By By Caleb Feinstein, High School Student Critic11.30.17
The film Jane, directed by Brett Morgen, tells the captivating story of Jane Goodall and her studies and adventures in Africa. Created in part using unseen original footage rediscovered in 2014, the film’s great cinematography and editing allows Jane’s passion and commitment to her work in Gombe to shine through. Growing up in England, young Jane Goodall always loved the outdoors, and had a passion for animals that led her to contact the researcher Louis Leakey. After being his secretary, Leakey sent Jane to work in Africa to conduct research on chimpanzees in the wild, a topic barely explored by other researchers, knowing the passion she would bring to the study. The film follows Jane as she learns more and more about these animals and as her personal life develops; with her marriage to the filmmaker Hugo van Lawick and the raising of their child in the African wild.
Without additional information, I wouldn't have guessed the footage was taken so long ago. The quality of the image and cohesiveness of the shots make the film seem almost like a reenactment, which makes the truth even more interesting. One quality of the film I especially enjoyed was how the audience was able to feel the passion Jane had for this study and understand it. Her adventurous spirit and diligent observations when hope seemed lost were impressive, and her attachment and interest with the chimpanzees is evident. The film made you feel for them individually as Jane named and interacted with them. This film not only gives insight into the lives and nature of chimpanzees but also on us humans and the uniquenesses, commonalities, and responsibilities we hold as a species.