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  •  REVIEW: GRIZZLY MAN

    Grizzly Man

    Bear with him

    Werner Herzog's uncomfortable film "Grizzly Man" documents bear-watcher Timothy Treadwell's doomed obsession.

    By DAVID N. BUTTERWORTH
    Offoffoff.com

    The death of a loved one is certainly always tragic, but it's especially tragic when it could so easily have been avoided. Environmentalist, filmmaker, and sometime schoolteacher Timothy Treadwell might have argued that in his particular case tragedy was inevitable. For 13 summers straight Treadwell studied grizzly bears on the Alaskan Peninsula until his untimely — and yes, tragic — death in 2003, savaged and killed by a rogue bear (as was his girlfriend Amie Huguenard on one of the few occasions she accompanied Treadwell to an area known as the Grizzly Maze).

      
    GRIZZLY MAN
    Written and directed by: Werner Herzog.
    Featuring: Timothy Treadwell, Amie Huguenard, Franc G. Fallico.
    Cinematography: Peter Zeitlinger.
    Edited by: Joe Bini.

    Related links: All of David N. Butterworth's reviews at Rotten Tomatoes
    German arthouse director turned documentarian Werner Herzog has taken some 100-plus hours of video footage shot by Treadwell over the last five years and turned it into a two-hour documentary that's often intriguing but feels oddly and sadly senseless, echoing its subject matter's couched irresponsibility.

    If I chose to swim with the sharks I'd most likely get eaten but I wouldn't want Herzog making a movie about it.

    That said, Treadwell might well have enjoyed "Grizzly Man." As evidenced by the footage he shot, he loved being a celebrity, loved the grandiose sense of danger — but mostly loved these bears with which he's often seen interacting, often from less than a few yards away. "It's as if he wanted to become a bear," one observer notes. True indeed: Treadwell eschewed the civilized world and chose instead to live this way, forever blissfully aware that his life could end at any minute: "If I show weakness, I'm dead. They will take me out, they will decapitate me, they will chop me up into bits and pieces."

    Grizzly Man  
    Treadwell's words to camera often position him as a savior of these creatures, a crusader, their sole champion (although it's not altogether clear just how he protected them). There's also a strong sense of schizophrenia at play here: one minute he's all mushy and childlike in expressing his love, love, love for his friends the foxes, the next he's cursing out the National Park Service via vehement expletives for their failures. That Treadwell was also eccentric, nave, delusional, and reckless tends to overshadow the tragedy that was his violent death.

    Through Treadwell's footage we're offered a rare opportunity to witness these majestic animals in their natural habitat... until a blond-haired goofball in a bandana and sunglasses flops into the frame, as if Steve Irwin suddenly began favoring bears over crocodiles and became an activist overnight. "Hi there Mr. Chocolate!" "Hello Rowdy!" "He's a big bear, he's a big bear, he's a very big bear!" he exclaims.

    Herzog, no stranger to examining crackpots on film ("Fitzcarraldo," "Woyzeck," "Aguirre: The Wrath of God"), assembles archive footage alongside interviews with Treadwell's family, friends, and colleagues. Some of the observations are telling; others simply underline the obvious. The director also leaves in outtakes for dramatic effect (causing us to wonder what he might have left out) and narrates in a non-probing monotone that grows wearisome. Herzog also includes uncomfortable footage of a kooky coroner who's so agitated by the opportunity to graphically detail his findings on film that any attempts at sensitivity go by the wayside.

    In the wilderness, there are non-physical barriers that should never be crossed. Timothy Treadwell either chose to ignore them or convinced himself they didn't — or shouldn't — exist. The real tragedy for Amie Huguenard is that Treadwell failed to convince the bears.

    AUGUST 15, 2005
    OFFOFFOFF.COM • THE GUIDE TO ALTERNATIVE NEW YORK


    Reader comments on Grizzly Man:

  • [no subject]   from , Dec 28, 2005
  • Treadwell   from Helen, Jan 4, 2006
  • Re: Treadwell   from , Feb 26, 2006
  • Re: Treadwell   from Emerson V. Craig, Feb 27, 2006
  • Re: Treadwell   from , Jul 27, 2006
  • Re: Treadwell   from kevin, Sep 3, 2006
  • Re: Treadwell   from Berry van Hagen, Mar 4, 2006
  • Re: Treadwell   from stephen smith, Mar 17, 2006
  • grizzly man   from orca, Jan 6, 2006
  • Re: grizzly man   from Mike, Feb 28, 2006
  • Treadwell naive but caring   from willie, Jan 23, 2006
  • Re: Treadwell naive but caring   from jonny-h, Feb 4, 2006
  • Re: Treadwell naive but caring   from Kathy Handyside, Feb 22, 2006
  • Re: Treadwell naive but caring   from , Jul 27, 2006
  • I Was Spared   from Colin, Jan 26, 2006
  • Re: I Was Spared   from hal e., Feb 6, 2006
  • Re: I Was Spared   from Berry van Hagen, Mar 4, 2006
  • Re: I Was Spared   from kevin, Sep 3, 2006
  • Grizzly Games   from F.W. Samms, Feb 4, 2006
  • He was a moron   from jeffrey, Feb 5, 2006
  • Re: He was a moron   from Tryten, Feb 6, 2006
  • Re: He was a moron   from Berry van Hagen, Mar 4, 2006
  • Re: He was a moron   from hihihi, Sep 3, 2006
  • Re: He was a moron   from Jim, Sep 6, 2006
  • Re: He was a moron   from Ed, Feb 6, 2006
  • Re: He was a moron   from Terry, Feb 8, 2006
  • Re: He was a moron   from andrew, Jun 28, 2006
  • Re: He was a moron   from loser you, Feb 17, 2006
  • Re: He was a moron   from Timothy, Feb 27, 2006
  • Re: He was a moron   from ANDREW, Jun 28, 2006
  • Re: He was a moron   from craig, Apr 24, 2008
  • Re: He was a moron   from anyoumos, Feb 17, 2006
  • Re: He was a moron   from , Feb 27, 2006
  • Re: He was a moron   from GlacierCamper, Apr 13, 2006
  • Re: He was a moron   from Timothy, Feb 27, 2006
  • Re: He was a moron   from Phil, Mar 12, 2006
  • This was idiotic   from GlacierCamper, Apr 13, 2006
  • Re: This was idiotic   from bruce, Aug 21, 2006
  • Re: He was a moron   from Eddie, Apr 19, 2006
  • Re: He was a moron   from Irina, Oct 1, 2006
  • Re: He was a moron   from Kim, May 10, 2006
  • Re: He was a moron   from a claire, May 14, 2006
  • Re: He was a moron   from kevin, Sep 6, 2006
  • Re: He was a moron   from Show Case Cabinets, Sep 11, 2006
  • sad   from michael, Feb 6, 2006
  • his love   from Lee, Feb 6, 2006
  • grizzly   from Paulina Jick, Feb 16, 2006
  • Re: grizzly   from Paulina Jick, Feb 17, 2006
  • Re: grizzly   from Berry van Hagen, Mar 4, 2006
  • Re: grizzly   from , Jun 28, 2006
  • inspiring me   from paulina Jick, Feb 17, 2006
  • Re: inspiring me   from Irina, Feb 22, 2006
  • Re: inspiring me   from , Feb 27, 2006
  • Re: inspiring me   from Kathy Handyside, Feb 22, 2006
  • Re: inspiring me   from bruce, Aug 23, 2006
  • Re: grizzly   from bruce, Aug 23, 2006
  • HEY   from Paulina jick, Feb 2, 2008
  • Film makers Comments Says it All   from Dan C, Feb 22, 2006
  • Herzog undecided   from wildfire, Feb 25, 2006
  • Re: Herzog undecided   from a claire, May 14, 2006
  • [no subject]   from annomous, Feb 26, 2006
  • Re: [no subject]   from anonymous, Feb 28, 2006
  • treadwell   from adam, Feb 26, 2006
  • Why did the Bear not eat his head?   from SolusMIB, Feb 26, 2006
  • Re: Why did the Bear not eat his head?   from Berry van Hagen, Mar 4, 2006
  • Re: Why did the Bear not eat his head?   from kevin, Sep 8, 2006
  • What was wrong with Timothy?   from JLThomas, Mar 1, 2006
  • Re: What was wrong with Timothy?   from kevin, Sep 8, 2006
  • Timothy's intentions were good   from Berry van Hagen, Mar 3, 2006
  • This Movie Disturbed Me   from RCR, Mar 4, 2006
  • timy   from jayro, Mar 5, 2006
  • Hypocrisy and Sadness   from Buzz, Mar 5, 2006
  • Re: Hypocrisy and Sadness   from Viv, Mar 6, 2006
  • Re: Hypocrisy and Sadness   from Steve, Jul 27, 2006
  • Re: Hypocrisy and Sadness   from kevin, Sep 8, 2006
  • He had a good success for 13 years!   from Viv, Mar 6, 2006
  • Re: He had a good success for 13 years!   from Zeke, Mar 21, 2006
  • Re: He had a good success for 13 years!   from GlacierCamper, Apr 13, 2006
  • Re: He had a good success for 13 years!   from Kim, May 10, 2006
  • i love bears   from billy mcglone, Mar 25, 2006
  • the hungry bear the stupid human   from the messenger, Mar 25, 2006
  • him and grizzly   from maria, May 10, 2006
  • Re: him and grizzly   from colin, May 11, 2006
  • Re: him and grizzly   from DKB, May 28, 2006
  • YOU are the morons!   from chris, May 28, 2006
  • Re: YOU are the morons!   from Mn.T.Wolf, Jul 27, 2006
  • the wrong colors   from the bears hood, Jun 1, 2006
  • Re: the wrong colors   from dkb, Jun 3, 2006
  • Good Intentions   from Sara David, Jun 14, 2006
  • bear whisperer?   from MAL IN CAL, Jun 17, 2006
  • I LOVE TIMOTHY   from Andrew, Jun 28, 2006
  • Re: I LOVE TIMOTHY   from Dkb, Jul 20, 2006
  • Re: I LOVE TIMOTHY   from flix, Jul 27, 2006
  • Re: I LOVE TIMOTHY   from jeanie Cruz, Aug 17, 2006
  • Re: I LOVE TIMOTHY   from Brokenarrow, Aug 15, 2006
  • Thats what happens   from jake, Aug 17, 2006
  • new light   from kevin, Sep 6, 2006
  • Almost eaten my self !!   from ShowCase Cabinets, Sep 8, 2006
  • A Greatr Man   from Matthew Cabeza, Nov 2, 2006
  • Re: A Great Man   from Jeanne, Feb 15, 2007
  • Butterworth Misses the Point   from WAYNE AYERS, Nov 16, 2006
  • idk   from idk, Feb 5, 2007
  • idk   from idk, Feb 8, 2007
  • dumb ass   from david weaver, Mar 2, 2007
  • Mental Illness   from BearLover, Jan 2, 2008
  • Love those critters   from sid, Dec 27, 2008

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