baby-Bear" that was eaten by an " Adult-Bear", he cries and Herzog then mentions that nature can be harsh and brutal. Personally, I don't think that Treadwell lost his mind towards the end of the footage, since the video sequences give almost no clue to their chronology. Treadwell talked at length about his past, his troubled childhood, drug and alcohol problems and lack of sexual relationships. He then argued that spending half of the year in a remote location made him happy. That he is disenchanted from civilisation also becomes apparent at one of the later sequences where he violently rages about the Park Authority and other members of society.

There is strong sense in this documentary that Treadwell felt let down by society and tried to escape to (or from) reality. In my opinion, he achieved that by spending 13 years in close contact with the bears only to be killed by a "newcomer" bear. There also is some truth in that society is in itself brutal and harsh and continuously lets people down. This movie isn't funny and the fact that many members of the watching audience were laughing at various sequences suggests that we have a lot to learn to respect the natural world.

I think this documentary proves that human society has nothing to do with nature and that, ultimately, we are totally disengaged from the real world by being absorbed with our own little lives. At least, Treadwell has shown to me that I am not the only one in this world who believes that Humans are not the most important things on earth.
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This is a unique film in so many ways.
fineprint10 February 2006
This film isn't about bears although there is some stunning footage of them and the Alaska wilderness. It's not a nature film at all, unless we include human nature.

It is a slow, often painful, reveal of one man's self-vision told through his own words and actions, augmented by the personal observations of friends, family and the director himself. Sometimes funny, sometimes chilling, sometimes annoying - you stare at the screen like a dog watching a snake.

The film stays with you and intrudes on your thoughts. Where is the line between courage and impetuousness? Was Timothy Treadwell a visionary or a delusional, damaged man - or both? Grizzly Man sets the evidence before us in an almost lyrical way at times and in a clinical way at others. The answers are elusive.

Unlike any documentary I've ever seen.
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Well done, but a sad story.
thousandisland6 February 2006
This film proves what little we already know about wildlife: 99% of the time, it will leave you alone as long as you don't harass it, but the 1% is a differential that ends with you screaming and some guy finding your arm later.

It also proves that we know even less about human nature than we do about bears, as Tim Treadwell is a mystery even to his own species.

It's obvious that he has some kind of disorder or drug-related brain damage, what with his extreme lability of mood, delusions of identity, neurotic and repetitive speech patterns, and general paranoia about the activities of his fellow humans. He knows a lot of interesting people, from his geeky friends who state the mundane as though it is profound ("I don't think he had a death wish at all." "I don't think anyone really deserves to be eaten alive by a bear."), to the Friend/Actor who is not even believable when portraying himself, to his very ordinary parents who are just as confused by him as we are.

In this film, we learn that Treadwell switches addictions from alcohol to bears, and descends into functional madness while attempting to integrate himself into their "secret, inner world." He is paradoxical throughout, both disliking humans and yearning for a love relationship, being fully aware of the dangers that the bears pose, but doing nothing to protect himself from them. (Well, he is fatalistic in his devotion to them, but seems to think that they will not harm him as long as he behaves properly around them. That an older, aggressive bear could become hunger-crazed enough to attack him indiscriminately seems beyond his scope.) At times he shows a thorough understanding of animal behavior and the natural world, at other times a grand ignorance of the reality of life in the wilderness. He seems forever stymied trying to enforce human concepts like justice and righteousness upon the jungle. His sentimentality with the bears and perceived relationships there show in stark relief when the animals display constant indifference or even aggression, and when it is clear that some near-altercation with them has occurred off-camera.

In the end, he is really no more successful with bears than he is with people, understanding the basic rules but never seeing the whole picture in clarity enough to know how to avoid crashing and burning.

Perhaps most indicative of his dysfunction is how he responds to the fond relationship he develops with the foxes, who actively play with him and seek his company and interaction. While he loves them, they are but a footnote on his path to destruction; he prefers the ambiguous and imagined affection from the dangerous bears, to the foxes' genuine displays of it.

"Grizzly Man" is not about a man at all; it is a sad, true story about a wayward being without a species.

On this journey, the audience meets a lot of bears that look alike but who we know were distinct to Treadwell, a creepy coroner who is probably not acting, and a slew of observers who all have their own biased and often badly distorted views of "what really happened." In the creamy middle is the quirky pilot who knew Treadwell best, and the director himself, the voice of reason in this well-crafted work.

The moral: Van Halen was right. "It's business as usual in the woods." Animals make sense; it's people that don't.
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A tragic story of a self centered individual
fvww2 April 2005
Warning: Spoilers
As a person, who spends hundreds of hours each year, educating people, especially students on the proper manner in which to act around wildlife, I find this true-life story to be disturbing and most of all will set the educational wildlife industry back many years.

Mr. Treadwell, was not an amateur wildlife expert, but a self centered anti social person, who found an imagined cause to add meaning to his life, he has no training with wildlife, and most certainly not with the Alaskan brown bear.

He shows his 'thumbing his nose' attitude at the Park Service, the Law and most of all the rest of the respectful wildlife and nature lovers in the world. His reckless attitude eventually led to the demise of two Alaskan brown bears, and another human being.

His close relationship with wild foxes, led the very young girl in the row in front of me to believe this was a cool and neat thing to do, and I have to wondering with this film and the next projects which show Mr. Treadwell doing these illegal activities, how many young children will think it is okay, which will lead to the unneeded destruction of wildlife, as well as the associated injuries that will occur to other humans.

In not once instance in this film, did I ever observe his actions as being protective of the bears, as they are not endangered, they are not hunted and there has been no documented case of illegal hunting of these bears in the last 28 years, in fact the bears in this film, are quite conditioned to the human beings that visit them every year to observe and take pictures of them. The bear that eventually caused the demise of Tim, was not part of the community that he says he lived with, but an interior bear, which has a different makeup, then the coastal bears who are quite familiar and tolerant of humans.

Mr. Herzog's narration and showcase of Mr. Treadwell, works in the fact that is shows an individual, who for some macabre reason, had a wish to destroy himself and his companion, as well as the bears, he professed to love so much, his love was to elevate his standing as a self made star, his arrogance to the wild creatures of Alaska was quite transparent, and as stated will have to be undone, by the educational community.

I don't feel his interviews with the associated parties of this story show anything more than individuals who knew of Timothy's destructive nature and how they are more than happy to make a buck off of this tragic story, I saw very little emotion from any of his friends or family, which I am sure is not the whole truth, but all individuals interviewed in the making of this film, seemed to be quite aware, that Tim was on a self centered destructive course, which had a predetermined outcome, that was set in place many years ago The M.E. at best was star struck, and the Native American curator, was disgusted with the actions of Tim.

In closing, if we use this film to actually educate the public, by showing all the wrongs Tim practiced, then perhaps, the loss of life and wildlife, will have some meaning, this is not an action thrill adventure, but a very important story on how not to act in the wilds of America and the world!
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Disturbing tale of a man with no concept of Nature.
chucksnow53 February 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I have watched this film with my Psychology major girlfriend four times. She claims Treadwell was a man with a deeply repressed sense of his own self, that he could not accept the reality of what he was, so that knocked the freight train of reality off its tracks. "If he isn't really who he is, then bears aren't really what they are." she says. "Think about it, a really effeminate man looking desperately to be loved by 'bears'"

I don't really know about psychology, but in the film Treadwell often rambles on and on in the middle of the wilderness, surrounded by Grizzlies, about how he's "so not gay" and how much he loves "human women." A little too much protest?

I Knew early on in the film Treadwell was a man who was going to die by Nature. It seemed as if he was completely out of touch with reality at times. His "Nature" video recordings included his constant efforts to cover up his receding hairline.

He named ferocious 1000 pound wild animals "Mr. Chocolate" and "Freckles" and "Tabitha" and "Downy" and actually tried to act like them.

He chased grizzlies around yelling "I love you! I love you! I love you! I love you!...""I'm not mad!" (Like a grizzly could give a dang.)

He claimed poachers were rampant, and though I don't doubt they are, he never provided any evidence of it on hundreds of hours of film. Though he did take the time and trouble to capture film of himself asking "How's the hair look?"

He claimed (as he squatted in a National Park) that he was "the ONLY protection" the bears had without ever describing exactly the protection he was (exclusively) providing.

He railed violently with unrestrained vitriol against the very park service that gave him maps, warnings, water, weather reports, checked on his safety and allowed him to squat when and where he did.

It was all about the bears he claimed, even as he yelled "Timothy Conquered!" as he stared directly into the camera and almost continually wiped the hair away from his eyes in an effeminate way. "But alas! Timothy is not gay!"

So concerned about Nature was he that he chased a fox that stole his hat for hundreds of yards yelling "That hat is so important for this trip!" and "If I don't get that hat I'm dead!" He conditioned foxes to the presence of humans to such an extent that they lost their natural fear of Man and began stealing his fashion accessories... This serves nature how?

He was someone who cried about the natural death of a bear cub subsequently eaten by other bears. Yet he made no mention of the tons of Salmon eaten by the bears every year, or the deaths of any of the other animals that occur in the wild

He was not a naturist, not an ecologist, not a scientist. He slept in a tent surrounded by grizzlies as a grown man, an adult… with a teddy bear. Let that sink in.

He was someone who never understood that nature is neither for nor against anything, no matter how valiant or well meaning that 'thing' is. Nature just IS. Treadwell couldn't contemplate that life feeds on life. Every living thing is a potential food source for another living thing.

If you watch this film and ignore him, it's a beautifully shot film about nature. If you watch it and look at him, it's a film about a deeply troubled man completely out of touch with reality who thought he could bend nature to his own naive, immature, ignorant ideal who eventually gets eaten by bears, the sound of which is recorded by a camera with its lens cap still on… Sad really, here's a man so vain he recorded every tiny mediocre thing he did in the wilderness, who claimed not to care if he gets eaten by bears ("Its how I want to go") and after years of tempting fate, when it happens …the lens cap is still on… Ouch.

Werner Herzog's film is so unassuming, so apolitical, and so un-judgmental, that we are left to draw our own conclusions.

Werner Herzog handles the film in an even-handed professional way, and to his credit does not include any of the sounds of Treadwell's (or his Girlfriend's) death. If we find Treadwell a psychotic victim of his own deluded behavior, we don't want to hear it. If we think him a hero, we don't need to hear it…
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An intriguing, but ultimately incomplete look at a total mallet-head
erikgloor9 January 2006
Warning: Spoilers
What would you say about a man who feels compelled to videotape and live in close quarters with wild grizzly bears for seasons at a time without a firearm to protect himself? You might expect he is doing so as part of a government or university-sponsored longitudinal study in the habits of these majestic and fearsome animals.

But that's not what Timothy Treadwell was doing.

In 'Grizzly Man,' a Werner Herzog documentary of Treadwell's exploits, we encounter not so much a learned man of science and his discoveries as we do a complete fruitcake with a death wish.

Comprised entirely of Treadwell's extensive footage along with separate, after-the-fact interviews, sewn together with Herzog's ponderous voice-over narration, this film achieves a near 'This is Spinal Tap,' level of unintended absurdity. But instead of inviting us to ponder the merits of an amplifier with an extra-high setting ( this amp goes to e-leven), the comically effeminate Treadwell increasingly attributes human motivations to wild animals that would just as soon eat his face.

After a sequence in which he has taped two gorgeously majestic grizzly bears dueling like mother nature's own fur-bearing titans, Treadwell seems just a little giddy afterwards about the fact that in the course of battle one of the animals had, as Treadwell put it, "made a B.M." Evidence of his dementia mounts as we see him affectionately handling grizzly excrement, scolding foxes like children, sleeping with stuffed animals, and routinely putting himself in the path of hungry bears.

Hey, Tim, I don't know if you've heard this or not, but "BEARS EAT PEOPLE!"

Aside from occasionally beautiful video of wild bears up close and what might be considered useful information on standing one's ground when confronted with a grizzly in the wild, Treadwell's contribution seems to have given way to naked self-aggrandizement. This less-than-noble goal comes into stark relief when his parents speak of the downward spiral his spirits took after having, allegedly, lost a chance to play a role on the TV show, 'Cheers.' A lifelong animal-lover, Treadwell then appears to have restyled himself as America's Steve Irwin -- the famously daring Australian crocodile enthusiast. Treadwell is even alleged in the film to have tried changing his name and adopting an Australian accent for a time.

Without really covering his business dealings, one might expect Treadwell was attempting, variously, over the course of his undertakings in Alaska, to sell his persona and adventures as documented on videotape, but wasn't having much luck. His would-be customers probably came to the same conclusion we do. That a TV show about wild bears and the hockey puck who thinks he should live in their midst would be a lot better if it starred a genuine naturalist with ANY kind of credentials who didn't behave like a flaming homosexual.

In one rather revealing sequence, Treadwell waxes wistfully on the benefits of a gay lifestyle, but jars it up afterwards like a bad liar protesting too much. Indeed, if one wanted to play amateur psychologist, one would probably quickly come to the conclusion -- especially after we meet his no-nonsense, Eisenhower-era parents -- that Treadwell was in full-blown denial about his sexual identity and that he had probably decided to come out after he was rich and famous a la Ellen Degeneres.

But after 13 years, the film shows us, Treadwell's work was going largely unnoticed. The inference one is invited to make is that he was starting to realize that the only way he'd ever gain any notoriety would be if he were killed by these bears.

And of course, ultimately, this is exactly what happens. He and his girlfriend are mauled to death and devoured by a bear I'm convinced Treadwell knew was a danger to them both. An audio record of the attack exists but is not played in the film.

What would cause someone to walk out into the woods and basically beg to be gobbled up by wild bears? Inasmuch as this film poses and then answers that question, it is intriguing and definitely worth watching. But it fails to fully explore what could have truly motivated Treadwell and lets him get compared to Thoreau and other great naturalists who didn't view nature as some sort of foil for their own personal problems. Treadwell was a nature enthusiast, certainly beloved by a number of kindred misfit souls, but what comes across in Herzog's outtakes is someone who is clearly disturbed and in need of some therapy. To the degree it buys into Treadwell's cover story -- he's just fighting for those misunderstood bears -- the film fails utterly.

Treadwell was, finally, a tragically pathetic figure so starved for recognition he was willing to endanger his own life, the lives of others in his community ( habituating bears to the company of humans, not to mention giving them a taste for people ), and the life of his faithful partner. To the degree the film helps us reserve our pity for those he hurt, the film is a stunning success.

The worst thing you can say about 'Grizzly Man' is that it does for Timothy Treadwell just what his death by digestion intended: makes him famous.

This movie review by Erik Gloor
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