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Grizzly Man is a 2005 American documentary film by German director Werner Herzog. It chronicles the life and death of bear enthusiast Timothy Treadwell. The film includes some of Treadwell's own footage of his interactions with grizzly bears before 2003, and of interviews with people who knew, or were involved with Treadwell, as well as professionals dealing with wild bears.
He and his girlfriend Amie Huguenard were killed and eaten by a grizzly bear on October 6, 2003. Treadwell's footage was found after his death. The bear that killed Treadwell and Huguenard was later encountered and killed by the group retrieving the remains of the victims. The final film was co-produced by Discovery Docs, the Discovery Channel's theatrical documentary unit, and Lions Gate Entertainment. The film's soundtrack is by British singer-songwriter and guitarist Richard Thompson.
Upon its North American theatrical release, Grizzly Man was acclaimed by critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a 93% "Certified Fresh" score based on 136 reviews, with an average rating of 8/10. The site's consensus states: "Whatever opinion you come to have of the obsessive Treadwell, Herzog has once again found a fascinating subject."Metacritic reports an 87 out of 100 rating based on 35 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".
David Denby of The New Yorker said:
"Narrating in his extraordinary German-accented English, Herzog is fair-minded and properly respectful of Treadwell's manic self-invention. He even praises Treadwell as a good filmmaker: as Treadwell stands talking in the foreground of the frame, the bears play behind him or scoop up salmon in sparkling water; in other shots, a couple of foxes leap across the grass in the middle of a Treadwell monologue. The footage is full of stunning incidental beauties."
Film critic Roger Ebert, a longtime supporter of Herzog's work, awarded the film four out of four stars.
"'I will protect these bears with my last breath', Treadwell says. After he and Amie become the first and only people to be killed by bears in the park, the bear that is guilty is shot dead. Treadwell's watch, still ticking, is found on his severed arm. I have a certain admiration for his courage, recklessness, idealism, whatever you want to call it, but here is a man who managed to get himself and his girlfriend eaten, and you know what? He deserves Werner Herzog."
Charlie Russell, a naturalist who studied bears for many years, lived near them and raised them for a decade in Kamchatka. He corresponded with Treadwell and wrote about the film:
"Herzog is a skillful filmmaker so a large percentage of those who watch the movie Grizzly Man, overlook Timothy's amazing way with animals even though to me this stands out very strongly. The fact that Timothy spent an incredible 35,000 hours, spanning 13 years, living with the bears in Katmai National Park, without any previous mishap, escapes people completely. Even with his city-kid background, I found myself mesmerized by what he could do with animals."
The film placed at No. 94 on Slant Magazine's best 100 films of the 2000s.