10 Fascinating Facts About Grizzly Man

Lionsgate Entertainment
Lionsgate Entertainment

Nearly 10 years ago, Werner Herzog returned to nonfiction with a streak of documentaries focused on Tibetan Buddhism, aviation, the oldest art known to man, and people living in unique extremes. Grizzly Man, a film about amateur naturalist Timothy Treadwell’s life (and death) with bears, was at the center of this explosion of real-life stories.

Treadwell spent 13 summers living among the bears in Alaska’s Katmai National Park and Preserve, filming footage and styling himself as a rogue protector who could get close enough to the grizzlies to pet them. In 2003, he and girlfriend Amie Huguenard stayed past the summer into the pre-hibernation season. Eventually a bear mauled them both, leaving behind the footage and a lot of questions which Herzog mined for his film. Here are 10 things you might not know about Grizzly Man, which was co-shot by its subject.

1. A PAIR OF MISPLACED GLASSES LED WERNER HERZOG TO THE DIRECTOR'S CHAIR.

Timothy Treadwell in 'Grizzly Man' (2005)
Lionsgate Entertainment

The German auteur was in the office of Erik Nelson, who produces projects for National Geographic and Discovery, hunting through his pockets and a bunch of papers on Nelson’s table for his reading glasses when an article about Timothy Treadwell caught his eye. Nelson encouraged him to read it because they were going to make a movie about it.

"So I read it and immediately hurried back to his office, and I asked, 'Who is directing it?,'" Herzog told NPR. "And he said, 'I'm kind of directing it.'  And there was some sort of hesitation, and with my thick German accent I said, 'No, I will direct this movie.' And that was it. We shook hands and I made it."

2. TIMOTHY TREADWELL SPENT 35,000 HOURS WITH THE BEARS.

Many viewers were critical of Treadwell, particularly for familiarizing bears with a human presence in a way that could potentially lead them to lose their fear for both poachers and campers. However, noted bear expert Charlie Russell defended Treadwell, particularly his innate way of connecting with the bears and the dedication it took to spend 35,000 hours over 13 years with the animals.

3. TREADWELL WAS HOPING TO TURN HIS FOOTAGE INTO HIS OWN MOVIE.

Herzog started with 100-plus hours of footage Treadwell shot of his time in the park. Besides the enormous amount of film, it was all meticulously curated both in how it was shot and in what takes were kept. As Grizzly Man points out, “Treadwell” was a stage name for the aspiring actor who lost out on a role on Cheers (he claimed to come very close to landing the part of Woody Boyd) and captured his encounters with the bears as a nature documentary host. He released an hour-long edit of footage that Herzog saw during production but kept almost all of the footage within his circle of friends.

4. DAVID LETTERMAN JOKINGLY ASKED TREADWELL IF HE THOUGH HE'D BE KILLED BY A BEAR.

The only part of the documentary that was replaced or edited out was a segment of Late Show with David Letterman where the host pointed out the obvious: the risk Treadwell was taking. Treadwell responded that he wouldn't be killed by a bear, echoing an ironic sentiment at the beginning of the doc where he claims there’s no real danger of that happening.

5. HERZOG WAS SURPRISED BY THE INTENSITY OF TREADWELL’S FOOTAGE.

The director and his team went through the massive amount of footage Treadwell shot to transform 100-plus hours into a 103-minute documentary (and to plan their own footage and narration). Herzog found the intensity of the footage “unexpected.”

“It was always clear to me that it wouldn’t be a film on wild nature, that it would be much more a film on our nature,” Herzog told CHUD.com. “Treadwell is a very complex character full of doubts and self-aggrandization. Full of demons that haunt him and exhilarations and swings in mood, and seeing a mission that he finds himself into, and being almost paranoid for moments, and being very sane and very clear at others.”

6. HERZOG NEVER PLANNED TO USE THE FOOTAGE OF TIMOTHY AND AMIE’S DEATH.

It was known before Herzog made the documentary that Treadwell’s camera had captured audio of his and Huguenard’s deaths, so Herzog couldn’t avoid it. After filming himself listening to the footage in front of Treadwell’s friend Jewel Palovak, Herzog immediately decided that he wouldn’t use the footage itself in the film, both out of respect for the dead and to avoid making what he called “a snuff film.”

7. HERZOG REGRETS TELLING JEWEL PALOVAK TO DESTROY THE TAPE.

Director Werner Herzog conducts media interviews prior to the Lions Gate screening of 'Grizzly Man' at the American Museum of Natural History's LeFrak Theater July 20, 2005 in New York City
Paul Hawthorne, Getty Images

Herzog's gut reaction to listening to the audio was to tell Palovak to get rid of the tapes. “But that was stupid,” he later told Paste. “Silly advice born out of the immediate shock of hearing—I mean, it’s the most terrifying thing I’ve ever heard in my life.” Palovak placed it in a bank vault instead.

8. AMIE HUGUENARD’S FAMILY REFUSED TO TAKE PART IN THE FILM.

The documentary features interviews with Treadwell’s friends, but Huguenard’s family is noticeably missing. Their refusal wasn’t out of malice specifically to Herzog’s project, though. They decided not to speak publicly in any way about Amie’s death.

9. THE MOVIE ISN’T ABOUT BEARS BEING DANGEROUS.

The ultimate message of the movie is easy to miss because Treadwell’s death looms so largely—suggesting that he was wrong about bears being safe. Except even Herzog was intent on repeating how safe they are. “Sure, you are in a certain danger, but we should not exaggerate the danger,” Herzog said. “Grizzly bears normally do not kill and attack human beings. It doesn’t happen very often. Statistics are clear since 1903 or so, there were statistics in Alaska, and more than a hundred years, not more than 12 or 14 people got killed by grizzly bears.” Herzog’s point is that Treadwell wrongly believed that nature could be tamed.

10. TREADWELL’S FRIENDS THOUGHT HE COULD DIE IN ALASKA, BUT NOT BY BEAR ATTACK.

Herzog noted that Treadwell repeatedly broached a desire to die during a fight with a bear but didn’t think a bear would kill him. His friends thought he was safe with the bears, too. “I thought he might get hurt, fall on rocks and break something, drink tainted water, but I never believed he would be killed by the bears,” Palovak said.

8 Sequels That Received Oscar Nominations for Best Picture

Jasin Boland, Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.
Jasin Boland, Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

It’s rare when a movie sequel manages to stand up to the original entry in a film series. Even rarer? When a sequel is so good that it nabs an Oscars nomination for Best Picture. Here are eight movies that did just that.

1. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

When Mad Max: Fury Road was released in theaters in 2015, no one thought that it would be a critical darling—or an awards contender . But when the Academy Award nominations were announced in 2016, the latest entry in George Miller’s Mad Max franchise earned a whopping 10 nominations, including Best Picture and Best Director. Fury Road is the fourth installment in the series and was the first to hit theaters in 30 years (since the release of 1985’s Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome). It’s also the first movie in the franchise to receive any recognition from the Academy.

2. Toy Story 3 (2010)

A still from 'Toy Story 3' (2010)
Disney/Pixar

In 2011, Toy Story 3 was nominated for five Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Animated Feature. Though The King’s Speech ended up taking the night’s top prize, Toy Story 3 (which was named Best Animated Feature) made history that night, as it was the third ever animated movie to score a Best Picture nod; 1991’s Beauty and the Beast and 2009’s Up are the other two films to earn the same accolade.

3. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)

Although the first two installments in The Lord of the Rings trilogy—2001’s The Fellowship of the Ring and 2002’s The Two Towers—were each nominated for Best Picture, it was the final movie that ended up winning the Academy Award in 2004. In fact, The Return of the King won 11 Oscars that year, sweeping every category in which it was nominated, and tying Ben-Hur and Titanic for the most awards received in one night.

4. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)

In 2003, The Two Towers won two of the six Oscars for which it was nominated, for Best Sound Editing and Best Visual Effects. Rob Marshall’s musical Chicago beat it out for Best Picture.  

5. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter in 'The Silence of the Lambs' (1991)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

In 1992, The Silence of the Lambs made a clean sweep of the “Big Five” categories: Best Picture, Best Director for Jonathan Demme, Best Actor for Sir Anthony Hopkins, Best Actress for Jodie Foster, and Best Adapted Screenplay for Ted Tally. Although The Silence of the Lambs isn’t a direct sequel to Michael Mann’s 1986 film Manhunter, it’s based on the sequel novel to author Thomas Harris’s Red Dragon, on which Manhunter was based. It also features the character Hannibal Lecter in a major role, who was played by Brian Cox in Manhunter—before Hopkins made the role his own. Got that?

6. The Godfather: Part III (1990)

Though it’s often considered the far inferior film in The Godfather trilogy, The Godfather: Part III received seven Academy Award nominations in 1991, including Best Picture and Best Director for Francis Ford Coppola. Ultimately, it lost to Kevin Costner’s Dances with Wolves, making it the only installment in The Godfather Saga not to win a Best Picture Oscar.

7. The Godfather: Part II (1974)

Al Pacino in 'The Godfather: Part II' (1974)
Paramount Pictures

In 1975, The Godfather: Part II became the first sequel in Oscar history to win the Academy Award for Best Picture. It won the coveted award two years after the original film was named Best Picture. The sequel was nominated for a total of 11 Oscars, with three separate nominations in the Best Supporting Actor category alone: one for Michael Vincenzo Gazzo (who played Frankie Pentangeli) and Lee Strasberg (as Hyman Roth), and one for Robert De Niro, who took home the statuette for playing the younger version of Vito Corleone.

8. The Bells of St. Mary's (1945)

Though it lost Best Picture to Billy Wilder’s The Lost Weekend at the 1946 Oscars, The Bells of St. Mary’s is the first movie sequel to be nominated for the Academy’s biggest prize. The film is a sequel to Leo McCarey’s previous film, 1944’s Going My Way, which won the Oscar for Best Picture a year earlier. While Going My Way and The Bells of St. Mary’s feature different stories and casts, Bing Crosby stars in both movies as Father Chuck O'Malley.

An earlier version of this article ran in 2016.

James Cameron Directed Entourage's Aquaman, But He Could Never Direct the Real One

Tommaso Boddi, Getty Images for AMC
Tommaso Boddi, Getty Images for AMC

Oscar-winning director James Cameron is no stranger to CGI. With movies like Avatar under his belt, you’d expect Cameron to find a particular sort of enjoyment in special effects-heavy movies like James Wan's Aquaman. But Cameron—who directed the fictional version of Aquaman featuring fictional movie star Vinnie Chase in the very real HBO series Entourage—has a little trouble with suspension of disbelief.

In a recent interview with Yahoo!, Cameron said that while he did enjoy Aquaman, he would never have been able to direct the movie itself because of its lack of realism.

"I think it’s great fun,” Cameron said. “I never could have made that film, because it requires this kind of total dreamlike disconnection from any sense of physics or reality. People just kind of zoom around underwater, because they propel themselves mentally, I guess, I don’t know. But it’s cool! You buy it on its own terms.”

"I’ve spent thousands of hours underwater," the Titanic director went on to say. "While I can enjoy that film, I don’t resonate with it because it doesn’t look real.”

While Aquaman was shot on a soundstage, Cameron will be employing state-of-the-art technology that will allow him to actually be underwater while shooting underwater scenes for his upcoming Avatar sequels.

[h/t Yahoo!]

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