Chimpanzee (U)



Documentary (2012)
78mins Tanz/US

Starring: Tim Allen
Director: Mark Linfield, Alastair Fothergill
Writer(s): Mark Linfield, Don Hahn, Alastair Fothergill
Listings: London | Rest of UK and Ireland

Baby chimpanzee Oscar clings to his mother Isha for support in the jungles of Africa. They belong to a larger pack under the control of an experienced alpha male called Freddy, who is master of one fertile section of the forest. This domain is under constant threat from a rival band led by the merciless Scar. This posse raids a grove of fig trees on the eastern border of Freddy's domain. The incursion goes unnoticed so Scar and his team venture deeper into enemy territory.

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LondonNet Film Review
Chimpanzee

Shot over the course of four years in stifling conditions, Chimpanzee is a remarkable nature documentary that grants us unprecedented access to a family of apes in the jungles of Africa...

Chimpanzee. Walt Disney StudiosMark Linfield and Alastair Fothergill's beautiful film soars above and below the forest canopy to capture the animals in this lush habitat, which is being irrevocably altered by the effects of climate change. The cinematography is stunning on the big screen.

One slow-motion sequence captures a rainstorm in the forest. Raindrops plummet from the heavens, exploding on leaves and bulbous fungi, which expel plumes of spores into the atmosphere with each watery impact. Later in the film, darkness descends and the forest floor is magically lit by the soothing glow from the flora and fauna. Tim Allen provides light-hearted narration throughout the film that doubles as the apes' internal musings.

"It's a special day in this deep, dark forest..." he begins, introducing us to three month-old chimpanzee Oscar clinging to his mother Isha for support. They belong to a larger pack under the control of an experienced alpha male called Freddy. "He's large and in charge," continues Allen, explaining that Freddy is master of one fertile section of the forest, which is under constant threat from a rival band led by the merciless Scar. Early scenes witness Oscar and the other newborns at play, terrorising their exhausted parents and failing to get to grips with sticks and rocks that are vital tools for splitting open tasty nuts. "Please keep hands and feet clear of rocks at all times!" Allen instructs one youngster as he brings down a large stone squarely on his toes. "Ow!" Tension creeps into the narrative when Scar and his posse raid a grove of fig trees on the eastern border of Freddy's domain and the incursion goes unnoticed. Scar and co venture further into enemy territory, setting up a climactic showdown with Freddy.

Chimpanzee attests to the power of teamwork to overcome brute force, including harrowing sequences of the two clans locked in fierce combat. Individual personalities are accentuated by Allen's entertaining running commentary that brings a lump to the throat when tragedy strikes and little Oscar is left to fend for himself. The film-makers' dedication to capturing the breathtaking images becomes clear during the end credits when we are treated to behind-the-scenes footage of the crew fending off swarms of sweat bees or tripping over undergrowth in the pursuit of the chimpanzees. Linfield and Fothergill, colleagues from the BBC Natural History unit, who worked together on the series Planet Earth, remain cheerful throughout. Their passion for Mother Nature shines through in every frame.

- Kim Hu

Chimpanzee. Walt Disney Studios


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