From the Vaults: Chimps Ahoy
"Project Nim" stirs up memories of our Damn Dirty Ape issue
By Marjorie Baumgarten,
5:36PM, Sat. Dec. 10, 2011
Project Nim has returned to Austin at the Violet Crown Cinema after a brief one-week run here last summer when it got no support from its distributor, Roadside Attractions. This documentary about a famous chimpanzee raised as a human child, is by James Marsh, the Oscar-winning director of Man on Wire.
Project Nim is a heartbreaking documentary about a science experiment in the 1970s in which a chimpanzee named Nim Chimpsky was raised as a human child and taught to communicate with sign language, and the sad trajectory that his life took once the experiment was abandoned. The film opened yesterday at the Violet Crown, and our review and showtimes are available here.
Thinking about Nim Chimpsky got us to thinking back to the summer of 2005 when we were working on what came to be called our Damn Dirty Ape Issue (August 5, 2005). It was one of our editorial group projects in which almost every area of the paper featured some ape-related content. There's a profile of the Primarily Primates refuge in Central Texas, and a piece on the Creation Evidence Museum, an evolution-debunking institution located in a trailer in Glen Rose, Texas. Discover the curious history of ink monkeys – tailed creatures reputed to assist Chinese calligraphers by mixing inks and handing them brushes, view a cinematic simian fashion spread by Will Van Overbeek, learn why men in monkey suits are preferable to the real thing in Hollywood movies, and ponder with Michael Ventura the less than 1% difference between human and chimp DNA. And so much more.