BY PETE HAMMOND
One of the highlights of the recent Toronto Film Festival (and sure to be at the upcoming New York Film Festival) was the premiere of the extraordinary National Geographic documentary Jane which is based on 100 hours of recently discovered 16MM film footage of Jane Goodall’s first foray into the world of chimpanzees in 1962. Long thought lost, the footage shows a brave young woman at the beginning of what would become a remarkable lifelong journey with these amazing creatures.
Goodall, now 83, is considered the foremost expert on chimpanzees, and this film takes us back to the first expedition of a then-untrained 28-year-old Jane whose research revolutionized our understanding of the animals. She has been at it ever since. The images are so crisp and beautiful it looks like it was all filmed last week, and her new narration provides insight that is absolutely fascinating.
With a thrilling musical score from Oscar nominated composer Philip Glass this film from director Brett Morgen (Kurt Cobain: Montage Of Heck, The Kid Stays In The Picture) should be a prime Oscar contender not only for Documentary Feature, but also Original Music Score, and perhaps Film Editing for the sensational work in assembling the recently uncovered footage filmed by the great Hugo van Lawick, the National Geographic filmmaker who met, fell in love with and eventually married Goodall. In fact their very first meeting is chronicled and seen here.
“The film is very much a love story, except the love is not between man and woman. The love is between a woman and her work, and a man and his work,” Morgen said. National Geographic Documentary Films will be opening the film on October 20. Before that, Glass’s score will be performed live to picture on October 9 at the Hollywood Bowl, with Glass, Goodall and Morgen in attendance.
Morgan said he wanted Jane to be “like a cinematic opera” which is what led him to Glass in the first place. Watch the trailer above.