Grizzly Man

Sunday, August 14 - Thursday, August 18, 2016

35mm print!

“One rainy afternoon in the Alaskan wilderness two years ago, a self-made man named Timothy Treadwell was mauled and eaten by a grizzly bear. It may be that the animal, a scrawny male about 28 years old and 1,000 pounds, was trying to fatten up in preparation for its winter’s sleep. As it happens, Treadwell, who achieved minor celebrity as an expert on grizzlies, publishing a book on the bears and jousting with David Letterman on late-night television, had pitched his tent in a feeding ground. The call of the wild was as irresistible to Treadwell as his flesh proved to be to that bear.

The strange story of Timothy Treadwell, a Long Island native who came to see himself as some kind of ursine Dr. Dolittle, only to die at 46 from a bear attack, is the subject of GRIZZLY MAN, the latest documentary from Werner Herzog. As fans of the German New Wave know, the director has a fondness for stories about men who journey into the heart of darkness, both without and within … Treadwell’s journey was no less bold or reckless than these earlier Herzogian tales and certainly no less enthralling.

…Mr. Herzog is also no ordinary filmmaker. It is the rare documentary like GRIZZLY MAN, which has beauty and passion often lacking in any type of film, that makes you want to grab its maker and head off to the nearest bar to discuss man’s domination of nature and how Disney’s cute critters reflect our profound alienation from the natural order.

Beauty enters first in GRIZZLY MAN, which opens with two bears grazing on a spectacular stretch of green in the Katmai National Park and Preserve, a nearly five-million-acre swath on the Alaska Peninsula. Dressed in black, his pageboy stirring in the wind, Treadwell walks into the frame and introduces the grizzlies as Ed and Rowdy. ‘They’re challenging everything, including me,’ he says as the bears munch away. ‘If I show weakness, if I retreat, I may be hurt, I may be killed. I must hold my own if I am going to stay within this land. For once there is weakness, they will exploit it, they will take me out, they will decapitate me, they will chop me into bits and pieces. I’m dead. But so far, I persevere, persevere.’

It is a typical Treadwell recitation – sincere, grandiose and intensely worrisome – a bit of bravura that ends with the self-designated ‘kind warrior’ blowing a kiss and signing off like Kojak: ‘Love you, Rowdy.’ Even if you don’t know that Treadwell was killed along with his girlfriend, a physician’s assistant named Amie Huguenard, his familiarity with, and proximity to, the bears bodes badly, for him and for them. There is something surreal (at least to a committed urbanite) about anyone who would talk to these animals, especially a guy whose blond, bland good looks made him seem like an aging surfer, a kind of Spicoli of the backwoods. But as Mr. Herzog points out in his online manifesto, ‘facts sometimes have a strange and bizarre power that makes their inherent truth seem unbelievable.'” –New York Times

  • Country USA
  • Year 2005
  • Running Time 103 minutes
  • Director Werner Herzog

IFC Center does not generally provide advisories about subject matter or potentially triggering content in films, as sensitivities vary from person to person. In addition to the synopses, trailers and other links on our website, further information about content and age-appropriateness for specific films can be found on Common Sense Media, IMDb and as well as through general internet searches.