Thursday, December 2, 2010

Werner Herzog

In Grizzly Man (2005),Werner Herzog presents a self-appointed grizzly bear expert, Timothy Treadwell, as a symbol of all interventionist and wrong-headed do-gooders. Treadwell spent years living in Alaska among the bears, often alone for months at a time, before his luck ran out in a bear attack. He shot 100 hours of video footage, including both animal behavior and also his own first-person confessionals. Treadwell romanticizes the wild animals around him, ascribing human characteristics and names to bears and foxes. He wrongly assumes that he's living in harmony with a community of like-minded creatures. He's as misguided as First World volunteers on a Third World charity trip. Herzog's voice-over narration finds meaning in Treadwell's aspirations and beauty in his videotapes. An array of friends and observers provide a bracing contrast to Treadwell's on-camera emotional narcissism. Herzog's structuring, contextualizing, and moralizing creates value from home videos that probably would never have been seen if Treadwell hadn't been killed and eaten.
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Documentary Starts Here by Nancy Kalow is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.