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Project Nim (2011)

Director: James Marsh
    see all cast/crew...
Studio: Lionsgate
Running Time: 93 min.

The story of Nim, the chimpanzee who in the 1970s became the focus of a landmark experiment which aimed to show that an ape could learn to communicate with language if raised and nurtured like a human child. Following Nim's extraordinary journey through human society, and the enduring impact he makes on the people he meets along the way, the film is an unflinching and unsentimental biography of an animal we tried to make human. What we learn about his true nature - and indeed our own - is comic, revealing and profoundly unsettling.

GreenCine Member Reviews

Humans Suck by jmwagner66 June 15, 2012 - 11:30 AM PDT
I'm an anthropologist. I've known of Nim Chimpsky (yes, his name is a play on "Noam Chomsky") and the questionable ethics of those who handled, trained, and "owned" him through the years. This film further confirms the horror with the full life story of Nim, available also in the book "Nim Chimpsky: The Chimp Who Would Be Human" by Elizabeth Hess. Nim's treatment roughly parallels that of Genie's treatment. Genie is the pseudonym of a young girl kept isolated even from family members in an abusive home. When "discovered" her life was taken over by academic who dumped her in the foster system when she no longer served their needs.

Despite the tragic subject matter, this is a beautiful film. The filmmakers are familiar to you from "Man on Wire" and do just as well on this effort. Their access to and use of archival footage is amazing. They include some reconstructed scenes which may bother purests, but these scenes largely don't detract from the message of the film though they occasionally are distracting if one is very familiar with chimp morphology.

This is overall a wonderful film and would make an excellent double feature with "Mockingbird Don't Sing," the film account of Genie's life. Both are excellent examples of troubling ethics in anthropological, linguistic, and psychological research on human and non-human primates.

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 8.67)
9 Votes
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