Grizzly Man Werner Herzog

Grizzly Man Werner Herzog
German filmmaker Werner Herzog made one of the most remarkable documentaries of 2005 with Grizzly Man — and he did it without shooting most of the film footage himself. Grizzly Man tells the story — ostensibly in his own words but not really — of Timothy Treadwell, a self-proclaimed grizzly protector and expert who was mauled to death (along with his girlfriend) by one of the huge animals in 2003. Through footage shot by Treadwell— who spent most of 13 summers in Alaska living amongst the bears unarmed and alone — we first learn about him as an earnest, well-meaning environmentalist type whose granola-y "back to nature" vibe is equal parts admirable and irritating. Through the years — and hundreds of hours — of footage, we see how Treadwell gained the trust of certain animals, naming them, seeing them season-to-season and getting to know their personalities, habits and stomping grounds. To start, it's fairly straightforward Discovery Channel type stuff. But slowly, Herzog's film evolves into something far deeper and more fascinating: an examination, through his own footage, of Treadwell's mental state, his vision as a filmmaker, his self-invented "persona" and how living amongst (some would argue imitating) bears put the zap on Treadwell's brain. In dissecting and analysing Treadwell's footage, Herzog inserts himself into the film; as a narrator, his commentary on Treadwell's mental state — and most interestingly, on the development of Treadwell's self-made persona — adds a fascinating element. By the end, it's not Treadwell as environmental protector that emerges as the most fascinating element, but Treadwell as character and caricature of a man whose quest for self-invention brought him deep into the wilderness. In the DVD's lone extra, Herzog guides a group of musicians — including British guitarist Richard Thompson and Chicago experimentalist Jim O'Rourke — in creating the film's score; Herzog's demanding approach to the music is but a hint of his approach to filmmaking as well. The end result of the visuals comes almost entirely from Treadwell, but the vision is all Herzog's. (Maple)