Primates often get a bad rap in major motion pictures. This summer, “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” will be released, and it is easy to predict that apes will be the aggressors in the film. Movies about primates, such as the “Planet of the Apes” franchise and “King Kong,” inevitably focus on their brutal strength and ominous looks. In reality, they can be the victims of human insensitivity and greed as is showcased in “Gorillas in the Mist,” which was released in 1988.
“Gorillas in the Mist” is based on a true story. It begins in the 1960s when spirited Dian Fossey (played by Sigourney Weaver) attends a lecture of famous anthropologist Louis Leakey. She finally succeeds in convincing the initially doubtful Leakey that she has the wherewithal to become a primate researcher. She moves to the Congo and while living in close proximity with them in the mountains, she learns a lot about a rare breed of mountain gorillas. Dian becomes obsessed with protecting them. She finds that they are being poached for heads, hands and skin. Because she spends years trying to save them, Dian makes enemies and eventually, she is murdered.
“Gorillas in the Mist” is directed by Michael Apted, who makes the film visually stunning. There are, of course, many outdoor scenes in the movie. The mountains, rivers and trees look lush and sumptuous. Also, the gorillas look very real and often less menacing than when they are depicted in action films.
Sigourney Weaver is perfect in the lead role. She channels Dian’s obsessive tendencies, her unflagging spirit and also shows her to be an animal-lover who challenged by human relationships. Another good performance is by Bryan Brown, who plays a photographer for National Geographic. Although they get off to a rocky start, they eventually connect.
“Gorillas in the Mist” is a very good choice for fans of Sigourney Weaver. Also, those interested in animal preservation efforts might enjoy the film.