Project Nim – Film Review

I just need one word to describe the documentary film Project Nim — devastating. Like a Greek tragedy, this film unspools with a rogue cast of characters who, in a failed science experiment, managed to play god, and fail in spectacular fashion. Director James Marsh (Man on Wire – 2008), delivers a compelling and heart-wrenching look at the 1970’s experiment, aimed at raising a chimp as a human child, using sign language to communicate. What follows is the abandonment of the original goal, based on a money shortage, or perhaps relationship problems between the researchers and the subsequent shuttling of the subject “Nim Chimpsky” from animal laboratory to rescue ranch.

Not for the faint at heart, this movie is tough to watch. Despite a few compelling and caring characters, Nim’s life was hijacked by self-centered, egomaniacal nut-jobs who come off as aloof and untouched by what role they had in destroying an animal’s life. Expertly constructed via still images, period media coverage and some well crafted

Project Nim is playing at the Loft Cinema starting August 5, 3233 E. Speedway Boulevard. For showtimes visits 795-7777.



About Herb Stratford

Arts and culture writer and film reviewer. Historic theatre restoration consultant. Artist and arts educator.
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