Monday, 8 August 2011


It was once said that fact is stranger than fiction. There are documentaries that, if you didn't know it was based on fact, you'd swear it was made up with the way the story roller coasters.

After the successful (and rightly so) Man On Wire, director Marsh turns his lens on the story of an experiment from 1973 - one that is as shockingly relevant now as it should have been back then.

With its timing of release seemingly tongue-in-cheek alongside The Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes, Marsh's documentary shows the true horrific scope of what it would actually mean to try and adapt man's closest living relative to a level where both could communicate with each other successfully.

Even though the experiment took place 38 years ago, you'll find yourself becoming more surprised and shocked as the story unfolds at how something could have not only begun but continued the way it did. You'll find that you will wonder whether you're watching the foolish naivety of a mankind or the idiotic arrogance of a man. The worrying thing is you find yourself leaning towards the arrogance side especially when the movement of Nim from environment to environment due to experiment instigator Herbert Terrace's unhappiness with the results.

As the chimp is moved from his "home" where he's treated as one of the children through to the empty mansion where constant learning is pushed to gather more conclusive results, you wonder where any common sense is and where any compassion is. More so at the end where Nim is left to animal experimentation. However, there is some semblance of humanity in one of the last people to interact with the chimp who becomes a champion on his behalf - Bob Ingersoll - who refuses to let Nim slip away under experimentation.

Both interesting and distressing, this is a reminder that man has great potential but can sometimes totally screw it up by concentrating on the potential rather than the consequences.

UK release date: 12.08.11
Certificate: 12A

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