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Project Nim (2011)

tomatometer

98

Average Rating: 8.1/10
Reviews Counted: 131
Fresh: 128 | Rotten: 3

Equal parts hilarious, poignant, and heartbreaking, Project Nim not only tells a compelling story masterfully, but also raises the flag on the darker side of human nature.

100

Average Rating: 8.3/10
Critic Reviews: 32
Fresh: 32 | Rotten: 0

Equal parts hilarious, poignant, and heartbreaking, Project Nim not only tells a compelling story masterfully, but also raises the flag on the darker side of human nature.

audience

84

liked it
Average Rating: 3.9/5
User Ratings: 9,614

My Rating

Movie Info

From the team behind Man on Wire comes the story of Nim, the chimpanzee who in the 1970s became the focus of a landmark experiment which aimed to show that an ape could learn to communicate with language if raised and nurtured like a human child. Following Nim's extraordinary journey through human society, and the enduring impact he makes on the people he meets along the way, the film is an unflinching and unsentimental biography of an animal we tried to make human. What we learn about his true

Feb 7, 2012

$0.4M

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All Critics (133) | Top Critics (32) | Fresh (128) | Rotten (3) | DVD (1)

This haunting life story is an exquisite example of non-fiction filmmaking as full-bodied, emotionally complex drama.

January 4, 2012 Full Review Source: Hollywood Reporter
Hollywood Reporter
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Project Nim nimbly serves up a profoundly sad tale that raises as many thought-provoking questions as it answers.

October 7, 2011 Full Review Source: The Wrap
The Wrap
Top Critic IconTop Critic

This many-faceted time capsule sheds little light, but buried inside it are vexing questions and the still-beating heart of a special creature.

August 12, 2011 Full Review Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Top Critic IconTop Critic

You end up fearing for the humans who contact him. At the same time, you feel his rage.

August 11, 2011 Full Review Source: Seattle Times
Seattle Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

You're left with the impression that, despite not being able to grasp basic human grammar, perhaps Nim was unwittingly conditioned into understanding the concept of love.

August 9, 2011 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

For the second film in a row, Marsh has created a movie we can't keep our eyes off.

July 29, 2011 Full Review Source: Globe and Mail
Globe and Mail
Top Critic IconTop Critic

This smart doc should prove the perfect summer antidote to most of summer's films that require you to turn your brain off to enjoy them.

July 10, 2013 Full Review Source: The Playlist
The Playlist

If there's one thing Marsh knows, it's how to reach your deepest emotions. He did it with 'Man on Wire,' and he does it again here.

May 25, 2013 Full Review Source: The Patriot Ledger
The Patriot Ledger

A fascinating, unflinching and tragic documentary about the chimpanzee we tried to make human.

March 4, 2013 Full Review Source: Concrete Playground
Concrete Playground

A tragic chronicle of animal abuse.

February 20, 2012 Full Review Source: EDGE Boston
EDGE Boston

Like an orphan out of Dickens, Nim is a sorrowful figure buffeted by the winds of the greedy, selfish and more powerful...

February 7, 2012 Full Review Source: LarsenOnFilm
LarsenOnFilm

One of the 10 best films of 2011.

January 16, 2012 Full Review Source: Creative Loafing
Creative Loafing

This is one of those great documentaries which could be transposed almost without change into a heartbreaking Hollywood tearjerker.

January 9, 2012 Full Review Source: What Culture
What Culture

There is no question Nim was exploited for human gain, yet there are important aspects which Marsh leaves unexplored.

December 9, 2011 Full Review Source: Austin Chronicle
Austin Chronicle

Nim's story is so fascinating and telling... that it would probably be impossible for even the very worst of filmmakers to screw it up, and Marsh is not the worst of filmmakers.

December 9, 2011 Full Review Source: Antagony & Ecstasy
Antagony & Ecstasy

Writer-director James Marsh mines yet another long-forgotten slice of '70s madness.

December 7, 2011 Full Review Source: Flicks.co.nz
Flicks.co.nz

It is the sad story of an animal whose fate is left in the hands of people--some well-meaning, some not so much--who are error-prone, unprepared for dealing with a chimpanzee, and often uncaring.

November 14, 2011 Full Review Source: Mark Leeper's Reviews
Mark Leeper's Reviews

In a way, Nim's life journey mirrors our own, particularly if we end up alone, no longer having much control over what happens to us.

November 12, 2011 Full Review Source: Laramie Movie Scope
Laramie Movie Scope

Tales of the attacks Nim inflicted on his many carers are horrific, but there is a pervasive sense there was nothing else they could have expected.

October 18, 2011 Full Review Source: The Age (Australia)
The Age (Australia)

This tale of a hard done by chip places a light on when unethical scientific research and the post 1960s counterculture combine to create an experiment done wrong in Project Nim.

October 2, 2011 Full Review Source: Matt's Movie Reviews
Matt's Movie Reviews

...succeeds as theater, as entertainment, but it doesn't really attempt what Terrace tried, in his admittedly morally clumsy way. What is the light in those feral eyes and what does it mean? Can we ever hope to know?

October 1, 2011 Full Review Source: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

The film teases us with a paradox: arguably Nim's keepers were wrong to try to endow their protege with human attributes, but can we empathise with his suffering without making the same mistake?

September 30, 2011 Full Review Source: The Age (Australia) | Comment (1)
The Age (Australia)

Funny at times, but also deeply sad, it's a truly fascinating and well made documentary.

September 29, 2011 Full Review Source: At the Movies (Australia)
At the Movies (Australia)

Marsh's film is as much a study of how we behave as a species as it is of what happens to Nim. And we don't come off particularly well.

September 29, 2011 Full Review Source: The Age (Australia)
The Age (Australia)

Audience Reviews for Project Nim

"I thought wouldn't it be exciting to communicate with a chimp and find out what it was thinking."

Tells the story of a chimpanzee taken from its mother at birth and raised like a human child by a family in a brownstone on the upper West Side in the 1970s.

REVIEW
The very idea of a chimp being brought up in human society is a fascinating one. But it quickly becomes apparent that this experiment is doomed to failure. There is a very good reason that you do not see people keep chimpanzees as pets - they can be extremely aggressive and powerful animals. On numerous occasions carers were bitten and maimed. One woman had a hole ripped in the side of her face while another had her head repeatedly beaten off the pavement by the ape. But the over-riding feeling engendered by the documentary is one of sadness. This poor creature is let down by those who took him from his mother and decided to rear him as a human.

It seems to me quite outrageous that an animal taught to communicate with people and live in a house should ever have been sent to an animal experiment centre. The essential message of the film is that you should not try to transport a wild animal into human society and not expect repercussions. Some of the people in the film are just guilty of naivety, dangerous as it was. As much as a story about a remarkable primate, it's a story about human stupidity, human callousness and - thanks to Bob Ingersoll - human kindness. It's overall a remarkable documentary.
May 1, 2012
LorenzoVonMatterhorn
Lorenzo von Matterhorn

Super Reviewer

Four million dogs and cats out of the eight million that enter America's shelters are euthanized each year. If a number alone doesn't stir your emotions, Project Nim will. Among many other things, this movie is a close-up, extreme case of our apathetic, conditional love towards other beings, be them human or otherwise. The movie doesn't accuse anybody, but with actual footage and narration by those involved in Nim's life, it implicitly argues that if we want to include animals in our home, we have a responsibility for their whole life, including understanding them on their terms and providing for their needs (and knowing this information BEFORE bringing them into our life). It reminds me of the conversation held at the beginning of the movie Artificial Intelligence: "It occurs to me ...it isn't just a question of creating a robot that can love. Isn't the real conundrum, can you get a human to love them back?"
March 29, 2012
Matthew Slaven

Super Reviewer

James Marsh is fast becoming the documenterian to look out for, Project Nim is a fantastic follow up to his brilliant man on Wire. Project Nim is a very compelling story, not just because of its main attraction, a charismatic Chimp called Nim Chimpsky (Get it? Noam Chomsky/Nim Chimpsky?) but also because of the humans he encounters, such as the new-age mother who lets him drink and is fascinated by his masturbatory habits, the egocentric lothario scientist (complete with seductive 70's moustache) who seems to be busier bedding the researchers and getting his picture taken rather than getting on with the project and this hippy best friend, who likes nothing better than, playing, picking wild berries and sharing a joint with the young simian. Welcome to the 70's. Yes, Nim smokes weed from time to time, this and other wacky storeys emerge from this often humorous but also heartbreaking tale. It's that old cliche of us humans learning more from animals than they could ever learn from us but brilliantly done with all key players giving their side of the story. Highly recommended.
February 1, 2012
SirPant

Super Reviewer

'Project Nim'. A chimp raised as a human child and then senselessly moved and emotionally mistreated. For "science". Devastating.
January 1, 2012
c0up
c0up  

Super Reviewer

    1. Lab Tech: The only reason he let go was because he got shocked with the cattle prod.
    – Submitted by Akash O (2 years ago)
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Foreign Titles

  • Le Projet Nim (FR)
  • Proyecto Nim (ES)
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