Timothy Treadwell lived among grizzly bears for 13 summers, talked to them, even pet them on their noses. What kind of man would do such a thing? A raving lunatic, as it turns out.
Timothy Treadwell was a lunatic. He was a damaged, drunken nutjob who went to Alaska, saw grizzly bears, and decided he wanted to live with them. So he did. For 13 summers, he lived among these massive, deadly beasts, and provoked them daily until one of them finally ate him and a companion. For five of those summers he had a video camera, and I cannot adequately express my gratitude and delight that Treadwell had that camera, and that the tapes fell into the hands of demented Kraut Werner Herzog.
There is nothing here resembling a nature documentary. Treadwell uses his camera as a confessional booth, a diary, a bullhorn, and a platform for self-aggrandizement, but there isn't enough truth or cohesion to consider the tapes a biography either.
Treadwell exhibits some pretty strange behavior. He calls out to the bears "I love you", as if he were apologizing to a jilted lover. He seems to expect them to understand, and it seems as if he is waiting eagerly for the moment when they begin speaking to him. When he comes across the remains of a large female bear's excrement, he exclaims in a high-pitched voice "This came out of her butt!" and then, yes, he reaches down and picks up a hunk of the bear poop. While filming himself with his other hand. You can't tell me that's not fucking hilarious.
Timothy Treadwell isn't the only crazy person in this movie, either. Herzog interviews perhaps a dozen people from Treadwell's life, and each one is completely bonkers. The insanity peaks with the coroner who handled the mangled bodies, who is mad as a March hare. His eyes bug out and his arms flail as he describes the pair's last moments, which he reconstructs from a convenient audio recording of the mauling which is too gruesome to replay for the audience. Even the filmmaker bares his insanity for the record. In a particularly creepy scene, Herzog insists on listening to the recording through headphones, while filming himself from behind. He narrates the film with an eerie love of death.
This movie is a winner. Go see this movie. "Grizzly Man" is funny in a dark, teutonic way, but it's pure comic gold.