Overview: PROJECT NIM tells the story of the chimpanzee that was the focus of a landmark experiment to show that an ape could learn to communicate with language if raised and nurtured like a human child. Combining recent testimony from key participants with dramatic imagery and newly discovered archival film from the 1970s, the feature documentary follows Nim’s extraordinary journey through human society, chronicling his enduring impact on the people he meets.
Expectations: This is a topic that highly interests me. Over the Holiday week I will seek this documentary film out, probably on HBOGO, and weigh in on my thoughts. I suspect I will fall in love with Nim and take up the debate that I believe the documentary wishes audiences to engage in.
That debate is on the topic of whether a wild animal should be treated as a scientific experiment and given a life not normal for it. The issue becomes more sensitive when a charismatic, intelligent primate is the subject. Nim lives a life of experimentation, social exercise, and sign language lessons that seem beneficial at first. I expect, in the end, this piece will leave me asking many questions and, hopefully they will not go unanswered, as this documentary takes me through this extraordinary chimp’s life.
Gut Reaction: This is only the second documentary I viewed this year that left me thinking about it for days afterwards. The thoughts and emotions that surfaced roil within. To me, that is what draws me to HBO Documentary Films; to get an opportunity to soul search, to be impacted, to maybe change. I was moved by the story of Nim.
I am a lover of both science and nature. I was not a lover, however, of the science shown in this documentary. I wish this experimentation would have never happened. At the same time I realize the film needed a villain in the piece. I remember as a child wanting to have a chimp as a pet and have since learned and had reinforced by this film that that was a foolish notion. I have also reaffirmed through this piece that life, even an animals, is of value. We cannot change natural instinct. Is it abuse or scientific advancement? Must we have animal testing? Do humans ever think ahead of how their actions impact other lives? Humans have a tendency to anthropomorphize to extreme.
Thoughts like those above were mulled over in my mind as this documentary played and still do. In the end I feel an injustice was brought upon this animal and sadly such injustices continue to happen. Yes, I’m soft-hearted when it comes to animals. I do not have the subjective and analytical mindset of the scientists seen onscreen in this picture. And I have to admit that I am not opening up all the ramifications, and issues this documentary opened up for me. Though it tells the basic story of the scientific project it invokes so many questions, theories and feelings I just don’t have the space to convey it all. I’ll let you explore all that for yourselves if you decide to watch. Hopefully, you will come back here and give us your thoughts.
You know, I haven’t had a great number of comments about the Documentary posts I have presented this year on HBOWatch but if I can recommend one that can grip you I have to say it is this one. The way it was shot and presented was uniquely done and the story was clearly told. See PROJECT NIM.
In Conclusion: I thank PROJECT NIM producer Simon Chinn, director James Marsh and Sheila Nevins and HBO for bringing this film to us…and, what the hell, I thank you too Nim.
Additional playdates are as follows: 12.28 at 2:45pm, & 01.01 at 11:55pm, 01.06 at 12:30pm, 01.09 at 10:30am and 01.14 at 3:45 pm. HBO2 playdates: 01.02 at 8:00 pm, 01.22 at 1:00pm & 01.28 at 12:45 pm. & 12:35 am. Also find it at HBOGo and HBO ON DEMAND.