Watch Project Nim
- 1 hr 33 min
Project Nim is a compelling, heart-wrenching documentary that tells the story of Nim Chimpsky, a young chimp taken from his mother and raised as a human in a groundbreaking scientific experiment in the 1970s. The film takes us through the entire arc of Nim's life - from his infancy, when he was used as a test subject in a language acquisition study at Columbia University, to adolescence, when he was deemed too dangerous to be kept in human society and ultimately sent away to live among other chimps. The study, led by Herbert Terrace, aimed to teach Nim sign language and see if he could truly learn it and communicate with humans. Stephanie LaFarge, who was chosen to be Nim's new "mother," took him home to live with her family and teach him sign language in a nurturing environment. The early years of Nim's life were marked by great progress and optimism. He quickly learned many signs and seemed to enjoy interacting with humans. But as the study progressed, cracks began to show. Some researchers began to question if Nim had truly learned anything or if he was just picking up on cues from his human caretakers. Others worried about the ethics of using a chimp in this way and the impact it might have on Nim's mental health. Things came to a head when Nim became too big and too aggressive to be handled by humans. He was sent away to live on a research facility in Oklahoma, where he was subjected to a more rigid and isolated existence. The contrast between the happy, human-centric life Nim had known and the barren, sterile environment of the research facility is stark and shocking. The last portion of the film looks at Nim's life as an adult chimp. Having been raised almost entirely by humans, Nim was ill-equipped to live among other chimps when he was sent away. He struggled to integrate with the group, and his upbringing among humans gave him traits that made him a target for aggression from other chimps. The documentary is moving and thought-provoking, raising important questions about the ethics of using animals in science and the complexities of interspecies communication. It's also a fascinating look at human-animal relationships and the way we project our desires and emotions onto other beings - even when they're not like us at all. Overall, Project Nim is a powerful and emotional film that will stay with you long after the credits roll. It's a must-watch for anyone interested in animal behavior, language acquisition, or the relationship between humans and animals.