Grizzly Man

It’s like “Free Solo” meets “Where the Wild Things Are”.

What a classic doc!

Grizzly Man” dives deep into the story of Timothy Treadwell, a guy who basically decides to ditch civilization for the Alaskan wilds to live with grizzly bears.

It’s like he was trying to draft his own real-life version of a Disney movie—only this one doesn’t have a fairy-tale ending.

Thanks to film guru Brian Savelson for reminding me to highlight this doc.

Trailer for “Grizzly Man”

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Longer Trailer of Grizzly Man

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Watch “Grizzly Man”

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Grizzly Man DVD & Blu-Ray

You can get Grizzly Man on DVD at; and you can get it on Blu-Ray at

Grizzly Man on Netflix?

A bunch of folks ask me if Grizzly Man will get on Netflix (including a ton back in 2022). The answer for now is no.

I love to play the Netflix Algorithm game with documentaries. Becuase, damn, that Netflix algo is good!

The game is that I type the documentary’s name into Netflix to see what will come up. It’s also a good way to find documentaries like Grizzly Man (or whatever doc you’re looking for).

When I type “Grizzly Man” into Netflix, here are the top films that come up:

  • Alone (a reality show about being in the wildnerness) — that’s not a bad pick
  • Blackfish (hmm, a bit off)
  • Island of the Sea Wolves (also a bit off)
  • Grizzly & the Lemmings (ok, the algo is way off at this point)

Oh well, Netflix is not perfect.

By the way, a couple of friends have also asked me if Disney+ will carry Grizzly Man. When you play the algo game with DisneyPlus (me typing in “Grizzly Man”, the algo comes back with nada. Man, Netflix’s algo is still far superior to Disney’s!


  • My Rating: 98/100
  • IMDB Rating: 7.8/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes Ratings: 85/100 (Users); 92/100 (Critics)

Review of Grizzly Man

Imagine yourself in Herzog’s shoes for a moment. It’s the early 2000s. You’re sifting through a maze of footage, a daunting hundred hours.

It’s the life work of Timothy Treadwell, a man gripped by the allure of Alaska’s grizzlies.

At 46, his journey ends as bear fodder.

But it’s the start of your storytelling odyssey. You, Werner Herzog, are 63.

You’ve seen it all. But this—this is different.

The Conception of Grizzly Man

Werner Herzog encounters Treadwell’s raw footage.

It’s gold.

Treadwell isn’t your standard nature buff.

He’s a former beach bum. A bear whisperer by his own design.

His life in Katmai National Park spans over a decade. It’s all on tape. Herzog knows the drill. This isn’t just wildlife documentation.

It’s a deep dive into human obsession.

Herzog – Master Storyteller

Werner Herzog’s at the helm.

He’s the mastermind behind epics like “Fitzcarraldo.”

He’s trekked through jungles. He’s stared into the void at the end of the world.

But “Grizzly Man”? It’s a unique beast.

Treadwell is a force. His enthusiasm is infectious. His naiveté is palpable.

Herzog doesn’t just watch. He dissects.

He lays bare the human condition, raw and unfiltered.

Who was the Grizzly Man?

Let’s zoom in on Treadwell.

He’s 37 when Alaska calls to him. He drops everything. He makes the bears his life. He films. He protects. He coexists.

Herzog takes Treadwell’s vibrant legacy head-on. No sugarcoating. No judgment.

We see Treadwell in all his complexity. He’s a lover of bears. A lost soul. A tragic figure dancing on the edge of wildness

What Happened to Grizzly Man (Treadwell)?

Treadwell sets his stage in the verdant theaters of Katmai National Park. He steps into the role of bear compatriot with gusto.

Each summer is a chapter, each interaction a storyline. The bears become his cast, each with a name, a personality, a part to play in Treadwell’s self-scripted saga.

As Herzog weaves these threads, you witness the bears not as mere beasts, but as beings sharing a bond with a man teetering between two worlds

The Role of the Diaries

Treadwell’s diaries are the map to his soul. They reveal a man who finds solace in the paws of giants. His video logs? They are raw cuts of his reality. Herzog picks up these pieces, shaping a narrative that’s as much Treadwell’s as his own. The diaries speak of dreams, fears, and a relentless pursuit of acceptance – by the bears, by the world, by himself.

Girlfriend Amie Huguenard’s Involvement

Amie Huguenard, the often-overlooked figure in Treadwell’s saga, steps into the light. Herzog gives space to her story, her voice.

She’s not just the girlfriend, not just a name in a headline. Through Herzog’s lens, we glimpse her world.

You sense her apprehension, her love, her commitment. In a tale dominated by Treadwell’s flamboyant narrative, Huguenard’s quiet presence echoes loudly, a poignant note that lingers long after her last appearance on the screen.

The Fatal Encounter

The inevitable strikes in the form of a bear attack.

Herzog handles this with the gravitas it deserves.

He doesn’t sensationalize; he doesn’t exploit. Instead, he presents the incident as the tragic culmination of Treadwell’s dance with danger.

We’re spared the audio of their final moments (for now) – a decision that amplifies the horror by its very absence.

As a critic, I have mixed feelings. I see this choice as a testament to Herzog’s ethical filmmaking. But I also want to hear what the heck went down!

It’s a narrative decision that forces us to reckon with the reality of Treadwell’s fate. I don’t blame Herzog — he’s respecting Huguenard’s humanity.

Immediate Aftermath

The shockwaves of Treadwell and Huguenard’s deaths ripple outward. Herzog gives us the aftermath, not just as news but as a reverberation through the world they left behind.

The media frenzy, the stunned reactions from friends and family, the somber reflections from those who watched Treadwell flirt with danger – it’s all there.

As viewers, you and I are thrust into the stark aftermath of a life lived on the edge.

Media and Public Reaction

The news of Treadwell’s death breaks in October 2003. Major outlets like The New York Times and The Guardian feature extensive reports.

Television networks such as CNN delve into heated discussions about Treadwell’s controversial life.

Online, forums like Reddit and wildlife blogs debate his actions.

Herzog captures this media whirlwind, showing a spectrum of reactions, from admiration of Treadwell’s dedication to stark criticism of his foolhardiness.

Impact on Wildlife Conservation

Herzog explores the impact of Treadwell’s actions on conservation policies.

Post-2003, wildlife agencies reevaluate human interaction with bears, stressing stricter guidelines. Conservationists like Jane Goodall comment on the delicate balance Treadwell tried to maintain.

The documentary presents both sides, using interviews with park rangers from Katmai and clips from conservation forums debating the repercussions of Treadwell’s approach.

Legacy and Memorials

Treadwell’s legacy is complex. Herzog showcases memorials set up in Katmai in 2004, and fundraisers held by animal welfare groups like PETA.

Treadwell’s foundation, Grizzly People, continues his work, albeit with a more cautious approach.

Herzog presents these efforts without bias, prompting viewers to reflect on the lasting impact of Treadwell’s life and death.

Ethical Considerations

Herzog faces criticism for his handling of the sensitive footage.

Herzog’s decision to use Treadwell’s final screams (off-camera) raises ethical questions.

Did this inclusion respect the deceased or exploit their tragedy?

Discussions in film circles, including panels at the Sundance Film Festival in 2006, examined Herzog’s choices, with some praising his restraint and others condemning the intrusion into Treadwell’s and Huguenard’s last moments.

Herzog himself addresses these concerns in the documentary, justifying his decisions as integral to conveying the raw reality of Treadwell’s story.

Critics like Roger Ebert praise his restraint.

Others, such as filmmaker Michael Moore, question the ethics of exploiting Treadwell’s tragic end for entertainment.

Wildlife experts like biologist David Allen point out that Treadwell’s actions violated numerous safety guidelines and might have altered bear behavior detrimentally.

Herzog addresses these concerns directly in interviews featured in the film.

He goes deep in a segment with The New Yorker in November 2005, defending his approach as an attempt to honor Treadwell’s life without glorifying his mistakes.

“Grizzly Man” received critical acclaim for its profound narrative and Herzog’s thoughtful direction.

Critics such as Peter Travers of Rolling Stone praised its unflinching portrayal of Treadwell’s complex persona.

Grizzly Man’s Influence on Other Documentaries & Films

Filmmakers like Elizabeth Lo and Philipe Bédard have cited Herzog’s approach as inspirational, pushing documentary filmmaking into territories that blend anthropological inquiry with environmental commentary.

Herzog’s use of Treadwell’s handheld footage combined with his own high-definition filming techniques creates a visceral viewing experience.

The editing juxtaposes serene landscapes with intense, sometimes chaotic human-bear interactions, underscoring the film’s themes of beauty and danger coexisting.

“Grizzly Man” often draws comparisons to Sean Penn’s “Into the Wild,” another tale of human escape into nature ending in tragedy.

Both documentaries probe the allure and peril of the wilderness, though Herzog’s work delves deeper into the psychological interaction with wild animals, setting it apart with its raw, unmediated narrative style.

Lessons in Wilderness Safety

The documentary serves as a case study in what not to do in bear country.

Safety experts use Treadwell’s practices in training sessions as examples of risky behavior that can lead to dangerous encounters.

They advocate for a respect-based approach to wildlife observation.

The Grizzly Man Soundtrack

Not enough is said of this doc’s soundtrack.

British singer-songwriter and guitarist Richard Thompson’s strings pull at our hearts.

The soundtrack emerges not just as background music but as a character in its own right. Herzog knows the power of a good score.

Thanks for reading!

Rob Kelly, Chief Maniac, Daily Doc