Signing Chimpanzees

1 Apr

What happens when a bunch of 70s scientists take a baby chimp, give it to a human family and attempt to bring it up essentially as human? This is basically the story of James Marsh’s documentary film Project Nim. If you haven’t seen it, then I wholeheartedly recommend it. The chimp, named Nim Chimpsky, was to be the centre of a study to find out if chimps could acquire human sign language.  The film follows what happened to Nim as he was passed through a succession of mother figures to a rather tragic end. One of the things I liked most about the movie was the apparent honesty of the interviewees in their appraisal of what happened and their own roles in it all. It also raises some ethical questions about our relationship with other species and responsibility. I won’t ruin it by saying any more but it’s definitely one I’d recommend. Stick it on your DVD list!!!!!!

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