I am velvety-smoothReview is BELOWI am veltely smooth, too
DVD: Grizzly Man (2005)
Review Rating:   Very Good  
...back to Index

Maple/Lions Gate

Catalog #:
...or start from scratch
1 (NTSC)




Genre: Documentary  

Documentary tracing the last years and tragic death of grizzly bear activist Timothy Treadwell.




Directed by:

Werner Herzog
Screenplay by: Werner Herzog
Music by: Richard Thompson
Produced by: (various)

Werner Herzog, Franc G. Fallico, Amie Huguenard, and Timothy Treadwell.

Film Length: 78 mins Process/Ratio: 1.78:1
Colour Anamorphic DVD: Yes
Languages:  Dolby English 2.0 / French Subtitles
Special Features :  

Music Featurette: "In the Edges: The Grizzly Man Sessions" (50:00) / Theatrical Trailer

Comments :

Like Wim Wenders, German director Werner Herzog has alternated his film output with documentaries, but unlike Wenders, Herzog has produced a more intriguing (and larger) body of work on subjects that are tied to real-life tales of tragic and deeply flawed individuals, some of whom have been victimized by elements beyond their control, or are doomed to follow a magnetic path because of their damaged personas.

Grizzly Man may be Herzog's finest realization, because the pitiful fate of Timothy Treadwell - former athlete, failed actor, recovering alcoholic, and then self-styled nature activist - could have been avoided, but seemed inevitable because of Treadwell's yearly trips to Alaska, daring to summer and videotape the wild carnivores sometimes a few feet away.

The actor in Treadwell mandated the creation of a crusading nature lover - the self-appointed "Kind Warrior" - and he performed the role on two levels: as a touring volunteer to schools bespeaking the virtues of the much-maligned bear; and as a documentarian of inimitable, up close and personal footage of the wild creatures in action. Treadwell didn't stage events or assemble his footage into compact and contrived wild vignettes - he was too devoted to the creatures, and never lived to create any formal program from the hundreds of hours of footage - but his work, dubbed 'annual expeditions', consisted of Treadwell talking to the camera, often seated at varying distances from nearby bears; the footage was generally amateurish, and he treated the bears as pet dogs who supposedly understood his incessant nattering and finger-pointing.

Though he has appeared on talk shows and was interviewed by major networks, Treadwell was treated by the media as a folly-ridden curio - a man with no formal training as an animal biologist, and a guy who seemingly lived with a desire to become a martyr. Herzog's interviews with Treadwell's friends and family provide a needed sense of humanity, and their recollections make it clear how Treadwell had already lived through some bad times, and found great solace in the wilds of Alaska .

In a veiled statement, Herzog sensed the irrational traits of Klaus Kinski in Treadwell's mounting, profane rants, but it's clear Treadwell felt death at the hands of a bear was his only means of redemption; that point is obvious not because he was ultimately eaten by a bear, but from his repeated and increasingly impassioned statements to the camera about his willingness to die in order to shame human society's intrusions, exploitation, and murder of what was becoming his bears, in his territory.

Herzog's documentary pays tribute to Treadwell's spirit, but we too experience the director's emotional confusion from the vicissitudes of this sad story: we laugh at Treadwell chasing foxes, are fearful as he bathes beside a wild grizzly, watch his on-camera address hours before his death, and sense Herzog's physical revulsion when Treadwell's former girlfriend and associate plays back the audio recorded by the capped video camera as Treadwell and his girlfriend are eviscerated and devoured by a bear.

So much of Treadwell's persona radiates from the diary-like video footage, and Herzog constantly challenges our assumption of the man by interweaving footage of Treadwell's childhood, a hammy coroner excitedly tracing the couple's final moments and stages of mortal trauma, school kids recalling a fun Q&A session with Treadwell, and the pilot who found the bear and some of the couple's remains.

Herzog doesn't sully the tragedy by the use of graphic photos or footage - we see the dead bear, but never endure the images or audio Herzog has experienced - but the story of a couple's needless death, arguably attributed to freak events and an inability to recognize an animal's 'bored sense of hunger, is so unforgettable.

The DVD's main extra is an excellent documentary on the recording sessions of the score by guitarist Richard Thompson. It's a candid window into the creation of an improvised score with ace musicians over two days, and follows Herzog as he sets strict parameters on style and instrumentation; the most enjoyable moments are when the director hits a communication hurdle, and his approving smile or thumbs-up when the musicians perform a cue that's true to the rambunctious, spirit of 'the kind warrior.'

The tragedy of two lives could have become an ugly, meaningless shocker, but with a respect and admiration for those closest to the couple, Herzog has crafted a tribute to a horrible event, and a film that resonates long after the movie's over.

© 2005 Mark R. Hasan

_IMDB Entry________Script Online _________Fan/Official Film site________Cast/Crew Link
_IMDB Detailed Entry_______Scripts available online ________Fan/Official Film Site__________Additional Related Sites
____Amazon.com __________Amazon.ca _________Bay Street Video_______Comparisons_
__Amazon.com info____Amazon.com info____Basy Street Video info______Compare Different Region releases_
_Soundtrack CD__________CD Review__________LP Review__________Composer Filmog.
Soundtrack Album_________Soundtrack Review_______Yes, VINYL_________Composer Filmography/Discography at Soundtrack Collector.com

Site designed for 1024 x 768 resolution, using 16M colours, and optimized for MS Explorer 6.0. KQEK Logo and All Original KQEK Art, Interviews, Profiles, and Reviews Copyright © 2001-Present by Mark R. Hasan. All Rights Reserved. Additional Review Content by Contributors 2001-Present used by Permission of Authors. Additional Art Copyrighted by Respective Owners. Reproduction of any Original KQEK Content Requires Written Permission from Copyright Holder and/or Author. Links to non-KQEK sites have been included for your convenience; KQEK is not responsible for their content nor their possible use of any pop-ups, cookies, or information gathering.