Skip to content

Grizzly Man (2005)

February 23, 2010

8/10 Wild Boys

An incredibly candid look into an incredibly fascinating life.

Grizzly Man is a documentary about one Timothy Treadwell who up and decided to spend the last 13 Summers of his life hanging out with a population of grizzly bears in the Alaskan wilderness and capture everything on video before ultimately meeting his death at the hands of the wrong cub.

Yes, this is a true story and, yes, it’s totally crazy.

Going into this, I was skeptical because I didn’t really know what else it could have to say other than “Maybe it’s not such a good idea to go live with bears”, but lucky for me, this ended up being one of the more compelling character studies I’ve seen in a good long while. But that simple premise of guy-thinks-it’s-normal-to-live-with-bears has a real hook to it just on its own and you gotta wonder what the hell he was up to all that time. It’s a bittersweet movie in that, well, the guy dies, but he died doing the one thing in life he would die for and he got to spend freakin’ 13 years doing it before it all went downhill fast.

That’s more than most people who live with humans can say.

What I’m getting at is that this is a life that you’ve never seen before and Timothy Treadwell is the kind of guy that just draws you in. This is one of those “crazy until proven sane” scenarios where it’s easy as pie to read that synopsis and write him off as effing NUTS, but then you see him in front of the camera, you see how he truly cares about these animals, that he’s more at home shacking up next to a bear den than most people are under a roof and you start to think, “Okay, this guy’s crazy, but I’m starting to get it.

Timothy is like a mix between Bear Grylls and Mr. Rogers. This guy has balls the size of a honeydew but talks about his life, his mission and his furry friends like he’s singing you a lullaby. He’s totally eccentric, he draws you in by just being himself and the best part is that you get to see everything that’s going through his head, especially the stuff that probably never would have made it into this movie had he been alive. It’s like having Timothy read you his life story straight out of his diary and considering how lonely it gets when all you’ve got to talk to is bears and foxes, he ends up talking a lot.

It’s also really interesting when he starts to talk about how he used to be an alcoholic, how he tried everything in the book to kick the bottle and the only thing that worked was chillin’ with the bears. Creates this amazing little give and take between Timothy and the company he chooses to keep.

The only issue I had with this movie was director Werner Herzog. Now, I’ve always gotten the impression that Herzog is one of these guys who knows he is hot shit, like molten lava hot, and if you don’t know that by now, then you, sir, are dirt. Instead of taking a back seat and letting Timothy and the people who knew him do the talking, he ends up making himself a main character by narrating his thoughts on everything that’s happening on-screen and even putting himself in front of the camera at times to stage totally fake, melodramatic moments with Timothy’s close friends.

Werner, man. Pipe down. This movie’s not about you. I do not care about your thoughts on Timmy. Please go back to your seat. Thank you.

But even with Werner at the forefront every now and again, it doesn’t prevent Timothy’s story from being anything less than captivating. Grizzly Man definitely adds a degree of credibility and understanding to a passion and a life that probably no one else out there will ever be able grasp first-hand. It’s not trying to make Timothy’s lifestyle seem normal, because, let’s be honest, bears are still terrifying beyond belief, but it sure is something else to watch from a distance.

Grizzly bears, man. Dwight Schrute ain’t kiddin’.

9 Comments leave one →
  1. February 23, 2010 8:13 am

    Sounds like a decent movie. Amazing the way some people’s minds work. His solutions to life’s problems are terrible! Life sucks->drink away his sorrows. Alcoholism sucks->I’ll hang out with some grizzly bears! But he’s in that place where crazy answers seem rational to him. Very interesting.

    • February 23, 2010 10:52 am

      Interesting’s the word. Very cool movie though, highly recommend it.

  2. February 24, 2010 5:43 pm

    It is a great film – I done a review a while ago as it just happened to come on TV and I was hooked – and I’ve seen it before. made me look into other freak deaths. Y’know some guy was killed while being shagged by a horse … or vice versa … and a film was made about it. very weird. Thats what wikipedia does to you.

    • February 24, 2010 5:46 pm

      WHOA! You gotta tell me what this death-by-horse-fucking movie is. That is some crazy shit. Glad you liked this one though, felt the same way. Totally hooks you in.

  3. February 25, 2010 2:58 pm

    It’s called ZOO (2007)… very trippy and not conventionally told. Lots of re-enactments and a brief beastiality money shot from real footage… OUCH. Horse is hung, dude! Grizzly Man is great but the guy is visibly disturbed in his thought processes!

    • February 25, 2010 5:15 pm

      Just watched the trailer. Totally. Insane.

      Yeah, the grizzly man was a little off, but I don’t know, I liked the guy. For how totally bizarre his life choices were, something about him is very admirable. Hard to say what exactly it is, but he must have been doing something right to have even lasted 13 years out there. Crazy stuff.

  4. March 5, 2010 12:13 pm

    I only just read your comment so:

    The Horse man … apparently called “Mr Hands” …

    • March 8, 2010 12:48 pm

      Mr. Hands…creeeeeeepy.

      Zoo, man. I don’t even know what to say.

  5. myrnamynkoff permalink
    December 24, 2010 10:01 am

    Hi Aiden! I just got to your blog idontknowhow and i loved it! I’ve been reading your reviews for like the last hour or so! they’re great, thank you!

    I just saw this film a few days ago, and I didn’t find anyone else that saw it here in Argentina yet so I was waiting to find someone I could talk about it with as it really moved me… so.. that’s the reason of my comment here now 🙂

    First of all I agree with most the things that you say. I felt such and intimacy was created around this character that it felt almost as if i were out there camping with him and having him share all his thoughts and his life with me. i haven’t seen such a beautiful documentary in quite a while.. but then, i think i disagree a little bit with what you said about Herzog’s appearance in the film. I mean maybe I should watch it once more before saying this, or even watch more Herzog’s movies as I haven’t seen much of his work. But for instance, I didn’t feel as if he was the main character of the movie, nor trying to be. Instead of that I felt as maybe if he hadn’t place himself there that maybe some parts of what he was trying to show as reality wouldn’t have been there either. for instance, Timothy’s loneliness. Even his friends’ loneliness. I was almost in shock when i saw him sitting there listening to Timothy’s last tape in front of his best friend, as I was also thinking whether it was a good idea or not to play this tape on the movie, thinking of the perversion, morbosity even, that humans’ can have towards this kind of things, as I in a way I was also a little bit attracted to the idea of maybe hearing that tape, just because it was there. And after thinking all that, seeing this guy there, his expressions while listening, this woman looking at him, crying, and then him saying ‘never listen to this, in fact, destroy it’, I thought it was very honest, and brave. not fake at all. It was almost as a ‘witness’ opinion that he said that i believe. like he was realizing on one hand that it was no longer necessary for that tape to exist as there was going to be a documentary film now that would explain, or bring more sense to Timothy’s death than that last tape, and on the other hand, and most important, as a sympathetic act of telling this woman ‘please don’t bring this harm to yourself, because you might be tempted to do it someday’. Also, as a documentary, I like to see films where you see the documentary maker’s life changing thanks to the simple fact they’re understanding the deep meaning of what they are filming or showing, sometimes it adds a lot to the story to feel there’s an actual human being behind the camera that’s feeling the same things that you feel while watching the film. But here it’s just my good will hoping that Herzog also saw/felt all that 🙂 As I said before, I’ll watch more of his films and I’ll tell you later..

    Anyways thank you one mroe for this post, I love your blog I’ll be visiting it often 🙂

    you have a new friend in argentina now!

Drop that knowledge!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: