Grizzly Man (USA; 103 min.)

directed by: Werner Herzog
Grizzly Man
Diane says: "A fine docu, about which I have lots to say. Those who have seen
MARCH OF THE PENGUINS can say how well they work together. Good old Werner Herzog, last seen in INCIDENT AT LOCH NESS, uses that calm voice and strange clipped accent to cast a feeling of foreboding over his search for another monstrous oddity of nature--not grizzlies, but Timothy Treadwell.

"Herzog culls from 100 hours of video taken by Treadwell at his Alaskan camps, where he 'protects' the bears. In voiceover, the German director critiques Treadwell's video direction, compares his own feelings about nature, analyzes Treadwell's intentions, and comments on the subject's psyche. In one segment, Treadwell rages at the camera. Herzog reminisces vaguely about seeing this on another set (evidence: MY BEST FIEND).

"Both Herzog and Treadwell share a kinship of shooting in untamed places (FITZCARRALDO), but for Herzog, the wild brings no comfort. The World for Treadwell is not that of his off-season home in California, but the company of bears. For him, that song at the end of COFFEE AND CIGARETTES: 'Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen...' Herzog is awed by Treadwell's wildlife shots.

"Treadwell calls out to the animals 'I love you, I love you,' thinking it means the same to them as it does to the teddy bear, Tabitha, that he keeps in his tent. Perhaps another influence was THE LITTLE PRINCE, as you will see. I regret that he was not motivated to raise his observation of grizzly behavior to a scientific level. Instead, he points out a bear's ' poop,' saying 'he went to the bathroom' during a fight.

"Herzog inspires an acting manner in a number of his interview subjects, notably the coroner and Jewel Palovak, a spokesperson for Treadwell's nonprofit organization, Grizzly People. The latter I would have cut--she adds nothing but TV tears, but coincidentally is credited as co-executive producer. Hmmm....

"Herzog discreetly handles, even censors, that which is too personal or embarrassing, such as the audiotape of Treadwell's death, his invective toward individuals in the Park Service, and some personal confessions.

"Music is by Richard Thompson, much to my surprise. It is elegant and appropriate. A cello matches the growls of fighting grizzlies.

"There's a little too much back-and-forth at the end of the docu. 4 cats."

Bruce says: "There is plenty of evidence that Werner Herzog is off his rocker. Take for example his 1977 film LA SOUFRIERE where he travels to an evacuated area of Guadeloupe as seismologists predict with a nearly 100% certainty that a volcano is about to erupt. What would make a man risk his life and the lives of others to capture an evacuated village on film? Herzog claims that he is looking for “the ecstatic truth” when he makes a film. Whatever the motivation, the pantheon of contemporary film is indebted to his kind of craziness.

"It is little wonder that Herzog was enthralled by Timothy Treadwell, a failed actor who for twelve years lived, befriended and filmed grizzly bears in Alaska. Treadwell and his girlfriend Amie Huguenard were attacked and eaten by a grizzly in 2003. GRIZZLY MAN is comprised of Treadwell’s own camerawork intermingled with talking heads and aerial footage of the Alaskan wilds. Herzog himself narrates. We learn about Treadwell by seeing his own movies in which he delivers monologues about his love of the bears. While he had many supporters, others felt that Treadwell was an accident waiting to happen. Some argue whether his efforts were beneficial or harmful to his beloved bears.

"Werner Herzog rarely fails to entertain and what makes him a brilliant filmmaker is his ability to simultaneously raise important issues. His eye misses little of visual interest as he documents the territory surrounding his subject. For GRIZZLY MAN great credit must also be given to Treadwell. His videos are beautifully made and much more fascinating than one would imagine.

"Herzog sees the absurdity of his world in both a comic and tragic sense. For me, he is a filmmaker whose stature is elevated with every film of his I see. 4.5 cats"