Project Nim

I highly recommend Project Nim, the documentary about the life and times of the chimpanzee Nim who was raised as a baby in a human home and taught sign language.

There are a lot of strange moments in the film but perhaps none stranger than this: Stephanie LaFarge, Nim’s adopted mother who breast-fed him as a baby, is eager to reasure us that as Nim grew older and more interested in sex:

I never felt sexually engaged with him. There was a sensuality but Nim was a pre-teen.

Do think about that for a moment.

Nim is later taken from her but she sees him once again when she is now a much older woman. She describes her first thoughts and reactions:

He wasn’t particulary attracted to me now that he was an adult chimpanzee. I wasn’t beautiful or anything like that.

He wasn’t particularly attractive to me now that he was an adult chimpanzee. I didn’t have a, “Oh, isn’t he beautiful,” or anything like that.

Project Nim is from director James Marsh who also made the great Man on Wire.

Addendum: Lots of great comments in this post. See especially Belle Ball who knew Nim and who corrected my quotation.


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