Grizzly Man (2005)

grizzly man poster 2005 movie
8.5 Overall Score

Sets up a good debate on nature conservation and how it should be done

Sometimes Treadwell is too much to take

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Grizzly Man

Studio:  Lions Gate Films

Genre(s):  Documentary

Release Date(s):  August 12, 2005

MPAA Rating:  R


The final picture of Timothy Treadwell and Amie Huguenard

Timothy Treadwell lived on the edge.  Spending thirteen summers in Alaska among bears, he saw himself as their protector and brother.  On October 5, 2003, Timothy and his girlfriend Amie Huguenard were killed by a bear attack in Katmai National Park.  Now, Werner Herzog looks back on the life of Timothy Treadwell and examines the life and death of a highly debated man.

Directed by Werner Herzog, Grizzly Man is a documentary composed of interviews and Treadwell’s own footage from his trips to the wilderness.  The film was released to critical acclaim and did raise the debate on Treadwell’s work with the bears.


The remains of the killer grizzly

I have respect from nature.  I can see beauty in it, but I can also recognize danger.  I have a hard time feeling sorry for someone who puts themselves in danger’s way and then pays the ultimate price for it.  I hoped that the film would make him more sympathetic to his situation, but it might have had the opposite effect.

Bears are wild animals, and they are meant to be in the wild.  I realize that the human world is encroaching on the animal world, but I see Treadwell encroaching just as much.  By inserting himself in their environment and acclimating himself to them, he also does the bears damage by making them more curious about humans and less afraid of them.  He’s right in that humans don’t have to worry about bears, it is generally the bears that have to worry about humans…and they are practically sitting with him.  This not only confuses the animals, but it also endangers people who might attempt to emulate him.


Death was coming…just a matter of when

Treadwell is also very unlikable.  I do admire his attempts to help the bears and educate people about them, but he also comes off as an extremely unbalanced egomaniac.  Despite being the only one there a majority of the time, he’s always “on”.  It is hard to remember that this is all before the reality show boom, but if you didn’t know that you’d think he was just trying to pimp himself as a reality star.  The tales of past Hollywood failures and his increasing popularity before his death does make me question his “performances” like the “why can’t I keep a girlfriend” talk, begging for rain and rants about the park system…it feels like more of an act than reality.  If it isn’t an act, he isn’t well.


Treadwell doing his best impersonation of Jeff Daniels in Dumb and Dumber…

Herzog does a nice job with the documentary in that it doesn’t feel too judgmental on either side.  It does show the beauty of the creatures (and I actually find his relationship with foxes almost more interesting), but it also isn’t exactly friendly to Treadwell.  The odd thing is that almost everyone in the movie seems a bit “off”…from Treadwell’s previous partner Jewel Palovak to the coroner, everyone seems not quite there.

Grizzly Man is an interesting documentary and worth seeking out.  Not only do you get see some majestic beasts up close, it raises real questions about conservation and environmentalists attempts to help.  It is too bad that Treadwell did go the direction he chose because the footage he shot was rather good, and he could have been a bigger (and better) voice for conservation if he had followed a more traditional route.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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