Project Nim: about a chimp who learned to speak

I went to see the documentary Project Nim other day at The Music Box in Chicago. It’s the kind of place that is also playing the director’s cut of The Man Who Fell To Earth on a giant screen. Most movies about talking animals are the dumbest of the dumb. This documentary, about a chimp that was taught to communicate in ASL, is one of the best documentaries I’ve seen.

Nim’s story is told through the perspective of the dozen or so people (in many cases, deeply flawed people) who took care of him over the span of his life. It’s impossible to watch this and not think how chimps communicate and feel much the way that we do.