Grizzly Man is a documentary made by German Documentarian Werner Herzog. It follows the story of "Grizzly Man" Timothy Treadwell. Treadwell; a man who each summer would march into the Alaskan wilderness to become the self-proclaimed protector of the bears. It built him some fame. He appeared on the David Letterman show. It built him some glory. He was able to become a spokesperson for the bear at local schools. It built him a dream, in that he began to film his daily work with the bears that, according to a helicopter pilot, "he treated like people dressed in bear costumes." Is there any danger in that? Well it was the same helicopter pilot who found the mauled corpses of Treadwell and his companion on his last trip. (Herzog doesn't show that...)
Taking the more than 90 hours of footage that Treadwell filmed, Herzog weaves masterfully his interviews, his travels, and depicts Treadwell in his own words. In his presentation he tries to remain as neutral as possible. Treadwells past is revealed as was his present. The director holds nothing back. He is seen as neither saint, nor sinner, but an interesting character. He followed the bears for more than thirteen years. At times this means one can empathize with Treadwell and his quest to become one with the bears. Herzog included Treadwell's "confessionals" to the camera during a rainstorm where he revealed the pains of having an alcoholic father, his love for the bears, and his fierce devotion to protect them. All of which built empathy. However he also included scenes like Treadwell's almost sanctification when he comes across one of his female bears droppings at how glorious it was that it was once inside of her. Then a really weird "play by play" of two male bears that were fighting over the right to mate with her. He consoles the smaller bear from a distance reflecting on how he was a small guy once and how pretty "Satin", the female bear, was. Also he notes the absence of any footage of his female companion during the last two years of their involvement with the bears.
As the story itself becomes increasingly fascinating as more is revealed. Treadwell is a dreamy (maybe manic) idealist, combined with Werner Herzog's bleak world view make for a very interesting documentary. Treadwell was able to capture some excellent footage. Footage that becomes progressively manic. For example when he comes across a dead cub, he knows that it is because of a drought that has dried up the Salmon run. He curses God, and demands that he makes it rain. As things progress he becomes increasingly convinced that he can understand, speak for, chastise, and reward the bears.
Perhaps this was his fault as after a fight with an Air Alaska stewardess, he return to the "bear maze" very late in the season. It is there that he, and his girlfriend met their demise. Werner Herzog had a tape of the final recording Treadwell made. As the lens cap was on, only audio was available. One can find photos of this on the web. I wouldn't look for it. Herzog doesn 't show it. But he does show reactions. Overall this is a very interesting film. Herzog does a brilliant job of giving an unbiased account of a complex story.