Treadwell was not only exceptionally real, he left behind some 80 to 100 hours of video footage he shot himself, which make up about half of "Grizzly Man's" running time.
TURAN: You will wonder at the wildlife footage Timothy Treadwell shot during the summers he spent camping in an area of Alaska he called the Grizzly Maze. And then you will wonder at the man. Treadwell was handsome, blond and charismatic. He styled himself as the lone guardian of the grizzly, someone who was convinced his love for the animals would protect him from their paws and claws. `They can kill,' he says on camera, `but it will never be me.' "Grizzly Man" is a story of both the powers and the limits of delusional thinking. It presents a man who felt that if you dreamed your dream hard enough, you could bend reality to your will, and who made that happen for years. The film is such a perfect fit for director Werner Herzog, a director always in love with obsession, that your first thought is that the filmmaker invented Timothy Treadwell.
Taking the life and death of bear activist Timothy Treadwell as its point of departure, GRIZZLY MAN is less a documentary than a meditation on human limits and desires. Treadwell and girlfriend Amie Huguenard were killed by a bear in October 2003. About half the imagery in is Treadwell's own (the other half is Herzog's interviews with his subject's family, friends, and associates, as well as the medical examiner who dealt with the bodies). For the last five years of his life, Treadwell videotaped over 100 hours of "his" bears, as well as his own confessions, complaints, and sometimes ranting commentaries. During periodic returns to civilization, he campaigned for the bears' protection, visiting classrooms and Letterman, co-founding the foundation Grizzly People and co-writing with Jewel Palovak.