Monkeying around at the movies
There’s seldom a bad year for apes in the movies. King Kong, the biggest of them all, makes regular appearances to show off the latest developments in stop-motion (1933), giant prosthetics (1976) and motion-capture (2005). But by any reckoning, 2011 was a banner year for simian cinema.
The oddest and most coincidental pairing had to be Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Project Nim. The first, essentially a reboot of the 1960s franchise, was a US$100-million summer tentpole starring James Franco as a well-meaning geneticist who raises a super-intelligent chimpanzee in his home.
Project Nim is a documentary by James Marsh (Man on Wire) with startlingly similar overtones. In 1973 — just about the time Battle of the Planet of the Apes was limping into theatres — a chimpanzee named Nim was taken from his mother and raised in a human family.