Alpha Male Makes a Comeback in Chimpanzee
- Friday, April 20, 2012
Men behaving badly. It’s par for the course in many of today’s top-grossing films hitting the big screen (Hall Pass, The Hangover 1 and 2).
But surprisingly, Disneynature’s Chimpanzee is poised to swing popular cinema in the opposite direction this weekend. In the newest nature film to hit theaters, a different kind of role model is “manning up,” taking responsibility and leading the pack in a story only a Creator could have written.
He’s Freddy, the alpha male chimpanzee.
We first meet through the narration of Tim Allen (TV’s Last Man Standing, Toy Story 3), who introduces us to this nearly 50-year-old leader of a “family” which includes 35 chimpanzees living deep in The Taï Forest of Africa’s Ivory Coast. The fog is thick and the vegetation is lush in this area of the world; it’s also a jungle region the filmmakers say feels like “jogging in a sauna.”
But even though chimpanzees are known to be challenging, wary of humans and difficult to observe in the wild, the Chimpanzee directors forged ahead anyway to capture everyday life as Freddy and his family know it. And right from the start, it was nothing short of grueling.
Welcome to the Jungle
“To get there,” co-director Alastair Fothergill (African Cats, Earth) remembers of the location, “you begin by driving 10 hours from the nearest city on what’s still a tarmac road. Then you do another four hours on a dirt road that is sometimes impassable. And, if you make it that far, there’s an hour or more of walking along a very narrow path into the forest.”
But discomfort and challenges are standard issue when it comes to making a documentary in the wild.
Still, co-director Mark Linfield (Earth) says the Chimpanzee shoot was not without some really “dark periods,” and at times felt like it might never end—let alone end up on the big screen.
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