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BMZ Review: Jane Goodall's Wild Chimpanzees
By Ross Anthony


A Chimp of the Old Block
Written by: Ross Anthony
Source: Ross Anthony's Hollywood Report Card
Date: January 2003


Category: Reviews

The film 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.  We see her 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, with 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 are 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 do remember my cat and dog having some fun on the sofa together back when I was growing up. 

The filmmakers then manufacture a computer-generated tree, draping it with monkeys of various species to explain their relationships. It's actually quite eerie and at the very least colorful.

Next, a juicy segment on primate culture plays somewhat short. It’s fascinating to see that groups of the same species have slightly different ways of doing things based on the areas in which they grew up in. This segment could have easily been expanded.

After this, the entertainment gave 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 of it.


Narrated by Jane Goodall.
Directed by David Lickley.
Distributed by the Science Museum of Minnesota (c) 2002.

Copyright (C) 2003. 
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:

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