Jane Goodall first arrived in Africa as a nervous girl, but she has spent the last 40 years becoming an expert on the behaviour of chimpanzees. Her turning point occurred in the 60s, when an infant chimp reached out and touched her face, seemingly in a gesture of curiosity. This chimp, Fifi, is now 43 years old and the matriarch of a large community in Gombe Stream National Park, Tanzania, of which Jane has become part.
Review by Lesley Chow:
As we all know, chimps have the ability to be smart, creative and kind - and when they're not, Jane Goodall doesn't put up with them. Watching this woman in a forest of wild chimpanzees is like seeing Deborah Kerr with a horde of diverse, gifted children. This British scientist has little time for animals who are selfish and graceless - like the big male who constantly spoils the fun, and demands small gestures of appeasement from the others. Courage, generosity and, especially, imagination are what she looks for in creatures - and for the most part, that's what we see.
These chimps wear intelligent and nonchalant expressions while performing complex tasks; they sprint up and down trees on feet which look like elongated human hands. They also have a witty and almost camp sense of play: one swings out of another's grasp, after bluffing a violent move. Just as amusing is the attitude of Goodall, who identifies herself as a "pale-faced ape" - as well as a grown-up version of Tarzan's Jane, who stayed in the jungle for more adventures.
This is one IMAX film that doesn't overdo the narration or the drama, but it's also a pretty laid-back documentary which could be watched on TV - it doesn't have the movie-making excitement of, say, Deep Sea 3D. One effect producers shouldn't be afraid of is the zoom: we don't need an excuse to get close to this amazing scenery. IMAX audiences are rarely jaded when it comes to thrills - for instance, diving headfirst into a valley. So why not plunge into a forest, a cascade, or the spectacular Gombe River - as it is there.
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WILD CHIMPANZEES (G)
CAST: Documentary with Jane Goodall
NARRATION: Jane Goodall, Marc Strange
PRODUCER: David Lickley
DIRECTOR: David Lickley
SCRIPT: Stephen Low
CINEMATOGRAPHER: James Neihouse, Reed Smoot
EDITOR: James Lahti
MUSIC: Amin Bhatia
PRODUCTION DESIGN: n/a
RUNNING TIME: 42 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: IMAX
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: Melbourne: July 25, 2006