Grizzly Man - Review
Review by Jack Foley
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: The Grizzly Man Session The Making Of The Films Music Documentary.
FAILED actor turned environmentalist Timothy Treadwell suffered a grisly fate at the hands of wild bears in Alaska’s Katmai National Park and Reserve in 2003 having spent 13 summers living among them. His story is now vividly retold in Werner Herzog’s excellent documentary.
Treadwell was one of life’s originals. He loved the grizzly bears he sought to protect yet repeatedly took unnecessary risks in order to be with them.
Herzog’s film shows footage of the man standing face to face with these great animals, scolding them for getting too close and adoring them at every opportunity.
Yet many of his observations prove prophetic. When he vows to protect these bears ‘with my very last breath’, viewers may sense the irony.
Yet for all of his achievements in recording the bears in their natural environment, Treadwell remains a difficult person to like (possibly because he had such trouble liking himself).
For its part, Herzog’s documentary doesn’t seek to portray him as a hero, but merely to understand what may have driven him to take such risks.
His story unfolds using a mixture of archive footage from Treadwell’s own video tapes and interviews with the people who knew him.
We learn that he narrowly lost out on the opportunity of playing the Woody Harrelson role in Cheers and subsequently tip-toed close to the edge of sanity.
He frequently flouted authority and regularly can be seen ranting against what he viewed to be the Alaskan nature reserve’s restrictive policies.
Yet when dealing with the bears themselves, he displays an almost infantile naivety which Herzog suggests may be the result of him wanting to actually become a grizzly.
Hence, when Treadwell captures footage of a particularly large bear scratching its back against a tree, he then proclaims wildly ‘that’s a big bear, that’s a big bear’ as excitedly as a child might at receiving a special present.
Likewise, he is overjoyed at coming across some fresh grizzly faeces and becomes a little too close for comfort.
Herzog, for his part, doesn’t seek to portray the bears as lovingly as Treadwell, even seeking to debunk some of the environmentalist’s findings.
Where Treadwell saw beauty, Herzog only sees nature at its most primal and views Treadwell’s demise as almost inevitable.
No matter what you may think, Grizzly Man offers an absorbing, funny, tragic and harrowing look at one of life’s true characters.
Seeing it is almost a bear necessity.
Running time: 1hr 43mins