I've seen a few documentary films by Werner Herzog (his series on death row inmates was very good) and so flipping through the catalogue of things to stream last night my interest was piqued by a documentary of his about grizzly bears and a guy who lived and found solace with them for 13 summers in Katmai National Park in Alaska.
Grizzly Man outlines the story of Tim Treadwell - a failed actor who decided to dedicate his life to preserving/defending and documenting the life of grizzly bears. Tim founded Grizzly People (a preservation organisation for grizzly bears) and spent an incredible amount of time alone living with the bears and foxes, getting dangerously close to them, playing with them and almost trying to become like one of them in a child-like way. Treadwell travelled the world (charging no fees) telling the stories of the grizzlies to school children and at conferences. Herzog's film replays parts of Treadwell's self-recorded footage of his journey with the bears as well as exploring Tim's declining mental stability. Treadwell is shown in contrasting bouts of childlike sobbing for his animals and fits of rage against the National Parks Service and those coming to hunt his 'friends', the animals.
Tim was joined by his girlfriend (Amie Huguenard) for his 13th and last(!) visit. Shortly before they were due to be collected by seaplane at the end of the 2003 summer, they were both mauled, killed and eaten by a rogue bear. A camera was rolling during their attack and while there is no footage (the lens cap was on the camera the whole time) the audio from the attack was recorded for six minutes before the tape ran out. You can't help but feel sorry for what happened to Tim and his girlfriend, but also for how naive he seems throughout his encounters.
The scenery is amazing and Herzog's re-telling of this interesting man's story is excellent. The documentary deservedly received critical acclaim and has a score of 93% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Grizzly, huh? I couldn't look away. Well worth a watch.