Directed by Alastair Fothergill and Mark Linfield
“Chimpanzee” is rated G.
But “Chimpanzee” also shows the wild side of the animals, too. You see two troops of chimps viciously battle for territory. You see the chimps conduct a coordinated attack to hunt and kill a monkey for food. It’s actually a bit shocking to see them tear apart the monkey and eat it. It’s not the cute and cuddly side we’re used to seeing in other parts of the movie. As the film progresses, you get a sense that you’re getting a real picture of the life of the animal, not just a sanitized Disney version.
As the movie progresses, you start to wonder how the filmmakers got all of these amazing and intimate shots. They manage to get extreme close-up shots of their hands, feet, and faces. They get amazing footage of the baby chimps playing like human children. You start to get a real sense of the personalities of the animals and you wonder just how long it took them to pull this off and just how much of it was staged. But a ‘making of’ featurette during the credits gives you a real appreciation of what the creators went through to get the footage and you also realize there wasn’t as much staged as you might think.
I also have to say I was impressed with how they handled the material. I fully expected them to show humans capturing and killing chimps and showing footage of the rain forest being chopped down. I was prepared for damnation of mankind, vut thats not what this movie is about. It’s about taking a snapshot of chimpanzee life in the wild (or at least life when they’ve grown accustomed to human voyeurs). I actually found that more appealing because you become emotionally invested in the animals and thus more interested in seeing them protected without being beaten over the head with the environmental message.
I took my boys to this movie and they were totally entranced by it. They of course loved the monkey eating scene and, in the end, actually learned something about chimpanzees that they didnt know before. And long after we left the theater, my youngest son asked me, “Do you think Oscar ended up leading the family?” That really struck me because he ended up caring about what happened to the chimps outside of the film. That, I think, is the most important thing “Chimpanzee” could accomplish.
What Didn’t Work:
The Bottom Line: