Monday, August 21, 2006

Bear with me

So, I finally got around to watching Sympathy for Mr Vengeance, but not before watching another film, so the review (such as it is) for Mr V will have to wait a day or two. Also, there are some scenes I want to go back to...

So the film that led me, yet again, to bypass Mr V was Grizzly Man, a documentary by legendary filmmaker Werner Herzog.

I have not seen any Herzog films prior to this, but it was the subject that drew me to this one: Timothy Treadwell, a man who lived 24/7 with grizzly bears for 13 years. I seem to recall reading bits of a Vanity Fair article on this chap a few years ago. I learned from that story, just as viewers of this film do within very few minutes, that the man was, indeed, eventually killed in a bear attack, along with his girlfriend Amy Huguenard, who was with him on location.

Synopsis: The film shares with us footage shot by Treadwell over the course of his time with these magnificent animals at an Alaskan reserve. And through the footage we glean that this was a passionate man who cared deeply for animals of all sorts, but especially bears. It also seems that perhaps Treadwell had a not-quite-complete grasp of reality as regards his place in the bear kingdom and the human kingdom. Truthfully he didn't really fit in either place.

Review: This is a touching movie, but it's not a Kleenex-fest. Anyone who feels any empathy towards animals will relate, on some level, to Treadwell. But it's also clear that perhaps he didn't always handle things in the best way. The footage is out of this world, and Treadwell is a funny guy, so there is comedy there, too. The chief problem is probably Herzog, who is simply not a good documentarian (whereas, ironically, Treadwell could have been a great one). On a trivial note, his accent is so heavy that it sounds like Arnold Schwarzenegger is doing the narration at times, and it comes across as too severe for the footage. Some of the set-ups and interviews ring a little false and too staged. But these pale when compared to his final fatal flaw. Audio footage of the killing of Treadwell and Amy exists; Herzog listens to this but does not share with us. Okay, perhaps we don't want to hear it anyway -- after all, it's not going to be fun. BUT, he then proceeds to tell the owner of the tape, Treadwell's ex-girlfriend, that SHE SHOULD DESTROY IT. Mary, mother of God, are these the words of a documentarian?! What sort of ridiculous advice is that? Grrrr.

The score: I really liked this film, despite the director's shortcomings. It's worth watching if you get the chance. I'll give it 72 out of 100.


Blogger Camie Vog said...

Just saw this last week! Fluffy Stuffin' highly recommended it to me. Matter of fact, his review was even more entertaining than the film. I read about Treadwell in Outside magazine after his death, so this film was an excellent follow-up.
You are right, Treadwell was likeable, but his views were out there towards the end of his life. Interesting how there is very little footage of Amy throughout the film. I found that even more sad.
As for the audio tape, I liked how Herzog chose to film this portion. Having his face relatively obscured from the camera while listening and focusing on the reaction of the ex-girlfriend now in possession of the tape. I also disagree with his recommendation to destroy the tape, refering to it as a "white elephant" which would forever haunt the ex.
As for his parents, I feel sorry for their closed mindedness concerning their son. Their interview seemed vacant. I also wished that Amy's family would have chosen to be a part of this film. Their absence only made Amy appear even more of a ghost.

21 August, 2006 14:32  
Blogger Deep Stoat said...

Kleenex-fest? For a moment there, my mind wandered.

21 August, 2006 15:12  
Blogger Cynnie said...

I watched that..
the guy is insane ! he should have stuck with living amongst the least they seemed to really ant him.

22 August, 2006 01:32  
Blogger tideliar said...

I saw that a few months ago. Not to speak ill of the dead, but Treadwell was a fucking loon. It kind of made it hard for me to give a shit...the dude was nuttier than a granola bar. Interesting movie though. And the footage of the bears is magnificent..

22 August, 2006 02:30  
Blogger Suze said...

I remember reading about this couple some time back. It sounds like an interesting film I may need to hire this one.

22 August, 2006 12:32  
Blogger * (asterisk) said...

Seems the popular opinion is that Tim was a little wacko. Still, a nice guy, seemingly genuine.

DS: You're a bad boy!

It's cool that y'all have watched it. Join the gang, Suze.

22 August, 2006 14:14  
Blogger Shep said...

When I lived in Poland, I once stumbled into a cinema that was showing a season of Herzog films. In Polish.

That was a looooong day.

03 February, 2007 22:23  
Blogger * (asterisk) said...

Shep: I'm sure it was a lot of fun!

04 February, 2007 10:35  

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