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greenhorg's avatar


Not to give away the ending but spoiler
10 years 8 months ago
Timec's avatar


Eddyspeeder - I think if you listen to Herzog's own narration and most of the interviews, you'll find that Herzog was NOT trying to justify Treadwell's behavior.

Herzog has always been fascinated by people who go to extremes in pursuit of a dream (and he himself has often gone to extremes for his art) - but, even as he gives these people the human respect of portraying their experiences on film, he takes pains to show how those dreams are actually utterly preposterous and misguided, even crazy. That is to say - at no point does Herzog try to show the "logic of reason" of Treadwell's actions or beliefs - and one would have to completely ignore most everything going on in the film to believe otherwise.

Herzog, in his own narration, points out at multiple times that Treadwell's anthropomorphism of the bears is misguided. At one of the most important points in the narration, Herzog tells us how he completely disagrees with Treadwell's assessment of the "basic nature" of the world - Herzog, unlike Treadwell, finds "chaos and murder" to be the most basic forms of nature. He finds Treadwell's attempts to pet the bears and to become "friends" with them utterly misguided - as he realizes that bears do NOT have human emotions, and that they do not become friends with humans. Heck, the very fact that Treadwell is murdered by one of the very bears he is trying to protect is THE central irony of the story - something Herzog is well aware of. Herzog, and most of the audience, are very aware of the fact that Treadwell was toeing a very fine line (remember all that talk about "lines in nature" and "going too far" and all that? That stuff, clearly repeated at multiple points in the film, was kind of important in understanding the meaning of the film, and in showing that Herzog was not supporting the character's actions.)

Furthermore, Herzog takes great pains to show how even Treadwell's plan to "save the bears" is idiotic - as evidenced by the lengthy interview with the park ranger, who informs us that poaching in that part of the world is very rare and that Treadwell was, very likely, fighting windmills (to emphasize this fact, Herzog clearly shows how, in all his 13 summers in the wilderness, Treadwell only encountered a single group who may or may not have been poachers.)

Treadwell is impervious to reason - those facts mean nothing to him. Herzog is well aware of that, and never tries to find "logic and reason" in Treadwell's actions. He does find some beauty in some of the footage, and in Treadwell's sincerity (though even that sincerity is called into question by the fact that he took multiple takes and very much seemed, at least sometimes, to be "performing" and creating an image for the camera.) But, ultimately, the film sees Treadwell's beliefs and actions as naive. So yeah - Treadwell is naive. Herzog is not.

These aren't "subtexts" of the story - they are pretty clearly spelled out for the audience.

It's rather decidedly not a glorification of paranoia and immaturity - it's rather a mature and compassionate, but critical, look at someone who is paranoid and immature. This is one of the most human, and humane, portraits of a misguided individual out there. So yes, it is a reflection of a human soul - one of the deepest reflections, in fact, in all of film. That you don't like what you see there - in the soul of someone who, for all his idiotic beliefs and actions, is still, resolutely "human" (and not just a "creature") - is hardly the fault of the film, or the filmmaker.
11 years 3 months ago
IMayNotBeKloot's avatar


Phenomenal documentary. So respectfully composed. Werner doesn't treat the story as an unusual curiosity, or a conveniently compelling narrative - he treats it as a wonderful character study of a very interesting man. A man plainly confused among his vanity, insecurities and anger, and Werner manages to expose the truth and the beauty of it all.

I clearly loved it. Well done, Werner. Bloody well done.
8 years 11 months ago
Admiral Softy's avatar

Admiral Softy

What vague impression I had of Timothy as a martyr for environmentalism was certainly dispelled by this documentary. He absolutely comes across as naive, obsessive, borderline mentally disabled, and bizarrely hate filled for all his supposed devotion to peace and harmony. Have to respect his passion and his willingness to "fight" for animal protection, though his presence seemed to accomplish little and he paid the price for his disconnect from reality.
10 years 2 months ago
gatekepa's avatar


Wow. This was not what I was expecting. Instead of being a documentary about bears, it was a documentary about a troubled man and the people he touched. Quite excellent.
10 years 7 months ago
ubersum1's avatar


This documentary is a genuine insight into the life of an individual who was enigmatic and troubled, admirable yet misguided. Of course the film is far from neutral but there is value in that - I found Herzog's commentary revealed much about both Treadwell and Herzog.
9 years 5 months ago
Toromash's avatar


An animal lover, a madman or was it all just an act. We will never know for certain.
3 years 2 months ago
daddymus's avatar


Some of the most fascinating parts of this excellent film are the comparisons that Herzog draws between his own filmmaking and that of Treadwell's. As he points out whatever Treadwell's faults he captured some stunning footage in his 13 summers, the like of which will never again be filmed. He does come across as a complete nut though
9 years 7 months ago
iCheckFilms's avatar


Treadwell's escapism (from reality; from the world) couldn't have been shown any better. PERIOD.
10 years 11 months ago
Biki's avatar


How come a man who lives in the wilderness during several months is always clean-shaven ?
8 months 2 weeks ago
catherinefrances's avatar


Wow! Just wow!
10 months 1 week ago
Panunzio's avatar


Werner Herzog's calm narration in contrast with Treadwell's manic energy is the star of the show.

Herzog raises some interesting philosophical questions about the nature of the relationship between man and animals.
1 year 3 months ago
essaywhu's avatar


I feel like Herzog seems to have a great empathy for the friends of Treadwell. I think he shows wisdom here by not trying to include the death audio within the film and tells Treadwell’s friend to destroy the tape. I might be mistaken but a younger filmmaker might have attempted to use the tape for some kind of shock value.
1 year 4 months ago
Mario G's avatar

Mario G

The part when he cries over a dead bumblebee was fucking hilarious.
4 years 5 months ago
kellilee's avatar


Animal Planet did an 8-part series called Grizzly Man Diaries culled from Treadwell's 100+ hours of footage that focused on his relationship with the bears and the foxes with no outside narration. I preferred that series to this documentary because in the series I was able to arrive at my opinion of Treadwell based on nothing other than his own words and images; whereas this documentary takes a particular stance on Treadwell. If you liked Grizzly Man, check out Grizzly Man Diaries.
10 years 10 months ago

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