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Grizzly Man

  • compiled by Jeffrey Overstreet Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2005 1 Jan
Grizzly Man
from Film Forum, 08/18/05

Timothy Treadwell documented more than 100 hours of footage in which he cavorted with grizzly bears in Alaska's Katmai National Park, determined to celebrate these massive animals, educate others about them, and protect them from encroaching dangers. The bears, in the end, failed to respect his efforts. They attacked and ate Treadwell and his girlfriend. Nevertheless, Grizzly Man, the story of his 14 summers in the wild, proves to be an arresting documentary. Legendary German filmmaker Werner Herzog took an interest in Treadwell's efforts and performed several interviews with Treadwell before things ended in tragedy.

Harry Forbes (Catholic News Service) writes, "Herzog—who also narrates—explores the life and death of a man by turns passionate, eccentric and childlike. … The result is a compulsively absorbing psychological study of an obsessed man, alternately admired and disparaged by those who knew him, as much as a nature documentary. (As for the latter, the footage of the bears is indeed extraordinary.) … You may find this film about man's relationship to nature, and madness and obsession at times uncomfortable to sit through, but you sure won't be bored."

Mainstream critics give the film higher praise than anything they've reviewed in the past few weeks.

from Film Forum, 01/19/06

Steven D. Greydanus (Decent Films) says, "Herzog's efforts to make sense of Treadwell's life, to articulate the meaning that Treadwell himself sought, range from intriguing to banal. The filmmaker's own philosophical resources seem inadequate to the task he's set himself." And he concludes, "At turns fascinating and banal, Grizzly Man is in a sense a fascinating failure, a film that dances around vital questions about the human condition that it is barely able to articulate, let alone address."