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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, wildlife activist, and aspiring documentarian Timothy Treadwell.
For Grizzly Man, Herzog used sequences extracted from more than 85 hours of video footage shot by Treadwell during the last five years of his life, and conducted interviews with Treadwell's family and friends, as well as bear and nature experts. Herzog also narrates, and offers his own interpretations of the events. In his narration, he depicts Treadwell as a disturbed man who may have had a death wish toward the end of his life, but also refuses to condemn him for this.
Tropes associated with Grizzly Man:
- All Animals Are Dogs: A fox is shown to allow Treadwell to feed and pet it. The bears, naturally, avert this. And for all his enthusiasm, Threadwell appears to be aware of that.
- Cloudcuckoolander: "Oh my gosh! The bear, Miss Chocolate, has left me her poop! It's her crap! It was just in her butt and it's still warm! This is a gift from Miss Chocolate!"
- Cluster F-Bomb: Recording at the end of one summer, Tim is attempting to sum up his experiences of the past few months, but abruptly breaks into a profane rant about poachers, tourists, the government and the wildlife services. It goes on for several minutes, almost none of which Herzog cuts out.
- Conveniently an Orphan: Tim wasn't. But since 19 he pretended to be one to fake a Mysterious Past, and eventually had his name legally changed (Treadwell, although a name in his family tree, wasn't his own).
- Does Not Like Guns: Treadwell made a point on never carrying a gun and said he would rather die than harm a bear. He even refused to carry bear repellent because he felt deeply disturbed after using it on a bear once.
- It crosses into Tear Jerker territory when you realize that a bear repellent could've very well saved his and his girlfriend's lives when a bear invaded their tent...
- Doomed Expedition: Herzog loves this trope.
- Don't Go in The Woods: of bear country in Alaska during certain times of year.
- Everything's Worse with Bears: Well, not at first.
- Foregone Conclusion: Unfortunately (and not predictably).
- Friend to All Living Things: Treadwell could apparently play with bear cubs... while their mother was watching. Then the bears got hungry...
- Heroic Sacrifice: The coroner who examined the remains of Tim and Amie posits that Tim tried to distract the bear so that Amie could escape. If this was the case then he was tragically unsuccessful.
- Hypocrite: Tim routinely insulted tourists, which he considered akin to poachers... despite the fact he came into contact with the bears for the first time as a tourist himself. He also considered that the park rangers' plane that flew over the area twice a month was harassing the bears.
- It's All About Me: Don't appear on camera, I'm supposed to be alone here! It's Tim Treadwell, the kind warrior! I'm the only one here! I'm the only one protecting these bears!
- Also, despite the fact that he had his girlfriend with him, he never mentioned her in his journal entries and she only appeared three times on-camera, once while crossing a river from afar.
- Just One Little Mistake: Tim and Amie were supposed to leave earlier that year... but some incident with an "obese stewardess" at the airport somehow convinced them it was a better idea to return to the Grizzly Maze for some weeks more. It wasn't.
- Lemony Narrator: Werner Herzog, who alternates between praising Timothy for his ability to capture such beautiful footage, and mourning what he perceived as Timothy's poor judgement.
- Meet Cute: Treadwell's ex-girlfriend, Jewel Palovak, told Herzog that they met when they both got in trouble at work on the same day, him for doing a Silly Walk in front of customers and her for accidentally starting a small fire. Their relationship didn't become romantic until sometime later, but the incident made them fast friends on the spot.
- Motor Mouth: Tim has a bit of one.
- Mountain Man: Timothy saw himself as such despite having no training whatsoever.
- Nature Is Not Nice: Herzog appears to be of this opinion, though he doesn't condemn Threadwell for thinking otherwise. The fact he survived amongst wild bears for thirteen years suggests Threadwell may have had a point. The fact he didn't live to see a fourteenth... Doesn't.
- Never Found the Body: Waaaaaay averted. Treadwell's severed arm was found, with the watch still ticking on it...and then, once the authorities killed the bear that ate him, they found the rest of him (and Amie) inside it. Have fun sleeping.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: The bear that killed Tim was killed, along with a second bear that attacked the ranger party that was trying to recover his body. The interviewed experts also point out that rather than "protecting" the bears and foxes as Tim claimed, his continuous presence there just made the animals less inclined to avoid humans, and so more likely to be killed by poachers.
- Nothing Is Scarier: Herzog is filmed listening to the audio recording of Treadwell's death. There's no music for this scene, and the audio of the tape cannot be heard, but Herzog turns visibly pale while listening to it, and when he removes the headphones, his hands are trembling, and he simply says: "You must never listen to this tape... If you don't destroy it, it will just be an Elephant in The Room for the rest of your life."
- Herzog did say that if we were to hear it, we'd hear -- aside from the dying screams -- Treadwell telling his girlfriend to run and save herself, and said girlfriend apparently trying to defend herself with a frying pan.
- Paranoia: Even if you believe those
unarmed touristsevil poachers left the carved messages (some think they were made by Treadwell himself or his girlfriend), it takes a very high level of paranoia to consider "Hi Timothy Treadwell - See you next summer" and a freaking smiley face as death threats.
- He also made several claims that he was a wanted man and that the park ranger helicopters that flew overhead periodically were meant for him. As is, the rangers didn't know he was out there at first and when they found out, they weren't exactly on a manhunt (although they were concerned about his safety and wanted to convince him to go home).
- Retirony: The couple was scheduled to depart the morning after their attack, and Amie was supposed to get a new job and possibly leave the whole living among grizzlies thing the next week.
- There is also a short clip from The Late Show where David Letterman interviewed him and jokingly asked if Tim would eventually get eaten by a bear. (This clip is only in the theatrical version as copyright issues caused it to be replaced with another interview segment for the video and television versions.)
- Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: I will die for these animals, I will die for these animals, I will die for these animals...
- She Who Must Not Be Seen: Amie only appears 3 times in the original 85 hours of video, has her face always covered, and is never heard.
- Snuff Film: A camera recorded audio from the death of Treadwell and his girlfriend. Though the filmmaker listened to the tape he offered little elaboration on it and urged its possessor to destroy it. The executives actually wanted to use the audio in the film, but Herzog refused to allow this on the grounds of taste.