The story of Jane Goodall is a remarkable one. In 1957, aged 26 and with no scientific background, she became a wildlife researcher in Tanzania. Her aim was to win the trust of a community of chimpanzees and, in turn, hopefully learn about our closest animal relatives.
Once her story made it out into the outside world (‘National Geographic’ did a famous cover feature), people were captivated. And it’s easy to see why: the images of her interacting so closely with the chimps, even helping grooming them at times, are like something from a fairytale.
Much of the footage in this documentary has been recently rediscovered and captures those early days of Goodall’s research. The nature pioneer – climbing trees in her Converses, completely at home with these animals – is an inspiring focal point. But overall this documentary doesn’t feel like it quite does the story justice. Perhaps we’ve all been spoilt by ‘Blue Planet’ – but that original footage doesn’t feel strong enough stretched out over a 90-minute film, and there’s an overbearing soundtrack by Philip Glass that’s at odds with the mostly quiet, subtle subject matter.
Still, the story itself is fascinating. And for any wannabe explorers out there, there’s joy to be found in hearing about how one woman fulfilled her wildest childhood dream.