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Project Nim 2011 ***

Following on the back of his Oscar-winning Man On Wire, James Marsh chose to adapt Elisabeth Marsh’s book about the remarkable story of Mim Chimpsky, a chimpanzee raised by BYC academics as a human in the free-thinking 1970’s. Marsh shoots his interviews with an odd flourish, with the camera panning away as contributors finish their story. It’s a neat shorthand for the way in which Nim’s hosts continually let him down; after being raises as a man, the funding for the project was pulled, and poor Nim found himself ghetto-ed in zoo conditions, where he passed the time by teaching other chimps to talk using sign-language. Marsh’s documentary is a heart-rendingly sad story about man’s accidental cruelty to animals, with Nim’s predicament artfully outlined for maximum impact. Project Nim would make a good double bill with Rise of The Planet of the Apes; if Nim had went on to lead a revolution, it would have been no more than mankind deserved on this evidence.


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