Here Herzog explores the life and death of environmentalist Timothy Treadwell, a grizzly bear expert who spent thirteen entire summers, completely unarmed, near the bears at Katmai National Park and Reserve in Alaska. He filmed his adventures in this cruel, wild environment.
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Not my favourite Herzog. Partially, perhaps, because I resent having to admit that I relate more to Treadwell's childlike escapism here than to Herzog's radical existentialism (those foxes WERE SO his friends, Werner!) Partially because, while it seems so ready-made Herzog, I can't help but sense a bit of an opportunistic imposition of his world view onto the story, in a way I haven't with his other docs. Still: 3.5
When an offbeat devotee of bears seeks out their unstable primal terrain, the ominous foreshadowing of tragedy clings; a ghostly documentary. Herzog's distant direction is a dramatic masterstroke. Stays in the memory long after its viewing.
In Treadwell, Herzog finds an archetypical hero; a man like Aguirre, Woyzeck or Kaspar Hauser driven mad by the modern world; lost into a fabled landscape disconnected from time; propelled along on a fated journey of self-destruction. Herzog's innate respect for Treadwell & refusal to condemn his actions ensure that the film works more as a found-footage variant on his usual themes & less as conventional documentary.
i found this doc difficult to watch mostly due to the lack of understanding, maybe on my part, that this was not scientific research. it was just some dude doing something really scary and dangerous because he was probably nuts and other people believed in him.
To take such beautiful found footage, and add a cogent and moving narrative, as Herzog does, is a true gift to the viewer. All sides of the story are told here, from the rage to the happiness, the sadness, the tragedy, the joy and the comradeship. Herzog has his belief that nature is more dangerous than all that, but it never intrudes into bias. To me, Herzog is a master of the documentary.
One of Herzog's richest, most ironic subjects, as well as one of his more troubling treatments. It's not that his stance is condescending towards the eccentricity on display—on the contrary, Herzog seems to feel that madness is the closest a human being can come to ecstasy—but that, of all his documentaries I've seen, this is the one that least effectively dodges the charge of exploitation.
Herzog is crazy. He loves crazy people. He films crazy people. They are the product of this ill society. We are them. They are us. I just love how close I feel to the characters in Herzogs documentaries.
Well he lived a life to the edge, and gave meaning to his life and death, but he clearly crossed an invisible line. He wanted to become a bear, because he was so disappointed in humans. What he didn't realize was no matter what we do, we're still humans, bears are bears, nature is nature. It's hostile. It was really heart breaking, left me in tears at the end.