Sample Essay on Grizzly Man


Grizzly Man

Filmmaking, also known as film production, is the process of making a film, and it involves several discrete stages such as an initial story, idea, screenwriting, casting, shooting, editing, sound recording and reproduction, screening the finished product, and exhibition.  Every filmmaking process should consider ethical or moral perspectives such as the effect of the film itself on actors or characters and other stakeholders.  People involved in filmmaking, especially actors expose their lives to the directors and producers. Therefore, it is a responsibility of film directors and producers to consider the impact of their films on those involved with the aim of reducing harm or possible fatality. Creating a balance between authenticity and protecting the rights of an actor is imperative. Other than preventing possible harm to actors, the film directors and producers should work to enhance actors’ awareness of how the film will be used and how the actors themselves will be represented in the process.

Taking into consideration ethical concerns in filmmaking helps in the reduction of adverse impacts on actors and other people involved in the entire process. In some cases, a film can be manipulated, and this can be detrimental to the actors’ reputation. Thus, it is important to make actors aware of how they will be presented in the entire film. Filmmaking involves people exploring perspectives in new or foreign places, and this is where protection of their rights becomes important and should be prioritized. Morality or ethics dictates that people should carry out activities while prioritizing the possible impacts of the same on others. From the filmmaking perspective, it is important for every person involved in the process to give priority to the safety and security of others by preventing their encounter with dangerous situations. Actors often find themselves exposed to danger and other difficulties that result in physical injuries or death. In achieving the objective of protecting actors and other personnel involved in filmmaking, directors, producers, and other stakeholders should consider who to recruit as actors, the screening process, and how those involved will be portrayed to the public. Of course, the involvement or participation of actors in specific scenes is dependent on their personality and belief without which harm or death is inevitable. As such, it is important for film directors, producers, and others overseeing the process to understand the impacts or effects of their decisions. They should aim at ensuring that no harm is caused to the characters and other people involved and try to portray them in the best possible way. Best portrayal may include avoiding the use of a single person or character in representing an issue in an entire community.

“Grizzly Man” talks about a Treadwell’s experience and adventure with wildlife. In the documentary, the director’s exploitation of the character (Treadwell) is evident. Other than exploitation, Herzog gives false information about Treadwell’s experiences, which is one of the indications of the documentary’s lack of morality as well as the sinister motives behind its production. Treadwell and his girlfriend are physically injured and killed by a bear, and Herzog, the director of the documentary, fails to pass his judgment regarding this action. Several viewers and critics of the documentary express their disgust over what they feel as overexploitation and manipulation by the tactics of Herzog in the documentary.  There is no doubt that Herzog does not trust his work as indicated by the inaccuracies presented in the documentary. Also, Herzog and his interviewee can be criticized for over-narration and failure to allow the footage of Treadwell to deliver the intended message without interference. Ultimately, Herzog uses the footage of Treadwell in the creation of a character with idealistic and naive views about nature without the latter’s knowledge or approval (White 1).

Throughout the film, Herzog focuses on dialogue and Treadwell’s physical appearance as seen in the footage. Herzog’s documentary further depicts Treadwell as an immature person although he later portrays him as a person with knowledge of the imminent danger. There is evidence that the documentary gives insight into several perspectives such as ideological differences between Herzog and Treadwell. These differences are seen in Treadwell’s careful approach to life and his secretive nature and Herzog’s exposition of the former’s secretive life (White 1).

Further exploitation of the character in the film is evident where Treadwell is seen crying and cursing because of the irresponsible killing of wild animals such as foxes. Later in the film, Herzog’s lack of ethics is evident as he concentrates on disclosing Treadwell’s private life and the consequences of his actions. Herzog portrays Treadwell as a less fortunate individual with myriads of challenges in life including being brought up in a middle-class neighborhood and having to deal with other social problems such as drug use and alcoholism (Dewberry 3). Herzog portrays Treadwell as a failed character who later changed his name and identity while describing himself as an orphan. Herzog believes that Treadwell was always selfish and often turned the camera on himself without minding the consequences of his actions such as possible depression among his family members and friends.

Herzog’s documentary is largely a negative exposure of Treadwell’s endeavors and life in entirety, which are false in the real sense. From this perspective, Herzog’s documentary highlights a lack of morality that dictates portrayal of people the way they are rather than giving false information or images of them (Dewberry 5). In fact, viewers of the documentary tend to celebrate Treadwell while overlooking Herzog’s negative portrayal of him. In Herzog’s narration of events, he does not allow or provide the opportunity for viewers to have a glance of Treadwell’s photographs throughout his adventure, and this raises concerns and doubts on Herzog’s motive of producing the film.

It cannot be doubted that Herzog’s documentary of Treadwell’s activities and adventure is unrealistic, falsified, and unethical. Herzog is guilty of spreading myths and false information as well as focusing more on Treadwell’s miseries rather than the good and happy moments of his life (Dewberry 9). Before his encounter with death, Treadwell dreamed of keeping off others from his activities, an objective he was to achieve by remaining secretive on the presence of Hunguenard to maintain the illusion that he was working alone in Alaska. Unfortunately, Herzog focuses more on Treadwell’s secrecies, which reveals the documentary’s lack of morality. On the other hand, Herzog’s sinister motive is evident when he denies viewers the tape and allows himself and medical examiners to interpret the events surrounding Treadwell’s life. Herzog gives a false image or portrayal of Treadwell, which, underscores the lack of morality in the documentary. The fact that the documentary gives compromising information or details of Treadwell’s activities raises concerns on how his eventual death should be regarded by viewers

Works Cited

Dewberry, Eric. “Conceiving Grizzly Man through the ‘Powers of the False.’.” (2008): 1-12.

White, John. H. “On Werner Herzog’s documentary Grizzly Man: Psychoanalysis, nature, and meaning.” Fast Capitalism 4.1 (2008).