The Grizzly Man

The Grizzly Man

Film maker: Werner Herzog




The Grizzly Man

Grizzly Man documentary was produced in 2005 by a German producer called Werner Herzog. It is a retrospect of the work of Treadwell, who was very passionate about the conservation of bears until he ultimately met his death while doing what he loved most. The title Grizzly Man is derived from the grizzly bears which were the animals that Treadwell was looking after. In the film, excerpts from Treadwell’s footage are shown, what is seen is a man who is very assertive, defiant and intelligent enough to pursue his mission at all costs. Treadwell asserts that he knows very well that he is breaking the country’s federal laws, but justifies his actions by saying he is doing it for the sake of the bears.

The grizzly man shows how he could camouflage his presence in the woods making it almost impossible for the game rangers to notice his presence. The most fascinating thing about the film is Treadwell’s interaction with the bears without fear. The bears treat him as one of their own. Treadwell says that the passive reaction from the bears stems from the fact that he had already gained the trust of the grizzly bears. For a first time viewer, these assertions are very believable. Sadly, Treadwell and his girlfriend met their death in the hands of the same bears. The producer goes to great lengths to explain the circumstance that made Treadwell and his girlfriend lose their lives. These conclusions are made from a recording that was retrieved from the bushes by the game wardens.

An evaluation of the film points to a filmmaker that is torn in between two points of view. On one hand, the filmmaker tries to portray Treadwell as a very gifted young man who has the courage and desire to be fulfilled against all the odds. Treadwell is cunning enough to challenge the establishment and succeeds in doing so. Living in the bushes is not comfortable. However, he desserts the comfort of the city for that. This shows great resolve and sacrifice. On the other hand, the twist at the end brings a new perception to the viewer. Here, Treadwell is seen to be careless because he even goes ahead to have his girlfriend in the woods with him, despite the imminent danger. Here, Treadwell is seen to be callous and inconsiderate, and this puts the viewer in a dicey situation. The producer has put both perspectives for the viewer to choose rather than asserting personal opinions.

This documentary follows the conventions of documentary practice almost in totality. This conformity is shown by the voice over, reenactments, archival sequences, direct and indirect interviews and much more. However, the montage sequence in the film does not come out clearly. The viewer is not put in a position to understand the point of view of the producers of the film. The viewer is left to form an opinion for him or herself. The exposition also in the film comes at the end, against documentary practice where dramatic scenes are placed strategically in the middle the films to catch the attention of the viewer.

The filmmaker has a responsibility to portray the character’s view, to make the viewer understand the situation and what options the character has. In this instance, the producer does very well to bring out the character’s personality. Herzog tells his story in the best way possible; he has conformed to his ethical obligation. The story belongs to both the filmmaker and the subject, and that is how it should be. However, here, the subject is given the opportunity to tell his story more than the filmmaker. Therefore, Treadwell’s voice shapes the film. The persuasion of the film by Herzog does not come out clearly. As a result, different viewers will form different opinions depending on their perception of the film.

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