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Hot Docs: Herzog Film Draws Giant Crowd


Grizzly Man, the latest film by Werner Herzog, attracted large amounts of people to the Bloor Cinema yesterday. It was the second screening of the film, but that didn't mean the theatre wasn't completely jammed. I took a seat somewhere in the upper bowl as I heard a gentleman mutter under his breath: "Jesus, this isn't a baseball game." Indeed.

The rush line formed somewhere around five o'clock - some two hours before the scheduled start. Since director Werner Herzog wasn't around, I decided to score an interview with David Roach - one of the first people in the rush line that day. I decided ask the fool why he was hanging around so early.

"Well, why are you here so early?" Roach asked.

"I'm having dinner across the street. Relax."

"Oh."

"Tell me why you're here so early," I demanded.

"Herzog is a genius. I think it's important to support his films since he doesn't get a lot of mainstream exposure. He's an exciting director, an inventive one, and the dude is a freaking genius!"

"Do you even know what this film is about?"

"I think it's about bears or something."

Pretty much. Grizzly Man is the story of Timothy Treadwell, the eccentric writer and bear expert/lover. Herzog has gained access to the footage Treadwell captured during his last handful of years in Alaskan bear country. Treadwell spent thirteen seasons living among the giant brown bears. During this time, Timothy recorded over 100 hours of video...and also degenerated as a cognitive being.

Throughout this film we constantly jump between feelings of admiration for Treadwell and embarrassment regarding his "cause". We get the notion that, despite his remarkable presence and sense of humour, there are a few screws missing up there. Timothy runs with the foxes and interacts with the giant bears, and he curses the Parks Department and condemns the poachers...and after all of that, he is eaten by the bears he tried to protect.

Herzog, utilizing Treadwell's footage, gives us a final glimpse into the eyes of a grizzly bear. These are the eyes of an animal, an animal whose only purpose is to survive another season. Treadwell saw something different in those eyes. And the bear got lunch.


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