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Project Nim


James Marsh


95 Minutes


Certificate 12



From the OSCAR-winning team behind MAN ON WIRE comes the story of Nim, a Chimp taken away from his mother to become the focus of a landmark experiment.  The film follows Nim’s extraordinary journey in what is at times a funny, revealing and a profoundly unsettling story that really needs to be seen…..



Let me tell you something.  You can spend all the money you want on the new CGI effects and the next big explosion, damn you can even spend $20m Dollars to get some highly rated actor to star in your film, but despite all the money lavished at your “project”, I very much doubt it will have the heart and emotion of this little beauty.

I have to be honest and say that I never even fancied watching this film.  Why would I want to sit there for 95 minutes to watch a true life documentary about an ape who was raised as a human child.  I mean for most people if it was a choice between the next latest blockbuster or this small funded film then there would be no debate and I am ashamed to say its taken me a while to even think of watching NIM and his life story.  Having just watched it and with tears still in my eyes, I have to be honest with you and say that I am struggling to write this review simply because the emotions that are running through my body.

James Marsh follows up with his excellent Man On Wire to tell us the story of an experiment that started way back in 1973.  Its about a chimp who is taken from his mother and placed in the care of Stephanie LaFarge in the hope that the now called Nim can grow to be more human than animal.  This study was the brainchild of Columbia University behavioural psychologist Herb Terrace who just happened to be the ex lover of LarFarge.  

We watch from archived footage with some moments of reconstruction, this chimp grow in front of our eyes.  At first playful and loving and totally dependant on the company of Humans its the opening half that will fool you into thinking that what you are watching is a unique experiment.  But like all good stories that need to told, the ugly side starts to emerge.  NIM is soon moved away from the house that he loves and moves to another place where somewhere else becomes his new parents and the same thing happens again and again….and again……until of course Herb the man who created this project decides enough is enough.


With Nim now older and stronger with feelings of neglect and abandonment, he is put back into the place where he was born even though he has never seen another chimp before, the plight of this poor animal is heartbreaking stuff and it all plays right in front of our eyes.  Yes the film does show the ugly side of us humans and its not a nice think to see.  Herb the brainchild of all this clearly does not give a rat arse about this animal and only for his project and its sadden to see especially when we see him only bothering with the animal when the camera’s are around.

Thank feck then for Bob who is the film’s hero, a man who Nim meets in later life and becomes without question the guy who at least wants what is best for this loving chimp.

With everyone who carried such a pivotal role in his life back on camera and talking about their experience its now long before you the viewer feel rage at what some are saying, “Nim is not a toy!” you love to scream at the TV and its at that moment you realise that this film has sucked you in and its such a compelling watch that its hard to shake it out of your system.  One scene in particular had my wife actually leave the room in tears and refused to come in until the film had finished, such is the powerful vibe you get from watching.

Project Nim is a film that took me by deep surprise.  It made me laugh and feel happy before making me sad and then cry, its a totally spellbinding story that needs to be seen by everyone and while 2011 was all about one APE and how he takes over the world, Project Nim shows just why those Apes are so damn mad at us.

I doubt I see another film this year that moves me like this has….

                                                                                   Rating: ★★★★½


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About Ross Hughes 524 Articles
Since my mother sat me down at the age of five years of age and watched a little called Halloween, I have been hooked on horror. There is no other genre that gets me excited and takes me to the edge of entertainment. I watch everything from old, new, to cheap and blockbusters, but I promise all my readers that I will always give an honest opinion, and I hope whoever reads this review section, will find a film that they too can love as much as I do! Have fun reading, and please DO HAVE NIGHTMARES!!!!!!

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