Metascore
87

Universal acclaim - based on 35 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 34 out of 35
  2. Negative: 0 out of 35
  1. Brilliant, poetic, and utterly unique.
  2. Werner Herzog's magnificent tragedy, Grizzly Man, a Shakespearean character study that packs the sheer terror of "The Blair Witch Project."
  3. Reviewed by: Glenn Kenny
    100
    Herzog not only tells an incredible story but implies a dark metaphysic of the natural world that makes this film unsettlingly larger than its human subject.
  4. 100
    The documentary is an uncommon meeting between Treadwell's loony idealism, and Herzog's bleak worldview.
  5. Reviewed by: Dan Jolin
    100
    A complex, unique and engrossing journey into the murky recesses of an unhinged mind. It really needs to be seen to be believed.
  6. It's Treadwell's contradictions and controversies that fascinate Herzog the filmmaker, inspiring him to create this enthralling documentary portrait, his best film in years.
  7. 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.
  8. Reviewed by: Scott Foundas
    100
    A brilliant portrait of adventure, activism, obsession and potential madness that ranks among helmer Werner Herzog's strongest work.
  9. 100
    A small masterpiece of a documentary that takes us into the heart of a complex darkness.
  10. 100
    A brilliant documentary about an American saint and fool--a man who understands everything about nature except death.
  11. A mesmerizing work of disturbing power and unease.
  12. For many the question remains about how Treadwell's eventual death should be regarded--as a tragedy, as a fool's fate, or as comeuppance for daring to humanize wild predators and habituating them to human presence. Herzog's perspective is, of course, scrupulously nonjudgmental.
  13. Shows and tells an astonishing story, a disturbing and provocative tale of obsession, bravado and self-invention that leaves you open-mouthed for all kinds of reasons.
  14. Reviewed by: Jim Fusilli
    90
    Mr. Herzog's perspective is an invaluable balance to Mr. Treadwell's as the animal advocate approaches what seems like madness.
  15. 88
    Herzog conducts his own expedition into knowing the unknowable -- the true task of any filmmaker. Herzog makes it an art.
  16. 88
    Herzog himself is one of the great lunatic directors of our century, a mad genius who repeatedly attempts to challenge nature and the gods in his own films.
  17. 88
    Herzog tries to make sense out of the blond-haired young man, who looked an awful lot like Kinski.
  18. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    88
    A haunting and fascinating portrait of so much that is worth exploring: the implacability of nature, the hubris of human endeavor and the line between supreme dedication and madness.
  19. Reviewed by: Staff (Not credited)
    88
    Timothy Treadwell was killed, along with his girlfriend, by a rogue bear in October 2003.
  20. 88
    Actually three movies in one: a wildlife film about how grizzly bears behave in their natural habitat, a character study of an eccentric environmentalist, and a chilling, voyeuristic narrative of how death stalks that man.
  21. There's an element of the nature film to Grizzly Man, and those passages are truly stunning, offering an up-close look at these magnificent animals.
User Score
7.1

Generally favorable reviews- based on 126 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 40 out of 64
  2. Negative: 16 out of 64
  1. Sep 16, 2014
    9
    A HUGE return to form for Werner Herzog. Like Klaus Kinski before him, the crazy/tragic life of Timothy Treadwell brings out the best in the idiosyncratic director, and no one else could have done him justice. Full Review »
  2. Apr 29, 2014
    8
    This was a great documentary. It was very interesting watching this film knowing that, in the end, these animals that he loved so much wound up being the thing that killed him. However, throughout the film, we get to see his great interactions with the bears and foxes he encounters, while we also see a lot of comedy from Treadwell, which was unexpected. In spite of how tragic the film is at its core, there was enough humor to not bum you out with how Timothy's life ends. On top of this, Herzog's gentle direction really allowed the tapes made by Treadwell to speak for themselves (with a little narration from Herzog) and overall, it leaves you realizing that this man simply loved the grizzly bears and while he may be a little odd, he is oddly endearing and admirable. Full Review »
  3. Jwv
    Jan 22, 2014
    9
    I must be frank; I didn't appreciate Werner's (the documentary makers) narration in the beginning. There is little intonation, his sentences are somewhat chopped and he has an unusual accent. During the whole journey however, we get to know Werner better because of his very personal opinion, sharp analysis and sensible and intelligent commentary. Near the end, I even viewed him as a companion with whom I was delving deeper into the mind of Timothy. Werner does an extremely good job of complicating Timothy's character with sharp analysis and good footage selection and arranging. I like the honesty of the selection process too; he both incorporates the opinions of Timothy's confidantes and of critics. The honesty and plainness with which the interviewees speak also touched me.

    Like with the narration, I also adopted an opinion about Timothy polar to the one I ended with and for Werner to achieve this is a great feat. In the beginning, I thought Timothy was a great guy. Due to the directness and authenticity of his footage (this because of his own shot camera footage and the lack of social control thereabouts), the enthusiasm and pure, passionate love is tangible (and adrenaline too), even through the obstacle the medium is. You cannot but sympathize when Timothy talks about his life and how he found purpose in his lifestyle. He reminded me of Cesar Millan in the extreme, someone with a pure love and one vision. His genuine and childish enthusiasm and affection for nature is truly heart-warming, this man is all passion for his job. What's also great is Timothy's respect for the majesty of these grizzlies and his knowing that the only thing that keeps him from death there is the bear's tolerance that he wins by his own mental strength. He is a person to be admired because he lived the way he wanted, even in the face of danger and opposition. Sadly enough however, I don't admire him for his work because I feel from watching that Timothy was at fault in invading the bears' lives and playing their unwanted protector.

    The documentary does a great job of complicating our initial image of Tim as a fighter for good. Timothy's diaries also reveal a flawed side, a side very hungry for recognition and being rebellious for the sake of it. It is quite disturbing to see Timothy talk to the bears as if they were humans, his long periods of loneliness may account for this, but it is still remarkable and strange. After finishing the documentary, the question of how Timothy actually helped these animals in doing what he does remains vague, and it doesn't help that the narrator explicitly states in the beginning of the movie that the bears filmed actually already live in a wildlife park. These and other facts suggest that Timothy might have actually lived among these bears not with the primary goal to better their lives, but that it might have been a solution for a broken man that was done with society and needed some time to figure himself out. I strongly suspect that his living in this wild, primordial nature might have largely been a therapy for him, a way out of the complicatedness and disappointments that human society brings. I'm convinced the bumblebee-footage answer our question about why Timothy wishes to die there of any places. Timothy liked living on the edge (as his childhood story suggests too), and I think he kicked on the adrenaline and tension that comes from the knowledge that to fail mentally in this wilderness is to die. It was a challenge to him to survive every day and every hour, of which each moment he lives works life- and character-affirming; each moment is a celebration of his mental strength. I believe he didn't want to die the way the bumblebee supposedly did, quite unexpected and in a very non-heroic and meaningless way. Therefore I believe that while his friends talk about his death being tragic, Timothy is delighted in the fact that he died in this way, always fighting with something greater than himself. This is the second reason why I think Timothy was there more for himself than for anything else. Another problem comes in his revering of the poop of one of the grizzlies. He absolutely sees them as divine, which makes us again question if we should search more meaning behind his death than someone dying because he was enchanted by a crazy ecstasy. His direct interference in nature and crazy pleading for the help of higher powers also reinforce the belief that Timothy's problem was mainly a personal problem. Timothy seemed to have had appropriated this piece of Eden for himself and any offense to it he may have seen as offense against his person, which makes his fight too personal and vicious for what it should be. He has a way of wildly dramatizing the importance of his self-imposed and self-created mission and his narcissism. In the end, you do ask yourself whether this is a documentary on nature or a documentary on a troubled human psyche.
    Full Review »