Watching Jane Goodall watching chimps makes for a splendid time

In 1957 famed anthropologist Louis Leakey received a $6,000 grant to study wild chimpanzees in Africa, in the hope that observing their behavior would reveal something about early man. In his stead, he sent his secretary, a 26-year-old named Jane Goodall. She had no experience as zoologist, and didn't even have a college degree, but as we now know, she became the world's greatest primatologist. At age 83, she still spends much of her time at Gombe Stream National Park in Tanzania pursuing her passion of studying chimpanzees.

Director Brett Morgen's new documentary, Jane, focuses mainly on Goodall's earlier work in Tanzania, where she made many groundbreaking discoveries about chimpanzee behavior. We also learn about her personal life -- her mother served as her escort on her first stay in Gombe, and she married wildlife cinematographer Hugo van Lawick, which National Geographic had hired to film her in the early 1960s. She had a child with van Lawick, named him Grub, and sometimes kept him in a spacious, well-ventilated cage to prevent the chimps from eating him.

Narrated by Goodall herself, Jane is an intimate profile of a fascinating person I've admired since I was a child. It was a thrill to see old Flo and her child Flint, which I'd read about in her 1967 book, My Friends the Wild Chimpanzees. It was also interesting to see how the chimps slowly got used to Goodall, to the point that they would allow her to play with their babies. (Unfortunately, many of the chimps ended up dying or becoming crippled from polio because of human contact, so Goodall can no longer touch them.)

Goodall says she feels like the luckiest person alive, because she gets to spend her life doing the thing she loves the most. I feel we're lucky to have her doing it.

Learn more about Jane the movie here.



Gombe, Tanzania - Jane formed a close bond with young Fifi. As the film "Jane" depicts, Jane and the other Gombe researchers later discontinued feeding and touching the wild chimps. The feature documentary JANE will be released in select theaters October 2017. (National Geographic Creative/ Hugo van Lawick)



Gombe, Tanzania - Jane Goodall and infant chimpanzee Flint reach out to touch each other's hands. Flint was the first infant born at Gombe after Jane arrived. With him she had a great opportunity to study chimp development—and to have physical contact, which is no longer deemed appropriate with chimps in the wild. The feature documentary JANE will be released in select theaters October 2017. (National Geographic Creative/ Hugo van Lawick)



Gombe, Tanzania - "Flint" peeks into a tent at Jane Goodall. The feature documentary JANE will be released in select theaters October 2017. (National Geographic Creative / Hugo van Lawick)



Bournemouth, England - A young Jane Goodall poses for a picture in her school uniform. The feature documentary JANE will be released in select theaters October 2017. (Jane Goodall Institute)



Gombe, Tanzania - Hugo van Lawick poses with a smile. (Jane Goodall Institute)



Gombe, Tanzania - Jane Goodall watches as Hugo van Lawick operates a film camera. The feature documentary JANE will be released in select theaters October 2017. (Jane Goodall Institute)



Gombe, Tanzania - Jane Goodall kisses her son Grub. The feature documentary JANE will be released in select theaters October 2017. (Jane Goodall Institute/Hugo van Lawick)



Bournemouth, England - Jane Goodall and Hugo van Lawick during their wedding. The feature documentary JANE will be released in select theaters October 2017. (Jane Goodall Institute)



Gombe, Tanzania - Young Chimpanzee Flint. The feature documentary JANE will be released in select theaters October 2017. (Jane Goodall Institute)



Gombe, Tanzania - Two adult chimps, one young chimp. The feature documentary JANE will be released in select theaters October 2017. (Jane Goodall Institute)



Brett Morgen, the director, writer and producer for the film JANE (John P. Fleenor)



Phillip Glass, Composer for the film JANE (Steve Pyke)

Loading...