Chimpanzee is the latest release from Disney’s educational/nature side project, Disneynature. Made over the course of four years in the Taï National Park by Alastair Fothergill and Mark Linfield it follows the early life of a young chimp living with his Mother in a close knitted group of Primates.
The cinematography of the jungle is incredible, shot with handheld cameras, you are up close and personal with the chimps. Also amazing are the sounds, and it’s one occasion when surround sound and HD do enhance the experience, the rich green and brown textures of the Park are stunning.
Similar to programmes such as ‘Meerkat Manor’ the documentary is enhanced by a relaxed, but interesting narrative commentary (by Tim Allen) that allows for a creatively interpreted storyline to guide you through.
The young chimp is called Oscar(ahh), and we see him grow and play in an environment that is as hostile as it is beautiful. There are tough lessons to be learned and failing to do so can be a matter of life and death.
Like all good Hollywood thrillers there is a bad guy, and in this movie there is a whole gang of them. I wondered if the group of neighbouring chimpanzees really were actually any more evil than Oscars gang, but they were. Just to prove it their leader had a tough name too, Scar (personally I thought he looked more like a Gerald). Looking to expand their territory, they terrorise Oscar’s family with tragic results.
Chimpanzee is aimed squarely at a family audience so we’re spared some of the more graphic and brutal details of chimp life. the pack hunting of monkeys is seen, but thankfully through rose-tinted glasses. I hope I’m not spoiling it by saying there is a happy ending, and while Oscar’s future is not assured it takes an unusual but positive twist.
If you have young kids and love nature documentaries go and see this film, it will open their minds and they will love the cute chimps. As the credits roll you get a glimpse of some of the lengths the film crew went to in order to make the film and if they made a movie about that too, it definitely looks worth a watch too.. hopefully it will be a DVD extra?
The only strange thing about the movie was that when I came out of the cinema I was dying for a cup of tea. PG Tips anyone?
Chimpanzee is out in UK cinemas now