Grizzly Man (2005)

R   |    |  Documentary, Biography

Grizzly Man (2005) Poster

A devastating and heart-rending take on grizzly bear activists Timothy Treadwell and Amie Huguenard, who were killed in October of 2003 while living among grizzly bears in Alaska.


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Cast & Crew

Top Billed Cast


Werner Herzog


Werner Herzog

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User Reviews

6 February 2006 | thousandisland
| Well done, but a sad story.
This film proves what little we already know about wildlife: 99% of the time, it will leave you alone as long as you don't harass it, but the 1% is a differential that ends with you screaming and some guy finding your arm later.

It also proves that we know even less about human nature than we do about bears, as Tim Treadwell is a mystery even to his own species.

It's obvious that he has some kind of disorder or drug-related brain damage, what with his extreme lability of mood, delusions of identity, neurotic and repetitive speech patterns, and general paranoia about the activities of his fellow humans. He knows a lot of interesting people, from his geeky friends who state the mundane as though it is profound ("I don't think he had a death wish at all." "I don't think anyone really deserves to be eaten alive by a bear."), to the Friend/Actor who is not even believable when portraying himself, to his very ordinary parents who are just as confused by him as we are.

In this film, we learn that Treadwell switches addictions from alcohol to bears, and descends into functional madness while attempting to integrate himself into their "secret, inner world." He is paradoxical throughout, both disliking humans and yearning for a love relationship, being fully aware of the dangers that the bears pose, but doing nothing to protect himself from them. (Well, he is fatalistic in his devotion to them, but seems to think that they will not harm him as long as he behaves properly around them. That an older, aggressive bear could become hunger-crazed enough to attack him indiscriminately seems beyond his scope.) At times he shows a thorough understanding of animal behavior and the natural world, at other times a grand ignorance of the reality of life in the wilderness. He seems forever stymied trying to enforce human concepts like justice and righteousness upon the jungle. His sentimentality with the bears and perceived relationships there show in stark relief when the animals display constant indifference or even aggression, and when it is clear that some near-altercation with them has occurred off-camera.

In the end, he is really no more successful with bears than he is with people, understanding the basic rules but never seeing the whole picture in clarity enough to know how to avoid crashing and burning.

Perhaps most indicative of his dysfunction is how he responds to the fond relationship he develops with the foxes, who actively play with him and seek his company and interaction. While he loves them, they are but a footnote on his path to destruction; he prefers the ambiguous and imagined affection from the dangerous bears, to the foxes' genuine displays of it.

"Grizzly Man" is not about a man at all; it is a sad, true story about a wayward being without a species.

On this journey, the audience meets a lot of bears that look alike but who we know were distinct to Treadwell, a creepy coroner who is probably not acting, and a slew of observers who all have their own biased and often badly distorted views of "what really happened." In the creamy middle is the quirky pilot who knew Treadwell best, and the director himself, the voice of reason in this well-crafted work.

The moral: Van Halen was right. "It's business as usual in the woods." Animals make sense; it's people that don't.

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Did You Know?


The fatal bear attack on Treadwell and Huguenard occurred near Upper Kaflia Lake in Alaska's Katmai National Park. Ironically, after Treadwell spent most of his adult life trying to protect bears that were already protected by Alaska wildlife policies, his death forced authorities to kill two suspect, dangerous bears.


Timothy Treadwell: I'm out in the prime cut of big green. Behind me is Ed and Rowdy, members of an up-and-coming sub-adult gang. They're challenging everything, including me. Goes with the territory. If I show weakness, if I retreat, I may be hurt, I may be killed. I ...


Werner Herzog describes Timothy Treadwell's last tape, while telling his friend never to listen to it, as always being "a White Elephant in the room". "White Elephant" is a different figure of speech from "Elephant in the room". "White Elephant" means an extravagant but useless project; "Elephant in the room" means something unspoken that is nevertheless obvious.

Alternate Versions

The DVD from Lions Gate Home Entertainment opens with a disclaimer stating that the film has been changed from its theatrical version. The sole change is in the first ten minutes where Herzog explains that Treadwell had become a semi-celebrity. In the theatrical version a clip is shown of Treadwell on CBS' "Late Show with David Letterman." Treadwell comes out and explains what he has been doing and Letterman quips, "We're not going to open a newspaper one day and read about you being eaten by a bear are we?" In the DVD version this exchange is omitted and replaced with a NBC news segment of Treadwell being interviewed. When the interviewer asks if he would ever want a gun to protect himself, Treadwell states that he "would never, ever kill a bear even in the defense of my own life."


McDill (as Bob McDill)
Performed by Don Edwards
Courtesy of Universal-Polygram Int. Publ., Inc.
On behalf of itself and Ranger Bob Music (ASCAP), Warner Bros. Records, Inc. by arrangement with Warner Strategic Marketing


Plot Summary

Synopsis (WARNING: Spoilers)


Documentary | Biography


Release Date:

30 September 2005



Country of Origin


Filming Locations

Alaska, USA

Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$269,131 14 August 2005

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:


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