Starring: Timothy Treadwell, Amie Huguenard, Werner Herzog, etc…
Director: Werner Herzog
Runtime: 103 Minutes
Plot (taken from IMDb): A devastating and heartrending take on grizzly bear activists Timothy Treadwell and Amie Huguenard, who were killed in October of 2003 while living among grizzlies in Alaska.
Grizzly Man is a sad film, in it we see the last few months of Timothy Treadwell’s life – a man who spent a long time living with wild grizzly bears in Alaska. It’s emotional, well put together and ultimately, like Timothy, unforgettable.
Herzog found in Timothy a man and story that says a lot of things about the human spirit and nature. Throughout we are reminded that this is Herzog’s film, he reminds us in the voiceover that at times he completely differs with the opinions of Timothy. It’s an interesting film that certainly leaves an impression, one that gave me a new insight into documentary filmmaking.
First things first, this is not a professionally shot movie, no, Timothy shot the footage himself (at times it was his girlfriend Amie), but it looks professional, some shots look incredible, and at times Herzog stops the story to show wonderful shots perhaps accidentally shot by Timothy. But more on Timothy, he was a character, clearly devoted to bears, he saw himself as their saviour, going to live with the bears to save them (although the amount he actually did is questionable), but he has such a charisma and presence that the whole film is lifted – perhaps he is the reason Herzog decided to make the film.
Throughout Grizzly Man we grow to love Timothy and his unique ways and attitudes to life, this is helped by interviews with people who knew him; and through getting to know him, we can miss him and be hit hard by his death. Indeed, there is one scene in the film that is distressing, Herzog is sitting, listening to Timothy and Amie’s death (there was no video footage of it), but the camera does not show his face, instead focussing on one of Timothy’s long-time friends – this is one of the most powerful pieces of filmmaking I have ever seen.
Grizzly Man is odd as well, as for a lot of its runtime it is quite light-hearted, despite the serious nature of its subject. It’s strange to see uplifting moments knowing it all ends in tragedy – it’s a filmic experience that should not be missed.
Grizzly Man is masterful documentary making, throughout the film we grow to love the unique character of Timothy Treadwell, knowing that at it all ends in tragedy is heart-breaking but it only serves to make the film more emotionally powerful. It’s interesting to see that the differences in opinion between Timothy and Herzog combine to make a film this powerful, but just remember to have a couple of tissues nearby for the final scenes.
The best documentary I have ever seen, essential cinema.