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Grizzly Man

Director: Werner Herzog

U.S.A. • 2005 • COLOUR • DOLBY DIGITAL STEREO • 103 MIN


IN AGUIRRE, THE WRATH OF GOD AND FITZCARRALDO, WERNER HERZOG CREATED MEMORABLE OBSESSIVES UNBOWED BY THE CHALLENGES OF NATURE. THIS MESMERISING DOCUMENTARY OFFERS A REAL-LIFE PORTRAIT TO STAND ALONGSIDE THEM, IN THE STORY OF IDEALISTIC ENVIRONMENTALIST TIMOTHY TREADWELL, WHO FOUND TO HIS COST THAT LIVING AMONG GRIZZLY BEARS, WAS NO PICNIC.
Access to Treadwell’s video archive allows Herzog to trace the story of a failed actor with substance issues, who reinvented himself as the self-styled protector of the bears in an Alaskan national park, spending summers alone in the landscape with his camera, seemingly certain in his belief that he was forming a mutual bond with the animals.
Unfortunately for him, the hungry grizzly who eventually polished him off for breakfast didn’t quite see it that way. Herzog rounds out his best film in years by interviewing friends, family, and the rescue services involved in retrieving what was left of Treadwell, none of whom are totally surprised by what happened. There’s a strong undercurrent of tragic black-comedy in the contrast between these grim details and footage of Treadwell cooing over a cute baby fox or giving the grizzlies names (‘Hi there, Mr Chocolate’), while his direct-to-camera confessionals indicate a troubled soul behind the everpeppy face he showed to the world. The wildlife shots of the bears in their natural habitat are frankly amazing, but we eventually realise they were captured by someone mad enough to believe he could cross the proper boundaries between man and savage beast.

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