“I will die for these animals, I will die for these animals, I will die for these animals.” Timothy Treadwell
Grizzly Man is the film that I chose to review mainly because it is not your regular nature documentary as it goes far deeper than just nature. It exposes the brutality of nature and the curiosity of human nature and is blended together to show the audience an opinion stated by the director.
Werner Herzog documentary Grizzly Man was released in 2005. It revolves around Timothy Treadwell who is an environmentalist who went to the Alaskan national state park for 13 years during summers to live with grizzly bears and in these visits he came up with almost 100 hours of footage including the final clash with the Grizzly where he eventually lost his life although that one just has audio recordings.
The film not only consists of the footage that Treadwell had but also the interviews with his friend’s acquaintances and ex-partner and how they shape up an argument that Herzog was trying to make.
“And what haunts me, is that in all the faces of all the bears that Treadwell ever filmed, I discover no kinship, no understanding, no mercy. I see only the overwhelming indifference of nature. To me, there is no such thing as a secret world of the bears. And this blank stare speaks only of a half-bored interest in food. But for Timothy Treadwell, this bear was a friend, a savior. “ Werner Herzog in Grizzly Man 2005
The film is considered to be expository through the mean of god of voice which is used through Herzog’s Commentary as both the men didn’t meet in real life. Although, the film acts as a medium for conversation as Herzog shows admiration for Treadwell’s love for nature but is also very critical about how his love blind sighted him from the dangers of living around wild animals.
He does that by the use of showing the footage of Timothy but instead of observational means he narrates his opinion to a point that at places it feels almost forced on how Herzog seem to be shaping his opinion to the audience. He also use metaphorical shots to register the audience with Treadwell’s inner turmoil and confusions
“I believe the common character of the universe is not harmony, but hostility, chaos and murder.” Werner Herzog
This is also further emphasized when Herzog labels the bears who killed Treadwell as murderers or killers to make a point. This documentary feels intimate for the viewer as its a conversation between two people with different mindset. Visuals is trying to let you think that nature is your friend but with the use of music voice over commentary and editing the director is trying to show his side.
Herzog mentions that although most of the footage of Treadwell seems to be observational but at points the shots seemed to be staged. Treadwell went to a point of re-recording some of the shots and staging some of the shots to make it look more appealing. He mentions that he was alone on these journeys but there were points where it felt like he was being filmed by his girlfriend. These sections with the use of interviews deviate the documentary from traditional nature documentary. Although, Treadwell was trying to look for identity through his actions and his footage as he put up an accent and hiding his true origin by mentioning he is from Australia.
Grizzly man also stays true to his roots by having observational footage of how bears are living in their natural habitat and how Treadwell seems to believe he belongs there and is a part of it. Herzog uses the non digetic sound score to represent nature and in the beginning it seems to be happy and uplifting but down the line it gets darker. This can be pointed out on how Herzog used the music as a means to drive the story and to make audience think the way Herzog thinks about Treadwell’s actions.
He also used the interviews to support his argument that people who knew Treadwell were impacted by his death and that his love for nature eventually led him to his death. In most of the interviews you don’t see or hear from him but at points where he talks about Treadwell’s interview with his ex-girlfriend we can see him in the footage hearing the recording. I believe he did that to show his empathy towards Treadwell and to show that he is personally moved by his death and also to make the audience feel like its still their perception that derives the conclusion.
So, in conclusion, this documentary was a perfect example of how nature has boundaries that should not be crossed, and this was done by laying out the argument through the voice of the director. It also shows how documentary is not only a mean for exposing facts but it can also shape up audience opinions and their way of thinking with the use of content and how it is used. It also gives you the power to derive a story drama and also at points prove a point through the means of editing non digetic music etc.