DVD Review: ‘Project Nim’ Powerfully Chronicles the Tragic Life of a Chimp

Chicago – James Marsh’s much talked-about documentary, “Project Nim,” is one of the saddest films of 2011, charting the mishandling of a chimpanzee by well-meaning but misguided humans. Nim Chimpsky was the simian subject of a widely publicized ’70s-era experiment created by Professor Herbert Terrace. His goal was to discover if a chimp could speak in complete sentences via sign language.

Just as Marsh’s 2008 Oscar-winner, “Man on Wire,” seamlessly blended archival footage and interviews with reenactments to create a narrative with the tone and pace of a thriller, the director applies the same cinematic style to “Nim.” The chimp’s life was so complicated that a linear plot line certainly makes the most sense. We meet the human subjects in the order that they came and went in Nim’s life and their on-camera testimonials are admirably honest but often infuriating.

DVD Rating: 4.5/5.0

After shooting his mother with a tranquilizer,
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