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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 38.55%
Just Average: 2.41%
Pretty Crappy: 8.43%
Sucks: 6.02%

7 reviews, 41 user ratings

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Grizzly Man
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by Dr Nick

"What's Eating Timothy Treadwell?"
5 stars

SCREENED AT THE EDINBURGH INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL 2005: Not many things make me as excited as a new Werner Herzog film and Grizzly Man does not disappoint. A poignant documentary about an unusual man, driven insane by his unhealthy obsession with grizzly bears and lack of faith in the human race.

People familiar with Herzog’s work knows better than to accept the stories in his documentaries as “truth”. His fiction films are hard enough to file under particular genres, but when it comes to his documentaries Herzog himself admits to staging events, scripting scenes and blatantly inventing things. He does this in search for something he calls a “poetic, ecstatic truth. It is mysterious and elusive, and can be reached only through fabrication and imagination and stylization”. Much has been said about whether his films can even be called “documentaries”, but it’s a trivial question. He couldn’t care less about the labelling of his films, so why should we?

Grizzly Man is the story of Timothy Treadwell, a man with a burning passion for nature and especially grizzly bears. Treadwell spent the last thirteen summers of his life living in a tent in Alaska, researching and filming grizzly bears and other animals. Sincerely believing that he is a true friend of the bears and throughout the film talking about them in increasingly disturbing ways, it is a powerful film about a man going gradually insane. He constantly reminds the audience that he “would die for them [the bears]” but that he “will not die at their paws and claws” and it really comes as no surprise when this mixture of arrogance and burning passion finally kills him. Unfortunately, not only do the bears he loves so much kill Treadwell himself. His girlfriend is also eaten alive.

The film is made up of Treadwell’s own extensive footage from his expeditions (he shot 100 hours of footage the last summer alone), as well as interviews conducted by Herzog with Treadwell’s closest friends and some people less fond of him. Whether you like Treadwell himself or not, the film is worth watching for its beautiful images alone. There is a lot of stunning footage of the Alaskan landscape and its wildlife, including some amazing images of Treadwell playing with wild foxes. It’s not all footage of bears and wildlife, however. Often, Treadwell uses the camera as a friend to talk to, or as his diary, in which me makes extremely personal confessions about his love life and thoughts on life in general. He talks about how he wishes he was gay, as gay men have it “so easy”. He also repeatedly talks about being in love with the bears, but confides in the camera that “things are bad for me with the human women, but not so bad I have to hit on bears yet”. It’s a reassuring statement, because sometimes you really start to wonder.

As the final summer comes to an end, Treadwell’s behaviour and “diary entries” become increasingly erratic. It’s quite distressing seeing a person's mental health deteriorating so fast. Just thinking about how his girlfriend must have felt about seeing him like this, and being alone with him in the middle of nowhere, is very disturbing. As a drought hits the Alaskan landscape and the bears are dying of dehydration, Treadwell challenges all major religions in an angry rant: “Let’s have some water, Jesus boy! Let’s have some water, Christ man! Let’s have some water, Allah! Let’s have some water, Hindu floaty thing! Let’s have some fucking water for these animals!”. The Gods listen and it soon starts to rain, furthering Treadwell's belief in himself as the saviour of these animals.

Herzog, as well as most of the people interviewed, have a less than favourable view of Treadwell and his work. Whilst impressed at the man's passion and his obvious talent at interacting with these wild animals, they all agree that he probably did more damage to the bears than any good. Treadwell probably couldn’t have cared less and declares himself the winner in his personal war against the people officially responsible for the bears’ safety. “Animals rule! Timothy conquered! Fuck you, park service!”. It’s the words of a mad man, soon to be betrayed by his best friends. But, as one of Treadwell’s ex-partners says about Treadwell and his girlfriend: “they truly died doing what they lived for”, and I guess in theory that is quite a sweet way of going.

Herzog has done it again. Another moving and stunningly original documentary. Who cares what is fabricated and what’s not? This is some gruesomely great grizzly action. Grrrrr!

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=11232&reviewer=345
originally posted: 08/25/05 16:14:20
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Sundance Film Festival. For more in the 2005 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Seattle Film Festival For more in the 2005 Seattle Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Edinburgh Film Festival. For more in the 2005 Edinburgh Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

6/19/15 jeanne His arrogance and ignorance of WHERE HE WAS got two bears killed. Good job, dumbass. 1 stars
9/19/09 Angry Bear I may have possibly died briefly during this spectacular explosion of laughable dirge. 1 stars
5/10/08 mb Very self-centered. 2 stars
6/09/07 Bob Amateurish, flimsy, wanna-be documentary. Thank God this moron was eaten. 1 stars
1/18/07 MP Bartley The Bear Witch Project. Craaaaazy guy. 4 stars
12/27/06 Bobby Ny Not all that great, expected more Bear scenes 2 stars
10/21/06 Tanya Grays It was odd but interesting, it proves we should not mess with animals 4 stars
10/21/06 Tanya Grays It was odd but interesting, it proves we should not mess with animals 5 stars
8/16/06 Mary Beth it was ok 3 stars
6/02/06 Rowsdower Great character study. 5 stars
6/01/06 San Lamar i highly enjoyed this one 4 stars
5/29/06 Jill Made me hungrier than Super Size Me did. 5 stars
5/08/06 Tiana G it is amaizing!!! 5 stars
2/16/06 tatum Strong and fascinating, and uncomfortable to watch 5 stars
2/14/06 Indrid Cold Unique and interesting, but ultimately pointless. 4 stars
2/14/06 malcolm TT was plumb nuts. awesome doc' with no preplanned agenda. take a lesson michael moore. 4 stars
2/06/06 Ole Man Bourbon Gayer than Carson from Queer Eye for the S. G. Cute film though till the end. 5 stars
2/05/06 WTF Best comedy of 2005. 5 stars
1/16/06 Jared Wilson I can't believe how much I LAUGHED! 4 stars
1/07/06 strider Fascinating flawed Treadwell - had an amazing "connection" with the wildness around him 5 stars
11/21/05 Kurtis J. Beard Herzog = Great Movie. Go see Aguire, the Wrath of God. You won't regret it. 5 stars
10/23/05 Naka YES HE MUST HAVE. Jackass, you don't GET to enjoy this movie. Sucks to be you. 5 stars
9/21/05 Alex Interesting and beautiful. Rather selfish of how he got her killed along with himself. 4 stars
9/16/05 APK A brain fried on drugs 2 stars
9/04/05 JDikner I want my money back! 1 stars
9/03/05 Naka Without question the single greatest documentary I have ever seen. 5 stars
8/30/05 sully "Beyond that,we all enter the food chain,& not always right at the top" Hunter S. Thompson 4 stars
8/29/05 Lisa ridiculous narcissm by both Herzog and Threadmill 4 stars
8/27/05 jenjenmarie what a psycho, pretty entertaining though... 4 stars
8/25/05 Me is this thing for realz? does anyone suspect this guy is faking his own death? 4 stars
8/22/05 Steve A film about an unstable, self promoting guy. Chris Guest appears to have written this. 2 stars
8/22/05 Pam Sloane Another great Herzog contribution-troubling, exhilarating and memorable. 5 stars
8/09/05 kamal nothing 5 stars
8/01/05 Lou Schlegell a voyeuristic work using a very incompetent man as its foil pretending to be a documentary 1 stars
6/09/05 Nikki Hix good perspective 4 stars
1/29/05 Garnet Leib Great 4 stars
1/28/05 buddy garrett aargh! 2 stars
1/28/05 buddy garrett aargh! 2 stars
1/28/05 Naka Neat documentary. 4 stars
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  12-Aug-2005 (R)
  DVD: 26-Dec-2005

  03-Feb-2006 (15)


Directed by
  Werner Herzog

Written by

  Timothy Treadwell
  Amie Huguenard

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