Consider the following:
- What is Grizzly Man about?
- What was Herzog’s agenda or intention in making the documentary?
- Do we think the film is a truthful representation of the subject matter?
Complete this document with your initial ideas on the codes and conventions of Grizzly Man as a documentary as well as initial understanding of spectatorship.
Research the term Cinema Verite
When studying Grizzly Man as a documentary it is essential to understand the type of film maker that Herzog is and his views on the genre. Werner Herzog is one of the most influential and important documentary makers alive today.
Read his declarations of truth and fact in documentary cinema, entitled…
‘Lessons of Darkness’
- By dint of declaration the so-called Cinema Verité is devoid of verité. It reaches a merely superficial truth, the truth of accountants.
- One well-known representative of Cinema Verité declared publicly that truth can be easily found by taking a camera and trying to be honest. He resembles the night watchman at the Supreme Court who resents the amount of written law and legal procedures. “For me,” he says, “there should be only one single law; the bad guys should go to jail.”
- Unfortunately, he is part right, for most of the many, much of the time.
- Cinema Verité confounds fact and truth, and thus plows only stones. And yet, facts sometimes have a strange and bizarre power that makes their inherent truth seem unbelievable.
- Fact creates norms, and truth illumination.
- There are deeper strata of truth in cinema, and there is such a thing as poetic, ecstatic truth. It is mysterious and elusive, and can be reached only through fabrication and imagination and stylization.
- Filmmakers of Cinema Verité resemble tourists who take pictures of ancient ruins of facts.
- Tourism is sin, and travel on foot virtue.
- Each year at springtime scores of people on snowmobiles crash through the melting ice on the lakes of Minnesota and drown. Pressure is mounting on the new governor to pass a protective law. He, a former wrestler and bodyguard, has the only sage answer to this: “You can’t legislate stupidity.”
- The gauntlet is hereby thrown down.
- The moon is dull. Mother Nature doesn’t call, doesn’t speak to you, although a glacier eventually farts. And don’t you listen to the Song of Life?
- We ought to be grateful that the Universe out there knows no smile.
- Life in the oceans must be sheer hell. A vast, merciless hell of permanent and immediate danger. So much of hell that during evolution some species—including man—crawled, fled onto some small continents of solid land, where the Lessons of Darkness continue.
His fifth point is highlighted because here he makes an important distinction between fact and truth in documentary films?
In what way does this particular declaration inform his film making in Grizzly Man?
Read this review of Grizzly Man by the Roger Ebert.