Project Nim Movie Review

Filmmaker Marsh follows up the amazing Man on Wire with another thoroughly gripping narrative documentary, this time telling the life story of a chimpanzee that was raised as a human. And as his story twists and turns, the film has a lot to say about humans too.

Born at an Oklahoma primate centre in 1973, Nim was taken from his mother after only a few days and sent to live with the LaFarge family in New York. Headed up by Columbia professor Terrace, the project aimed to test nature versus nurture, and to see if a chimp could communicate with humans using sign language. To better control the study, Nim moved into a more controlled environment with trainers Laura and Bill, who after a few years are horrified when Nim is sent back to Oklahoma to live in a cage for the first time in his life.

And Nim's story takes some more turns. At the primate centre, he finds friendship with the playful hippie Bob. But when money runs out, Nim is sold for medical experiments, an event that sparks a legal case before Nim moves to a farm for rescued horses. Through all of this, there are a handful of people who genuinely care about Nim's wellbeing, and they are powerless to protect him. He died in 2000 from a heart attack.

Hearing these people reminisce, it's clear that Nim made a huge impact on their lives. Some trainers became intensely close with him, both as teachers and playmates, and they never blame him when his violent impulses cause serious injuries. Intriguingly, Nim seemed to know that he was a chimp in a human world, learning quickly how to manipulate people, challenging men he saw as a threat and clearly grappling with his wilder instincts.

Marsh assembles this with a strong sense of Nim's life story, so we are gripped to the events as they happen. Remarkably, we experience much of this through Nim's eyes, even as the film refuses to humanise him. So in the end, the film asks some potent questions without ever moralising. Whether or not it was right for these scientists to study Nim, it's clear that the way we treat animals really needs to change.

Cast & Crew

Director :

Producer : Simon Chinn

Starring : Herbert Terrace, Stephanie LaFarge, Jenny Lee, Bob Ingersoll, Laura Petitto, Bill Tynan, Joyce Butler, James Mahoney

Comments

Project Nim Rating

" Excellent "

Rating: 15, 2011

Advertisement

Editors Recommendations

Dark Drama 'The Riot Club' Is Never Dull, But Lacks Bite

The Riot Club, formerly known as 'Posh' and based on Laura Wade's 2010 play...

Dark Drama 'The Riot Club' Is Never Dull, But Lacks Bite

Aphex Twin - Syro Album Review

If you're even remotely into electronic music, then you are more than likely to know who Aphex Twin is. After becoming...

Aphex Twin - Syro Album Review

Game of Thrones' Maisie Williams Set for Channel 4 'Cyber Bullying' Drama

Maisie Williams, best known for playing Arya Stark in HBO's Game of Thrones...

Game of Thrones' Maisie Williams Set for Channel 4 'Cyber Bullying' Drama

Reaper - Trailer

The Reaper (Mike Michaels) was formerly an ordained minister before embarking on a rampant killing spree with...

Reaper Trailer

Adam Duritz Of Counting Crows Talks Of Liberation, Fun And Childhood Fascinations

Counting Crows have delighted us with their first album release since...

Adam Duritz Of Counting Crows Talks Of Liberation, Fun And Childhood Fascinations

Ringo Deathstarr - Live Review

The Sabotage Club in Lisboa has all the trappings of the typical toilet circuit venue, if you were to disregard a decade...

Ringo Deathstarr supported by The Telescopes, NAAM,  11th September 2014, Lisboa Sabotage Club Live Review

'X-Men: Deadpool' Set For 2016, Ryan Reynolds Likely to Star

X-Men: Deadpool, a project that has long been in development for Twentieth...

'X-Men: Deadpool' Set For 2016, Ryan Reynolds Likely to Star

Ben Whishaw Lands Starring Role in BBC Thriller 'London Spy'

Ben Whishaw, the British actor who played Q in Skyfall and who portray the...

Ben Whishaw Lands Starring Role in BBC Thriller 'London Spy'

Dolly Parton - Blue Smoke: The Best of Dolly Parton Album Review

Dolly Parton is an international treasure - and a rare breed, at that. She is a...

Dolly Parton - Blue Smoke: The Best of Dolly Parton Album Review
Advertisement