Project Nim Reviews

  • Oct 09, 2018

    Good but infuriating documentary. There's a deep irony in these humans trying to investigate an animal's capacity for higher functions while they themselves fail to plan or communicate properly or be self-aware.

    Good but infuriating documentary. There's a deep irony in these humans trying to investigate an animal's capacity for higher functions while they themselves fail to plan or communicate properly or be self-aware.

  • Apr 01, 2017

    This movie is on like any other documentary, very intellectually simulating.

    This movie is on like any other documentary, very intellectually simulating.

  • Nov 12, 2016

    This was BEYOND sad. I've never wanted to unwatch or unknow something so much. It is a display of how terribly misguided academia can be and the pompousness of the professor? I simply could not believe that an animal acting like an animal was considered to be "acting up". Poor Nim. (And poor Nim's mother...SIX taken away?) I wish I had not watched this. I'll be sad for days.

    This was BEYOND sad. I've never wanted to unwatch or unknow something so much. It is a display of how terribly misguided academia can be and the pompousness of the professor? I simply could not believe that an animal acting like an animal was considered to be "acting up". Poor Nim. (And poor Nim's mother...SIX taken away?) I wish I had not watched this. I'll be sad for days.

  • May 28, 2016

    Just trying to live together as though equally human is itself its own form of cruelty let alone the confinement & deprivation imposed on almost all undomesticated chimps held in captivity. Set them free. Just, set them free. There is no such thing as a humane experiment. Just set them freeeee & preserve & defend that freedom.

    Just trying to live together as though equally human is itself its own form of cruelty let alone the confinement & deprivation imposed on almost all undomesticated chimps held in captivity. Set them free. Just, set them free. There is no such thing as a humane experiment. Just set them freeeee & preserve & defend that freedom.

  • Mar 13, 2016

    "ABSORBING | EXTRAORDINARY | HEART-BREAKING | INCREDIBLE | MAGNIFICENT" (94-out-of-100)

    "ABSORBING | EXTRAORDINARY | HEART-BREAKING | INCREDIBLE | MAGNIFICENT" (94-out-of-100)

  • Mar 12, 2016

    On the surface, James Marsh's Project Nim, is about a group of people's quest to teach a chimp sign language. And if it was just about that, it probably would have been a great documentary. But it touches on so many other, very meaningful themes-most notably, abandonment and selfishness-that one can't help but admire the hell out of it. It's actually the film's human characters that ultimately come under Marsh's microscope, and what we see isn't pretty. It is, however, very powerful. I wasn't as enamored as many others were with Man on Wire, Marsh's previous feature, but Project Nim is sensational. Nim Chimpsky is the name of the film's featured primate. He was born on a reserve but moved at a very early age to a Manhattan brownstone where he was to be raised as a human child in a classic test of nature vs. nurture. The experiment's administrator is Dr. Herb Terrace, but he stays hands-off for the most part, instead relying on several different research assistants and students to look after and raise the chimp. They begin teaching him sign language, and a great deal of progress is made (Nim dresses himself and seemingly mirrors the emotional growth of a human toddler). Despite the obvious intelligence and self-awareness that Nim shows, he's not entirely able to give him his natural tendencies. He bites when he doesn't get what he wants, causing more than one caretaker to leave out of fear of getting hurt. This, in turn, causes him to be moved from his first home into a more secluded one, and ultimately from that home back to the reserve where he came from. What's sad is that these people can't seem to grasp that Nim isn't a person. He doesn't know any better. Yes, he's smarter than most chimps, but he proves completely unable to create a coherent sentence, nor can he express anything that isn't a statement of want or need. Nim isn't a conversationalist, which was ultimately what Terrace was going for. But does the chimp's failure to comprehend mean he deserves to be completely abandoned? Of course not, yet that's what most of those who raised him do. Politics, money, infighting, and some twisted personal morals and boundaries ultimately stop the formal experiment and serve as the catalyst for Nim's abandonment. Nim acts out, but not in such a way that he can't be looked after. At his reserve, he thrives in the care of a kindly and patient hippie. But he's visited only once by someone from his childhood-Terrace, who goes only to get pictures and video of him with the chimp. Watching Nim rejoice upon seeing him is tragic because we know how it will end. And seeing the way Terrace later writes Nim off because the experiment didn't play out the way he wanted it to is a little sickening. Project Nim, unlike some of the year's other great documentaries, was shortlisted for the Academy Awards, but it was ultimately left off the final list of nominees. Marsh isn't a big name like Errol Morris or Steve James, but he's now made two very good-to-great documentaries in just three years. He also directed one of the Red Riding Trilogy films, and had a narrative feature (Shadow Dancer) debut to good reviews at Sundance this year starring Clive Owen and Andrea Riseborough. So in addition to being a fantastic film, Project Nim does something else: It puts all film writers on notice. Any list of the best working filmmakers (or promising up-and-comers) is incomplete without the name James Marsh on it. http://www.johnlikesmovies.com/project-nim/

    On the surface, James Marsh's Project Nim, is about a group of people's quest to teach a chimp sign language. And if it was just about that, it probably would have been a great documentary. But it touches on so many other, very meaningful themes-most notably, abandonment and selfishness-that one can't help but admire the hell out of it. It's actually the film's human characters that ultimately come under Marsh's microscope, and what we see isn't pretty. It is, however, very powerful. I wasn't as enamored as many others were with Man on Wire, Marsh's previous feature, but Project Nim is sensational. Nim Chimpsky is the name of the film's featured primate. He was born on a reserve but moved at a very early age to a Manhattan brownstone where he was to be raised as a human child in a classic test of nature vs. nurture. The experiment's administrator is Dr. Herb Terrace, but he stays hands-off for the most part, instead relying on several different research assistants and students to look after and raise the chimp. They begin teaching him sign language, and a great deal of progress is made (Nim dresses himself and seemingly mirrors the emotional growth of a human toddler). Despite the obvious intelligence and self-awareness that Nim shows, he's not entirely able to give him his natural tendencies. He bites when he doesn't get what he wants, causing more than one caretaker to leave out of fear of getting hurt. This, in turn, causes him to be moved from his first home into a more secluded one, and ultimately from that home back to the reserve where he came from. What's sad is that these people can't seem to grasp that Nim isn't a person. He doesn't know any better. Yes, he's smarter than most chimps, but he proves completely unable to create a coherent sentence, nor can he express anything that isn't a statement of want or need. Nim isn't a conversationalist, which was ultimately what Terrace was going for. But does the chimp's failure to comprehend mean he deserves to be completely abandoned? Of course not, yet that's what most of those who raised him do. Politics, money, infighting, and some twisted personal morals and boundaries ultimately stop the formal experiment and serve as the catalyst for Nim's abandonment. Nim acts out, but not in such a way that he can't be looked after. At his reserve, he thrives in the care of a kindly and patient hippie. But he's visited only once by someone from his childhood-Terrace, who goes only to get pictures and video of him with the chimp. Watching Nim rejoice upon seeing him is tragic because we know how it will end. And seeing the way Terrace later writes Nim off because the experiment didn't play out the way he wanted it to is a little sickening. Project Nim, unlike some of the year's other great documentaries, was shortlisted for the Academy Awards, but it was ultimately left off the final list of nominees. Marsh isn't a big name like Errol Morris or Steve James, but he's now made two very good-to-great documentaries in just three years. He also directed one of the Red Riding Trilogy films, and had a narrative feature (Shadow Dancer) debut to good reviews at Sundance this year starring Clive Owen and Andrea Riseborough. So in addition to being a fantastic film, Project Nim does something else: It puts all film writers on notice. Any list of the best working filmmakers (or promising up-and-comers) is incomplete without the name James Marsh on it. http://www.johnlikesmovies.com/project-nim/

  • Jan 30, 2016

    Very cute in the beginning, but maddening towards the end when they start harming the monkey. Very good documentary that shows the outward display of emotion from one monkey

    Very cute in the beginning, but maddening towards the end when they start harming the monkey. Very good documentary that shows the outward display of emotion from one monkey

  • Jan 24, 2016

    Project Nim is such a heartbreaking and very important film. It is very well made, very emotional and always so fascinating with its intriguing subject matter being extremely well explored with many clever and sophisticated themes. It is one of the year's finest films and one of the best documentaries I've seen.

    Project Nim is such a heartbreaking and very important film. It is very well made, very emotional and always so fascinating with its intriguing subject matter being extremely well explored with many clever and sophisticated themes. It is one of the year's finest films and one of the best documentaries I've seen.

  • Jan 11, 2016

    This is a thought provoking, heart wrenching, infuriating, and touching documentary. Had full body chills and tears towards the end. Unfortunately it falls down on slightly ham-fisted direction at times, but still fantastic.

    This is a thought provoking, heart wrenching, infuriating, and touching documentary. Had full body chills and tears towards the end. Unfortunately it falls down on slightly ham-fisted direction at times, but still fantastic.

  • Nov 21, 2015

    The story is presented with an amazing element of drama for a documentary...as Nim bounces around from caregiver to caregiver. One cannot help but feel some empathy towards this animal who learned and retained American Sign Language.

    The story is presented with an amazing element of drama for a documentary...as Nim bounces around from caregiver to caregiver. One cannot help but feel some empathy towards this animal who learned and retained American Sign Language.