Written and Directed by Brett Morgen
Music by Philip Glass
Oscar®-and Emmy®-nominated director Brett Morgen, described as the leading revolutionary of American documentary film by The Wall Street Journal, uses a trove of 16mm footage rediscovered in 2014 from the National Geographic archives to shed fresh light on world-changing conservationist Jane Goodall, founder of the Jane Goodall Institute and U.N. Messenger of Peace. An animal lover since childhood, the 26-year-old British woman arrives in Tanzanias Gombe wilderness in 1960 to live among the chimpanzees and study their behavior. The rare woman in a male-dominated field, Goodall has no scientific training. What she does possess are binoculars, monumental patience and a keen eye for details, which she meticulously records in her notebook.
Unaware of traditional research protocol, Goodall personalizes her studies by forming an emotional bond with her subjects, allowing her to gain their trust. She makes an astonishing discovery when she observes one of the chimps, whom she calls David Greybeard, using a twig to unearth ants from underground colonies. She telegrams her observations to her mentor, famed paleontologist Louis Leakey, and subsequently makes headlines around the world as the woman who proves that the use of tools extends beyond the human species to other primates.
In 1962, Dutch nature filmmaker Hugo van Lawick is sent by National Geographic to document Goodall in action on 16mm film. Cinematographer and subject fall in love, marry in 1964 and move to the Serengeti plains region so van Lawick can film lions while Goodall raises their baby, nicknamed Grub.
After setting up an ongoing research station and years of co-habitating with the chimps at Gombe, Goodall is crushed when an outbreak of polio, believed to be caused by human contact in another region of Africa, invades her beloved troop. Not long after, she is shocked to see another side of the primates, whose violent rampages culminate in a murderous war, further decimating the population. Goodall emerges from professional and personal travails, including her 1974 divorce from van Lawick, determined to protect the chimpanzees and their habitat. Drawing on van Lawicks stunning wildlife footage and exclusive interviews with Goodall, as well as research footage from the Jane Goodall Institute and Goodall family videos, Morgen offers an unprecedented, intimate portrait of a trailblazing woman who survived dark times to become one of the worlds most admired conservationists.
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