Project Nim


Project Nim

Critics Consensus

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.



Reviews Counted: 141

liked it

Audience Score

User Ratings: 10,317


All Critics | Top Critics
Average Rating: N/A
Reviews Count: 0
Fresh: 0
Rotten: 0


Average Rating: 3.9/5

You may have noticed some of the recent changes we have made. To read more about what we’ve been working on behind the scenes, please check out our new RT Product Blog here.

User image

Project Nim Photos

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 nature - and indeed our own - is comic, revealing and profoundly unsettling. -- (C) Roadside Attractions

Watch it now


News & Interviews for Project Nim

Critic Reviews for Project Nim

All Critics (141) | Top Critics (40)

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

    Jan 4, 2012 | Full Review…
  • 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.

    Oct 18, 2011 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • Project Nim nimbly serves up a profoundly sad tale that raises as many thought-provoking questions as it answers.

    Oct 7, 2011 | Full Review…

    Leah Rozen

    Top Critic
  • 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?

    Sep 30, 2011 | Rating: 3.5/5 | Full Review…
  • 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.

    Sep 29, 2011 | Rating: 3.5/5 | Full Review…
  • This many-faceted time capsule sheds little light, but buried inside it are vexing questions and the still-beating heart of a special creature.

    Aug 12, 2011 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

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.

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.

Lorenzo von Matterhorn
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 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?"

Matthew Slaven
Matthew Slaven

Super Reviewer

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


Super Reviewer

Documentary about Nim, a chimp who was raised as a human, taught sign language, and then abandoned and shuffled around to a series of temporary homes, unsuited to fit into either the human or ape worlds. Thought-provoking, and one of the most emotionally affecting movies of the year; fans of RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES owe it to themselves to check out this real-life version of events.

Greg S
Greg S

Super Reviewer

Project Nim Quotes

News & Features