“Chimpanzee,” a documentary film about a young chimpanzee in heart of the African jungle, is the latest work of genius from Disney Nature. Focusing on the life of 3-year-old Oscar, the newest addition to one of the strongest chimp groups in the area, the filmmakers tell the story of young life and new families. Visually stunning, this film provides an in-depth look at jungle life, a mysterious world to most.
Narrated by Tim Allen, the movie incorporates humor, sadness, survival and joy, the full spectrum of human and chimp emotion. Perhaps the most poignant part of this story includes the similarities between human and chimp behaviors. For example, as an audience, we feel Oscar’s pain when he is abandoned by his mother and rejected by his female peers.
It is through an odd connection made between the young Oscar and the head chimp, Freddy, that Oscar’s life is spared. Without the protection of Freddy the foster parent, Oscar would have been left without necessary survival skills such as self-protection and gathering food.
This movie also makes clear the force exhibited by a chimpanzee. Collectively, the group is capable of hunting other monkeys, fighting off other territorial chimp groups and climbing high into the trees — clearly not a group you want to fight. This is a strength of the film because it focuses on the size and potential danger that people are exposed to around chimps. While Oscar is small and cuddly, Freddy is powerful and potentially dangerous. These are assets in the jungle but not so much in the suburbs. Remember Charla Nash, whose face was ripped off by her neighbor’s pet chimp? The juxtaposition of Oscar and Freddy reflect the opposite nature of the small and cuddly baby chimp stereotype and the true strength and size of a fully grown chimp.
Directed by Alastair Fothergill and Mark Linfield, “Chimpanzee” provides visuals that are beautiful, meticulous and, at times, breathtaking. It took the filmmakers a total of 700 days to gather all the footage necessary to complete the story, and those 700 days were not an easy feat. The filmmakers had to keep a distance of 23 feet away from the stars of the film at all times and had to travel a total of two days just to reach Oscar’s tribe. Along with that, the filmmakers had to spend eight days in quarantine in order to keep the chimps disease-free.
While the movie was comprehensive, exploring all elements of chimp living such as food, shelter and family structure, it did not seem like the typical length of a movie. At 78 minutes long, this film could make it easy for family and young child viewing.
“Chimpanzee” hit theaters April 20, and it’s important that you go the first week. Twenty cents from every ticket purchased within that week of sales go to the Jane Goodall Institute for the “See ‘Chimpanzee,’ Save Chimpanzees” conservation program, which aims to help orphaned chimps and educate humans about these mammals. A trip to see “Chimpanzee” will give you a unique and fun look at a world untouched and the African jungle kingdom.