© Grizzly Man — Werner Herzog / Lions Gate Releasing
2005, 100 minutes
Part nature documentary, part twisted character study of an unstable and possibly insane man who desperately wanted to live amongst the bears he worshipped, Grizzly Man is a masterfully crafted essay on the fallibilities of the human mind, and the fine line between devotion and delusion.
Centered around Timothy Treadwell, a former alcoholic and failed TV actor who spent thirteen summers living among wild grizzlies in Alaska before being decapitated and eaten by one of them in the fall of 2003 (no spoiler, you hear about his fate at the beginning of the documentary), the film is also very much about Herzog himself, which shouldn’t come as a surprise for all those familiar with the German director’s filmography. Constructed with some of the footage shot by Treadwell during his time spent at the Katmai National Park and Preserve in Alaska (clips of him naively at ease when surrounded by the wild animals are definitely arresting), and punctuated with narration from Herzog, the film opposes Treadwell’s sentimentalized view of nature with Herzog’s hardcore nihilism. The director even confesses during the film: “I believe the common denominator of the universe is not harmony, but chaos, hostility, and murder. […] And what haunts me is that in all the faces of all the bears that Treadwell ever filmed, I discover no kinship, no understanding, no mercy. I see only the overwhelming indifference of nature.” Classic Herzog !