By Tom Charity from LOVEFiLM
From the director of Man on Wire, Project Nim tells the story of a chimpanzee who was raised like a human child in the 1970s.
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Chimp 1 Humans zeroBy CulturalTalesofTwoCities (19 reviews) from Manchester , 23 Aug 2011
[Highly rated reviewer]The latest documentary from James Marsh, director of Man on Wire about daring high wire walking between the Twin Towers, is about a very different subject. Project Nim tells of a very strange and sad experiment that took place at Columbia University in New York in the 1970s.
Psychologist Herb Terrace was trying to see if he could get a primate to string a sentence together from its own thought process, rather than just mimicking human behaviour. And so he took a new born chimpanzee from its poor mother, who had also had her previous six babies removed from her immediately after birth for other experiments, and gave it to his ex girlfriend to rear as one of her children. This could only have happened in the 70s imagine if your ex boyfriend asked you to look after and breastfeed a chimp and treat it like a human child and without hesitation, or any real discussion with your husband or children, you said yes.... Thats what New Yorker Stephanie LaFarge did. And she treated Nim very sentimentally as one of her children too sentimentally really.
There were no boundaries or rules she even breastfed Nim. She was supposed to be treating him like a child its not clear from the film whether giving him alcohol and marijuana were activities her real children also engaged in, but Nim certainly did, and he liked them both quite a lot. There are very touching scenes with Nim playing happily with the family cats and other children. Then he is snatched away from the family he had developed strong bonds with, and taken to an empty mansion with a sign language teacher and Professor Herb to develop more strong bonds that would ultimately be broken and betrayed.
Hardly any of the humans involved in this doomed and very wrong project come out of it very well at all. Especially the creepy Frankenstein like Professor Herb, who seemed to end up sleeping with every female he came into contact with. Goodness knows what they saw in a guy with such a terrible comb over but theres no accounting for taste.
Nim learns to manipulate the humans to get what he wants via sign language and other means. But it is always the humans who are really firmly in control of this grotesque experiment. Nim was a very strong and powerful animal with the strength of five humans. No thought was given to the effect of the experiment on this beautiful life. This point is brought out very well by James Marsh in the film. It is ultimately a very sad tale, where a life is manipulated and played with; Nim is given a taste of human life, then relegated to an even worse reality than he started out with. And the purpose of the whole ghastly experiment to see whether Nim can make his own sentences is not proven either way so it was one very sad, bad, waste of time, and much more bedsides.
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Vintage video footage lovelyBy a customer , 31 Jul 2013Actually a heartbreaking story about how we humans, I presume under the assumption we are some kind of higher intelligence have totally tortured & wrecked a fun, friendly chimps life. Cried a lot. Amazing footage where young NIM is seen as a young human, makes his demise horrendous! I FIVE STARed it because it was interesting ut needs to be seen.
Dark and upsettingBy AJukes (1 review) , 22 Jul 2013
THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS Show review anywayHideI am so emotional and melancholic after watching NIM. So many humans out for their own agendas, no matter how sincere they were in the friendships they forms, NIM ultimately was starved of his own natural potential to fulfil the selfish and egotistical wants of a bunch of humans. I feel so sad that he was an innocent trafficked from one bunch of morons to another. His demise should be learnt from and NEVER repeated. I hope is soul is happy and at peace.
Thought provokingly sadBy a customer , 01 Jul 2013Heart wrenchingly, thought provoking, maddening, saddening, documentary. Hopefully I won't be around when the world changes to where they put us in cages and test on us.
Monkeying AroundBy manonfireuk (407 reviews) from Liverpool , 20 Jun 2013This is one of the saddest documentaries I have ever seen. Nim is used throughout his life, at one end of the scale as a science experiment and at the other end as a publicity stunt for a wildlife sanctuary, only for the owners to realise they know nothing about chimps, leaving him alone while they attend to the sanctuary's other occupants, the horses! The documentary is very well made and tells the story from all of those involved, some of whom realise their mistakes, some who still believe they were doing the right thing.
project nimBy a customer , 26 Feb 2013a true story about a chimp taken from his mother and taught to do sign language for scince project and treated like a child