Using over 100 hours of never-before-seen footage, director and writer Brett Morgan tells the story of 26-year-old Jane Goodall arriving on the pebble beach of Gombe in “Jane.” With no previous training and no bias in the field of scientific theory, Jane, the secretary of Louis Leakey, entered the jungle with no fear in her heart; she knew this was where she belonged.
The film documents her struggles and stories with the chimpanzees as well as her own personal life with photographer Hugo van Lawick, who is regarded as one of the greatest wildlife photographers of all time.
The documentary is a spectacular piece; the footage from 50 years ago made each scene incredibly astounding and poetic. While today’s films create CGI stories of animals and creatures, these documentaries bring to life the true essence of wildlife and the animals that live in it. It was fascinating to watch Goodall and the chimpanzees slowly develop not only into relatable characters on a screen, but into genuine people and animals creating a bond never before seen in her time.
The movie also includes interviews with Goodall for commentary. She shows her point of view as a female scientist in a time when that was out of the ordinary. Many scientists were skeptical and scandalized that a woman with no past training and had never gone to college could have gathered that much data in the wild. She broke boundaries and defied expectations by spending years doing what nobody had done before.
The film covers the relationship between her, van Lawick, and their son Grub as well as a family of chimpanzees with Flo, Flint, Fifi, and many more. It was incredible to see an animal from the jungle come to accept the presence of a human in their homeland.
I especially enjoyed the music soundtrack by Philip Glass; each beat and rhythm correlated to the sounds of the chimps and their actions. It is a beautifully composed soundtrack to go along with the film. “Jane” is set to have its world premiere at the upcoming Toronto International Film Festival before screening at the New York Film Festival. It will also screen next month on Oct. 9 with a live orchestral performance of Glass’ score.
“Jane” is a breathtaking film that will leave a lasting impact. Chimpanzees are not an expendable species and the documentary delivers that point very well.