Grizzly Man (2005)

Smokey definitely looks a lot scarier now.

This is a documentary based on the life of Timothy Treadwell, a man who spent the last 13 Summers of his life chillin’ with nature in Alaska before he and his girlfriend were tragically mauled by a not-so friendly bear.

What makes this story even crazier is that he filmed his last couple of trips so it gives you that “‘Jackass’ meets the Discovery Channel” feel, but add a bit of Werner Herzog to the mix, and you have a documentary unlike any other.

What I liked about this flick was how Herzog was able to mish-mash all of these pieces of film together, and give us a look at this man, but also at nature itself. Some of the footage that Treadwell took himself is very extraordinary because of how he is able to come so close to these creatures, and though he may not always get the nicest responses out of them, he still comes closer to any of them then I would ever go. Then again, there was that time where I almost ran over a fox so I guess that kind of counts, right? Anyway, it’s still amazing footage that Treadwell is able to able to capture here and Herzog definitely picked the best of the bunch and shows us what it was really like for this dude to live on the edge almost every single second of his life when he would camp out there in the Summer. Definitely a lot better than some of the stuff that I have seen the Discovery Channel and a lot better commentary, too.

Footage aside, Herzog is also able to show a lot about this dude through interviews with people who knew him, who found his dead body, and even some thoughts of his own. We all get to see how Treadwell effected everybody around him and it really can get to you because so many people really did love him. But the film doesn’t just kiss his ass the whole time, there are plenty of other times where we see a couple of naysayers just point out how dumb and stupid Treadwell. Hell, even one guy goes as far as to say that “he had it coming to him”, and when he says “it”, he means Treadwell’s death. Damn dude, tell us how you really feel! We definitely get to see all of Treadwell here and the people that surrounded him, loved him, and still miss him to this day.

The problem with some of this stuff is that Herzog does get a little too close to this film and the people in it, and creates some very fake moments that are actually laughable now that I think about them. There’s a couple of scenes where Herzog puts himself in front-of the camera and tries to almost stage these melodramatic scenes as if they were in a movie of his own, but the one that really made me laugh was when the guy who listened to Treadwell’s death tape is talking a going on about what he heard, but then he all of a sudden stops mid-sentence because it almost seemed like Herzog wanted to hold him off for dramatic effect. Instead, it just came off as weird and very fake, and it’s a wonder why Herzog didn’t try and edit this part out anyway.

Despite this though, the real reason why this flick works the way it does is because of the man himself, Timothy Treadwell. Treadwell is one of these guys that is so easy to write-off as a total nutcase right from the start, but as the film goes on you start a real human side to him and realize that he loves nature, he loves animals, and he loves being who he is. Treadwell is a guy that gets very up close and personal with these animals and knows that he is basically putting himself into harm’s way every time he does so, but he never shows any signs that he wants to hurt or endangers these furry guys in anyway shape or form. He even goes as far as to start openly crying and sobbing how much he loves and cares for them and yes, it is very strange, but at the same time it’s very emotional because you never once doubt that this guy is putting on a show. He used to be an actor and he is filming himself the whole time, but he loves these animals so much and it’s almost as inspirational as it is weird.

What’s also great about this flick is how we see all of Timothy Treadwell, as I’ve mentioned before, but not just from his friends and family but also from himself. He films himself giving off plenty of little speeches about how he loves these animals and nature itself, but he also shows plenty of angry tirades where he basically points the middle finger up to the government that says he’s crazy, Alaskan park officials who tell him he can’t be with these animals so closely, and to poachers who come into where he camps and openly mock him. There’s a couple of these scenes where he goes crazy and it’s very disturbing as much as it is true and it shows how many people out there look at nature and don’t give a shit about it or the people that love it. Now I am no tree hugger whatsoever, but I do love nature and I love all animals out there and this really struck a cord with me how one person can be so in love and so taken away with nature, that he almost feels like he’s one of them and will protect them in anyway he can. I may sound like I’m going on a constant rant here about this dude, but Timothy Treadwell was a great man that loved these animals and even though he may have a couple of dark sides to him as well, it’s what makes him all the more human in the long run.

Consensus: Grizzly Man is a beautiful film that shows the life of Timothy Treadwell, a man who loved nature, animals, and everything else around him and would stop at nothing to be with them and protect them, even if that did mean losing his own life, as well as his lady friend.



  1. A story that you pretty much know will end the way it does but got to love Timothy Treadwell for the passion he had for these animals. Great film and review dude.

  2. Unforgettable film and portrait of a man-going-animal; do you wish you could have heard the audio recordings of his death? More powerful because it goes unheard?

  3. It really is a brilliant film. Profound and deeply unsettling – how much power do we really have against nature?

    I love this line: ‘Jackass’ meets the Discovery Channel’. brilliant

  4. I actually went the opposite way on Treadwell. For me he started out as a regular guy who just liked the outdoors, but as we saw more and more of his actions, and more and more of his self tapes, that’s when he started becoming a “nutcase” to me. It finally became apparent that if he could have had any wish in the world, it would have been to become one of those bears.

    The scene that sticks out for me is early in the film where it shows this huge grizzly standing up and rubbing his head on a branch. After it leaves it shows Treadwell standing in the same spot and the branch is 3-4 FEET over his head.

  5. Interesting review and though I disagree with your rating, I do see the point to most of your insight.
    I, for once, was not that into it. I never truly sympathized with Treadwell and I didn’t see how what he was doing could significantly translate to a better understanding of Grizzly Bears, or even contribute to their protection as a species. I feel that Treadwell’s interest in education was worth exploring a bit more because it would have shown that his adventures with the bears was more than an odd, and very peculiar love for nature. Maybe if we knew more of the man outside of the film, we would relate more to the very strange man presented to us.
    I also did notice those instances where Herzog seemed to be setting things up to add some drama and suspense to the whole film, which certainly didn’t work me. I also didn’t quite get the very strong opinions that people seemed to have of Treadwell, perhaps attributed to the fact that we know so little of his persona beyond the Grizzly Bear.
    Not one of Herzog’s best in my modest opinion.
    Thanks for sharing

  6. I’m a fan of documentaries but this never held any interest for me. Nice review though especially like “Then again, there was that time where I almost ran over a fox so I guess that kind of counts, right?”. 😉

Leave a Reply

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

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

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google 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