Grizzly Man (15) <!-- none onestar twostar threestar fourstar fivestar -->

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The Independent Culture

Remember Johnny Morris and Animal Magic? Well, this isn't anything like it. Werner Herzog has made an extraordinary documentary about a hippie Dr Dolittle who embraced nature and paid the ultimate price for his naivety.

Timothy Treadwell was a dropout idealist who spent 13 summers prowling around the wilds of Alaska and communing with foxes and grizzly bears, much of it recorded by himself on video. We see him talk to these creatures in his weirdly high voice, play-acting the nature-doc presenter and getting dangerously close to his grizzly "friends". Too close: in 2003 Treadwell and his girlfriend were killed and eaten by a bear.

The death is chronicled early in the film, but Herzog's real interest is in examining the pathological nature of his subject. The director's pessimism, expressed in his precise Germanic voiceover, makes a counterpoint to Treadwell's fey backwoods romanticism - where the latter imagined harmony, Herzog finds only "chaos, hostility and murder". At times this opposition nudges close towards the impish spirit of mockumentary. In the end, though, Herzog allows a baffled sympathy to emerge, but, as a long-time collaborator with the late Klaus Kinski, he knows a nutter when he sees one.

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