The globe-trotting Werner Herzog digs up another of those border dwellers, those boundary pushers, he loves to document -- one Timothy Treadwell, b. 1957, d. 2003 -- along with a hundred or so hours of found footage, a treasure trove of video shot by the subject himself, mostly of himself, to record his years in the wilderness living among Alaskan bears, capped off with an audio recording of his own death, plus his girlfriend's death, at the paws of one of those bears. ("Capped off" might not be the way to put it: he evidently didn't have time to take the lens cap off the camcorder.) Herzog neatly organizes the material into a portrait of a man who at first glance seems simply an ecological eccentric, with more than a little presentiment of his fate ("They can kill, they can bite, they can decapitate"), but a man who, at a longer look, turns into something of a self-mythologizing monomaniac. The filmmaker, in his own footage, gathers testimony from those who knew the man ("He tended to want to become a bear"), and he captures at least a couple of priceless moments: the coroner handing over to one of Treadwell's former girlfriends the still-ticking wristwatch taken from his detached arm, and his mother reminiscing about him, in the comfort of her home in Florida, with his favorite teddy bear perched on her lap. Herzog is not shy about adding his own observations in his familiar feverish idiom and his expectorating delivery ("I discovered a film of human ecstasies and darkest inner turmoil"), nor about taking an editorial stance at variance with his subject: "I believe the common denominator of the universe is chaos, disharmony, and murder." Treadwell, in proof of Herzog's point, is in no condition to present a rebuttal to that. (2005) — Duncan Shepherd
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