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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 38.55%
Average: 2.41%
Pretty Bad: 8.43%
Total Crap: 6.02%

7 reviews, 41 user ratings

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Grizzly Man
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by Scott Weinberg

"The tragic result of passion superseding simple logic."
4 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2005 SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL: The latest documentary from legendary filmmaker Werner Herzog sheds some light on one Timothy Treadwell, a grizzly bear enthusiast who was killed and devoured by the very creatures he admired so dearly. That Mr. Treadwell was clearly a little bit of a kook does not lessen the tragedy of his death, but perhaps his childish enthusiasm will last as a cautionary tale to those who "love" nature more than they "understand" it.

The bulk of Grizzly Man is comprised of Treadwell's own footage. Often taking off into the Alaskan wilderness to frolic with his massive "friends," Timothy Treadwell clearly had a deep love and devotion for these wonderful mammals. But one clear impression we get from Herzog's take on Tim's life (and death) is that a sincere affection for something is NOT the same thing as a deep and effective comprehension. Numerous times throughout the film we'll hear Tim expounding on how beautiful and perfect these brown bears are, and it's certainly not difficult to agree with that opinion. These are truly majestic beasts that deserve our respect and protection.

But Tim simply took his passions too far. Fully under the mistaken impression that he was "one of the bears," Tim would get waaaaay too close to these dangerous beasts - and it was Treadwell's last mistake that cost him his life...not to mention the life of girlfriend Amie Huguenard.

As one would expect from one of the world's most astute documentarians, Herzog does not make any judgments regarding Treadwell's actions. The director refuses to paint Timothy as an irresponsible goofball or as a misunderstood philanthropist. The cameras do the work here, and it's up to the viewer to decide just how "deserving" Treadwell was of his fate. It's painfully evident that Tim repeatedly tempted fate in reckless fashion, but it's also quite easy to admire Treadwell's sincere affection for these animals. I was left wishing that the guy was just a little more cautious...or a little less arrogant.

In addition to segments of Treadwell's own footage, Herzog introduces us to several of the guy's old friends and family members. Hey, Treadwell even shows up on David Letterman's show...and manages to unwittingly predict his own horrible demise in the process. Grizzly Man does have some morbid appeal, as if it's a true-life version of something Blair Witch-y in nature. But ultimately the movie seems to be about how far a man will go to pursue his passions. Treadwell repeatedly insisted that he will "live and die" alongside his beloved bears.

I only wish the guy had been less insistent about the "dying" part.

The longer that "Grizzly Man" goes on, the clearer it seems that Timothy Treadwell was, indeed, just a few sandwiches shy of a picnic basket. Just about ANY true expert in the ursine department would tell you to stay VERY clear of these wild animals, so it's perhaps easy to say that Tim got what he deserved. And while that may be true (if a little bit cruel), I believe there's still something to be said for the pursuit of true, unfettered passion...regardless of how tragic the results may be.

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originally posted: 01/29/05 08:03:40
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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

6/20/15 jeanne His arrogance and ignorance of WHERE HE WAS got two bears killed. Good job, dumbass. 1 stars
9/20/09 Angry Bear I may have possibly died briefly during this spectacular explosion of laughable dirge. 1 stars
5/11/08 mb Very self-centered. 2 stars
6/10/07 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
12/28/06 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
8/17/06 Mary Beth it was ok 3 stars
6/03/06 Rowsdower Great character study. 5 stars
6/02/06 San Lamar i highly enjoyed this one 4 stars
5/29/06 Jill Made me hungrier than Super Size Me did. 5 stars
5/09/06 Tiana G it is amaizing!!! 5 stars
2/17/06 tatum Strong and fascinating, and uncomfortable to watch 5 stars
2/15/06 Indrid Cold Unique and interesting, but ultimately pointless. 4 stars
2/15/06 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
2/06/06 WTF Best comedy of 2005. 5 stars
1/17/06 Jared Wilson I can't believe how much I LAUGHED! 4 stars
1/08/06 strider Fascinating flawed Treadwell - had an amazing "connection" with the wildness around him 5 stars
11/22/05 Kurtis J. Beard Herzog = Great Movie. Go see Aguire, the Wrath of God. You won't regret it. 5 stars
10/24/05 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
9/04/05 Naka Without question the single greatest documentary I have ever seen. 5 stars
8/31/05 sully "Beyond that,we all enter the food chain,& not always right at the top" Hunter S. Thompson 4 stars
8/30/05 Lisa ridiculous narcissm by both Herzog and Threadmill 4 stars
8/28/05 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
8/23/05 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
1/30/05 Garnet Leib Great 4 stars
1/29/05 buddy garrett aargh! 2 stars
1/29/05 buddy garrett aargh! 2 stars
1/29/05 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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