Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Review - Grizzly Man (2005 - Dir. Werner Herzog)

On evlkeith's advice I'm tasting the work of obscurendure legend Werner Herzog for the first time. Well actually it's the second time, because I watched Grizzly Man a few years ago, but took very little notice other than to arrive at the view that the main protagonist of the film deserved to get eaten by the bears. (Perhaps a tad harsh - evlkeith). I decided to revisit the documentary, armed with my new understanding and appreciation of the master director.

Maybe I was a little harsh the first time around. The documentary focuses on the life of the late Timothy Treadwell; an eco-warrior with a love of North America's bear population. Treadwell felt such affinity with these animals that he spent his Summers living in the wild with bears, often naming, petting, cuddling and treating them like his buddies. I'm sure I'm not giving much away by informing you that Treadwell was ultimately killed and eaten by a rogue grizzly. The only surprise is that he survived thirteen Summers in the wild.

The film is interesting in its portrayal of the contrasting sides of Timothy's life. On the one hand Treadwell is a naive, childlike enthusiast and protector of the bears, while on the other he is an irritating, deluded self-publicist with a limited understanding of the environment he has entered. As a film maker he produces some amazing shots and sequences of bears hunting, fighting and his 'friend' the fox's life and interactions, but ultimately spoils them with his own self-important ranting.

The second star of the film is undoubtedly Werner Herzog, who provides an emotional and heartfelt commentary to proceedings. He appears genuinely upset on hearing the tape of Treadwell's ultimate demise and showed his respect for his subject throughout, while still presenting the alternative views of professional environmentalists. It's not a classic by any means, but it's an interesting and emotive little journey with some beautiful imagery.

If you like this you could also try:
Into the Abyss, Encounters at the End of the World, The White Diamond.

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