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From: Mark Leeper <mleeper@optonline.net>
Subject: Review: Jane (2017)
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Date: Wed, 22 Nov 2017 11:47:09 -0800 (PST)
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Subject: Review: Jane (2017)
From: Mark Leeper <mleeper@optonline.net>
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               (a film review by Mark R. Leeper)

    CAPSULE: This biography of Jane Goodall shows us how 
    she has changed our definition of what is and is not 
    human by her in-depth (and continuing) study of 
    chimpanzee behavior.  The film is a feast for the eye 
    with its beautiful animal photography.  Just how these 
    images became part of the film is actually part of the 
    story.  This is certainly one of the year's best 
    documentaries.  Rating: +3 (-4 to +4) or 9/10

JANE is a biographical documentary about the life of Jane Goodall 
and her study of chimpanzee behavior in the wild.  Perhaps the 
first real wonder of the film is that it could be made like this at 
all.  There must have been somewhere a tremendous trove of film of 
Goodall in the wild.  My first reaction on seeing the film was that 
it had been cast with a woman who looked just very like Goodall 
herself.  It took a moment to realize this was the original footage 
of her days in Africa.  The picture is so sharp for most of the 
footage it looks like it has to be re-enactment, but this is the 
original photography.

As a child Jane Goodall read the stories of Edgar Rice Burroughs, 
and she wanted to live like Tarzan's Jane in Africa surrounded by 
animals.  Sadly, she could not afford college and ended up a 
secretary.  In spite of her not having the necessary schooling to 
be sent to observe animals in the wild, Louis Leakey--yes, *that* 
Louis Leakey--chose her to go to Gombe in Africa to study 
chimpanzee behavior.  Leakey considered that education was not 
nearly as important as an open mind, a passion for knowledge, a 
love of animals, and a monumental patience.  These were virtues 
that the neophyte Goodall had in abundance.  The last of these 
virtues, the patience, would be badly needed as chimpanzees are 
very unhappy with the presence of these strange tall white apes who 
cover themselves up and who make these funny noises with their 
mouths.  And so began Goodall's first great challenge, winning over 
the chimps, in what has become the longest study of any animal in 
its natural habitat--going on fifty years and still continuing.

The animal photography in this film is absolutely stunning.  It was 
shot by Hugo van Lawick, considered to be one of the greatest 
animal photographers of all time.  He plays a major part in the 
life of Goodall, as the film relates.  Director Brett Morgen 
reconstructed much of the photography from what was thought to be 
long-lost footage, but restored and digitally enhanced for this 
film.  All this is flavored by a score by Philip Glass and one of 
his few scores without repetitious minimalism.

To this point the film has played only at film festivals and has 
not had a general release.  A faint criticism of the film: at times 
it shows too much of Goodall's private life when the viewer 
(perhaps just this viewer) is anxious to get back to insights of 
chimpanzee behavior.  Goodall has a battle in convincing the 
general population that a chimpanzee is a thinking and reasoning 
individual.  Note: If the viewer is expecting a candy-coated, 
Disney view of chimpanzees it should be noted that apes are more 
like humans than that and Goodall discovers some not very nice 
aspects of chimpanzee behavior.  Toward the end of the film there 
are some dark touches.

Goodall's choices sometimes seem to be questionable.  She bribes 
the apes to come into her camp, an environment very different from 
their wild habitat.  We do see some very negative aspects of 
contact between humans and apes.  I rate the film a +3 on the -4 to 
+4 scale or 9/10.  

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					Mark R. Leeper
					Copyright 2017 Mark R. Leeper