Grizzly Man [Blu-ray] 
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Documentary from acclaimed director Werner Herzog which explores the life and death of amateur grizzly bear expert and wildlife preservationist Timothy Treadwell. Treadwell lived unarmed among the bears for 13 summers and filmed his adventures in the wild during his final five seasons. In October 2003, Treadwell's remains, along with those of his girlfriend, Amie Huguenard, were discovered near their campsite in Alaska's Katmai National Park and Reserve. They had been mauled and devoured by a grizzly, the first known victims of a bear attack in the park. Herzog plumbs not only the mystery of wild nature, but also the mystery of human nature as he chronicles Treadwell's final years in the wilderness. Herzog uses Treadwell's own startling documentary footage to paint a nuanced portrait of a complex and compelling figure while exploring larger questions about the uneasy relationship between man and nature.
Life imitates art, they say, and there have been enough horror films based on the found-footage scenario--from The Blair Witch Project to Cloverfield--for the same scenario to work its way into the real world. But the footage recovered from the bodies of bear enthusiast Timothy Treadwell and girlfriend Amie Huguenard--which includes the sounds of their gory final moments--isn't horrific, but the basis of an affecting portrait of a troubled and gentle man's retreat into nature. For over five years, Timothy Treadwell toured amongst a group of grizzlies in the wilds of an Alaskan national park, filming them closely with an eye for natural beauty. But director Werner Herzog--with typical humanism--ignores the nature to focus on Treadwell, re-cutting his frequent monologues to camera to show an increasingly paranoid fantasist who felt persecuted by the park authorities and had a neurotic habit of giving the bears cuddly human names. Treadwell withdraws into a citadel of self-inventions--recasting himself as an orphaned Australian, a Hollywood contender (second in line, it's claimed, to play Woody in Cheers) and a Byronic eco-warrior, projecting his new-age view of nature onto the Alaskan wilderness with tragic results for him and his girlfriend. But Herzog remains sympathetic to Treadwell, saluting him as a film-maker and reflecting on the sad and subconscious choices of men for whom society is unbearable. His essayistic film restores meaning and dignity to Treadwell and Huguenard's deaths. --Leo Batchelor
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The film itself is a tale of two ideologies. On the one hand, we have Timothy Treadwell, who basically believed that nature was fundamentally benevolent. What we see of Treadwell is primarily footage of himself in front of the camera describing how it is his duty to protect the bears and look after them. It is certainly true that he was well aware of the dangerous situation he placed himself in, but perhaps his devotion to the subject blinded him from seeing that there is a great tangible distance between humans and bears. In doing so he crosses an invisible line, and gets frighteningly close to these wild animals, arguably putting them in as much danger as he does himself.
On the other hand, we have Herzog, who is the great Germanic nihilist. He narrates the film beautifully, often disagreeing with Treadwell's viewpoint, but crucially he never mocks, derides or castigates Treadwell for what he does. Interspersed within Treadwell's footage is several interviews with those who knew him best. The pain is clearly still evident for several of them, with one friend remarking "Timmy doesn't feel dead."
There are moments throughout which are ridiculous, some of which are laugh out loud funny, and some which are highly moving and sad. We watch these majestic creatures in their natural habitat, amid some awe-inspiring natural backdrop, and sympathise to some extent with Treadwell, who clearly died doing what he loved, and doing what he felt was a little bit of good in this sadistic and greedy world of ours.
From a production point of view, the film looks and sounds majestic. Richard Thompson's guitar heavy soundtrack is highly reminiscent of Brokeback Mountain, and tugs at the heartstrings throughout, as do the sweeping shots of the Alaskan wilderness in which Treadwell perished.
Ultimately, this is a deeply engrossing look at obsessive behaviour gone awry, but it is a beautiful and thought-provoking film which is undoubtedly one of the best documentaries I have ever seen.
If you're smart enough to understand that a film can show you a person and their world in a thought-provoking way, without telling you that who they are or what they do is good or bad, then you're smart enough to appreciate this film.
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