For our next class, we’ll be discussing the film Grizzly Man, directed by Werner Herzog.
In class, I described this film as a documentary. But in fact, there are other ways of thinking about it.
Here’s some reading, for other ways of thinking about the film:
- some ideas regarding the tragic hero (in terms of Artistotle’s ideas, and in terms of Shakespeare’s use of them)
- some reading about the nature film/documentary “genre”
- wikipedia’s definition of the genre we call “life writing”
- some thoughts about “reality TV,” of which the first popular example was probably nature documentaries, and some praise for reality TV as a genre (shocking, I know)
When you’re watching this, there are some interesting things to think about:
- What is “nature” and how is it defined? Where are the lines that we draw to define nature and what do we exclude from that definition?
- Why did Herzog decide to make a film about Treadwell’s “work” and what do you think Herzog has to say about the man and his work?
- How does Herzog’s understanding of the bears differ from Treadwell’s? And how do both of their understandings differ from how we usually see animals depicted in films and TV? (Especially Korean nature programs!)
- What do you think about the footage Treadwell shot, and about the rest of his “work”? How do you feel about it, and about Treadwell himself?
As usual, if you don’t have a copy and can’t get one, you can find one online. This one has Hungarian subtitles, but seems to be complete. (If you want a version without Hungarian subtitles, you’ll probably need to use a Bittorrent client to download the file; this torrent has a lot of seeds.)
Note: I’m not officially advocating piracy; however, since this film is technically unavailable in Korea, I don’t know how you can watch it for class otherwise. It’s for educational purposes, which is why I’m posting a link at all.
I recommend you find a set of English subtitles to help you watch the movie, as Herzog’s German accent is very strong. Also, for those interested, a copy of the script (or a transcript of the dialog, anyway — it looks like a subtitle file with timings removed) is online here.
Finally, one of many funny parodies of Werner Herzog’s style. It’s probably less funny if you don’t know the Curious George children’s books, but still worth a look:
And Werner Herzog reads the kids’ book Where’s Waldo (which has no text):