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Grizzly Man

Director:  Werner Herzog
Year Released:  2005
Rating:  4.0

There are, to my eyes (and mind), three different levels operating here: there's (1.) the fact that Timothy Treadwell, bear aficionado, was slowly becoming (if not already) insane, trying to escape the modern world by immersing himself so far into nature that he felt he had become an animal, (2.) the 'fictional' aspect of Treadwell-as-filmmaker, turning his passion into a narrative, creating names for the foxes and creatures, 'directing himself' to re-do shots and even pre-scripting his on-camera speeches and (3.) the relationship between Herzog and Treadwell - embodied in the scene where Herzog listens to Treadwell and his lover die - and identifying with the lunacy, knowing full well he could have met his end doing what he must do: make movies. Knowledge of layer #3 depends on how familiar you are with Herzog's filmmaking output (and he's not the most accessible filmmaker, to be honest), but parts one and two are certainly out there in the open for anyone to pick up. What's particularly brilliant with this documentary is how Herzog both respects and disassembles his subject by slowly revealing his perverse past, like his early animal obsession, his self-doubts, his extremely bizarre trip to Australia to find information on his 'new identity' (?) and his life as a failed actor. Some of the Herzog-shot footage is awkward but not out of place - as an eccentric, it's only natural he seeks out eccentrics, like the coroner, one of Treadwell's old girlfriends (who's even wearing bear earrings), the ecologists and, most poignant of all, the ghost of Treadwell on videotape.

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