Jane Goodall: Disneynature gets it right with 'Chimpanzee'

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by Catherine Holland

azfamily.com

Posted on April 19, 2012 at 10:45 AM

Updated Wednesday, Apr 18 at 11:13 AM

PHOENIX -- Disneynature's "Chimpanzee," the story of an orphaned baby chimp named Oscar who is adopted and raised by a male chimp, opens this weekend, just in time for Earth Day.

Perhaps nobody in the world knows chimpanzees better preeminent primatologist Dr. Jane Goodall. Her ground-breaking work has redefined the relationship between humans and animals, and she gives "Chimpanzee" her whole-hearted approval.
(Watch the "Chimpanzee" trailer)

"Disneynature is totally accurate in all its films," Goodall said. "This one is not only accurate, but it actually captures an extraordinary story."

Goodall's research, which dates back to the '60s, yielded some stunning discoveries, including the fact that "chimpanzees are more like us than anything else."

Watching the family interactions in "Chimpanzee," that truth couldn't be clearer.

"We see into the lives of these chimpanzees deep in the heart of the forest," she continued. "It's a wonderful film that I think is really, really going to help us our battle to save chimpanzees in Africa."

Goodall calls chimpanzees "endlessly fascinating."

"Their biology, their behavior, the way their minds work, their emotions, their personalities -- in all these ways, they resemble us so very closely," she said. "Even after 53 years that we've been studying chimps in Gombe, we're still learning completely new things because they're all individual and they all have their own individual life stories."

It's Oscar's life story that's at the heart of Disneynature's "Chimpanzee."

"The amazing thing about this film is that this extraordinary event actually happened when there was a film team -- an amazing film team -- out there filming," Goodall said. "What are the odds against that?"

The movie was filmed entirely in the wild -- the Tai Forest of the Ivory Coast.

"Because this is a movie with a really strong story, we had to spend over 700 days in the field over three and a half years to capture all the wonderful elements of Oscar's life and all the things that happen to him" said director Alastair Fothergill ("African Cats," "Earth").

"Chimpanzee" opens this Friday nationwide. If you see the film in its first week (April 20-26), Disneynature will donate 20 cents per ticket to the Jane Goodall Institute to help protect chimpanzees, which includes protecting their habitat, caring for orphaned chimps, and teaching school-age children about chimps and their important place in the world.

"Chimpanzee" trailer

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