A Chimp of the Old Block
Jane Goodall's Wild Chimpanzees
Review by Ross Anthony

Opens with some sweet, warmly mixed African music and old sepia footage of a young Jane in the early days of her Tanzanian Chimp observation. Sadly as she says, early on, they hid from her, so there was nothing much to observe, "Sitting still, contemplating failure." Finally, one day, the baby Chimp Fifi came right up and put its finger to her nose ... it's a wonderful shot even in grainy 16mm blown up on the big screen. Very touching (no pun intended).

From here, Jane Goodall narrating, we learn of her observations. How the males are nasty, the females protective and the kids -- well as fun as a barrel of monkeys. All of the images are interesting, though several off-focus, the best are of young chimps at play.

Baboons are also given some screentime. Interestingly enough, Chimps and baboons are supposedly among the rare instances of different species playing together. Although, I remember my cat and dog having some fun on the sofa together back when I was growing up.

Then the filmmakers manufacture a computer genterated tree, draping it with monkeys of various species to explain their relations. It's actually quite eerie and at the very least colorful.

Then a juicy segment on primate culture plays somewhat short. Fascinating, groups of the same species have slightly different ways of doing things based on the area they grew up in. This segment could have easily been expanded.

After which the entertainment gives way to advertisement for Jane's causes and I kind of faded out.

Overall, interesting as a documentary (save for the head-on propaganda) -- but not very Imaxy. I think it'd be just as entertaining as a video. So, a weak B+ on the big screen and a strong one off it.

  • Jane Goodall's Wild Chimpanzees. Copyright © 2002.
  • Narrated by Jane Goodall.
  • Directed by David Lickley.
  • Distributed by the Science Museum of Minnesota.


Copyright © 2001. Ross Anthony, currently based in Los Angeles, has scripted and shot documentaries, music videos, and shorts in 35 countries across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. For more reviews visit: RossAnthony.com

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Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 08:07:03 PDT