Phantom - You make nice analogies between both films in your posts. And you describe well what is is going on in "Wheel of Time." I agree that everyone is on the same wavelength --Herzog, you, me. In fact, while I was taking a walk yesterday it occured to me that Herzog leads us not just into the heart of Treadwell but to luminescent points of intellectual insight and spirituality in "Grizzly"--not just by vacariously watching others achieving this. The difference is the multiple dimensions used in "Grizzly:" intellectual --ecological and world-embracing; emotional--breaking through conventions, requiring change, discomfort and pain; the psychological pain of breaking away from stultifying social boundaries and modern human existence, Herzog's visual and structural pacing that leads us this way.
One could see throughout "Grizzly" that Treadwell was always heading in this direction. His so-called insanity is what insanity always is --extreme deviance and separation from society. He was no more insane than a sequestered religous is or anyone singlemindedly devoted to one cause to the exclusion of all else --at possible damage to himself and others. People like Treadwell or the man who prostrated himself 1,000 miles to get to the Buddhist festival are a product of any society; they are simply on its fringes, either accepted and venerated (as the extreme religious are) or decried and declared outlaw. Treadwell's delivery into the hands of death, almost of his own choosing, rather than face the claustrophobia and social oppresion of human society was a kind of manifestation of a Buddhist idea --the spiritual over the material. But the contrasting "dramas" of the two films and their impact on me was the difference between that of a hundred thousand tinkling bells and witnessing a volcano blow off.
A couple of points. That comment about Herzog not being that interested in making this movie is not my speculation. I got this from inkblot's comment. He said that Herzog said this at a Q&A after a screening of the film that he attended. While not saying he didn't develop more interest in the film as it progressed, I think this lack of involvement showed in the detached narration and relative lack of analysis in the movie. Your references to "Woodstock" are also very interesting and make a good analogy, especially for Americans of the Boomer generation, like myself. If you've ever been to a massive rock concert, you know the experience has not been replicated on film, but this one approaches it. However, the reason for being at the concert--the transporting nature of the music --is how an audience watching the movie can connect with those celebrants at Woodstock. To contrast with "Wheel of Time," were you content to just observe or did you become a participant, as I did with "Grizzly?" Sure, we can watch a film about the Kung Bushman of the Kalahari hunting, killing and sharing giraffe meat, but do you feel like you have been through what they went through? Do you become or really know Bushman? That's the difference between "Wheel" and "Grizzly" for me. If you have any part of Treadwell's love, enthusiasm, and yes, "childlike" behavior, in you, then you can go at least part-way with him on his journey. Those who dare not wander so far from the safe path of life do not understand his reaching for the ecstatic.
Good luck with the new semester. My guess is that you're going to UB, as I did in my first venture to college. It was there at the old campus center through the film society, and at the theatre downtown on Main Street (yes?) that I saw many excellent and still memorable films such as "The Harder They Come," "Lenin in Poland" and a Jimi Hendrix documentary.