*With the release of the amazing film “Chimpanzee” this week, Jane Goodall, Ph.D., DBE, founder of the Jane Goodall Institute and UN Messenger of Peace, was happy to discuss the film and her life at Disney’s offices in New York City. She began her landmark study of chimpanzee behavior in July 19960, in what is now Tanzania. The Film Strip asked her about the efforts to same the endangered species. “Well, when I began my study in 1960, because that’s the longest, there was no problem. There was no threat to the chimpanzees. There were way more than a million. But gradually, as human populations grew, that forest has been nibbled at around the side, the habitats being gradually destroyed. Then the logging companies came in. They opened up some of the great forests of the Congo Basin. That resulted in roads. Along the roads came the hunters.”
Needless to say, Dr. Goodall was very moved when she saw the film. “I was completely amazed because to have an infant adopted by an alpha male is totally unique. I think it happened maybe once before, but never filmed before. And to have something so rare happen while a film team is actually there, I mean it’s like a gift from heaven. Thank you. It made this film absolutely unforgettable. Also, I hope that people will have a little feeling of what it’s like to be a chimpanzee deep in the forest and that they all have their own distinct personalities. And I hope audiences come away realizing that these are amazing beings and that they want to help us to protect them because they’re very endangered in the wild. We need funds, which is why it’s so good that Disneynature is giving us a percentage of the box office takings but only for the first week. So, we want everybody to go that first week.”
As a child growing up in the UK, climbing trees and playing with her dog, The Film Strip asked Dr. Goodall if she hand an inkling of what her life would be? “No. But when I was 10, I wanted to go to Africa, live with animals and write books about them. That’s what I wanted to do. So, I had to save up money working as a waitress. And I finally got out to Kenya. Heard about Louis Leakey, and went to see him. He gave me this amazing opportunity to go and study not just any animal but the one most like us.”
So does woman who travels 300 days a year ever have time for a personal life? “Yes, I’ve got a family,” she assured. “I have a son and my eldest grandson is 18-years-old and sort of waiting to decide exactly where he’s going to go. They live in Tanzania.”
Suffice to say, with a life well traveled and an engaging career that has earned respect, one wonders if it was all planned for 79-year-old Goodall. She believes it was. “I often feel I was meant to live this life and that I look back and I made choices at certain times. Looking back it seems it was inevitable but I could have made a different choice but I didn’t. Just as I got to Gombi and thought I can climb up the mountain in the dark, knowing there were leopards. I’m a bit scared of them, but I’m meant to be doing this so it’ll be okay. I just had this feeling. Just as right now my life’s crazy but I feel I’m meant to be doing it and I know what I’m doing is making a difference because everybody’s telling me so.
“So, although we’re still fighting an enormously uphill battle with raising awareness and basically saving the planet for our children if we weren’t doing the things we are doing, JGI and other such organizations, we’d be very much worse off. So hopefully it’s all been worth it. JaneGoodall.org, that’s our website.”
Long before the Twilight and The Vampire Diaries, there was The Moth Diaries’
The Film Strip sat down with “The Moth Diaries” director, Mary Harron and star Lily Cole (Ernessa), soon to be seen in “Snow White and The Hunstman,” to talk about their arresting vampire tale. Having some fun with the two, I began the interview with the facetious question, ‘which came first, “The Vampire Diaries” or “The Moth Diaries”? Laughing, Harron began by saying, “`The Moth Diaries’ was a book published about 1992 I think and it was published before the `Twilight’ series of books. At that point I think it was very unusual that it was taken as a teenage story. But it was relating to a kind of modern version of ‘Carrilla,’ the female vampire story that they’ve done movies about over the years. It’s never been as famous or as influential Dracula but the idea of a female vampire, female sort of bad girl has always been interesting.”
The other draw for the two was teenage angst. “Definitely, one of the biggest draws was the way it took all the dramas of female adolescence and teenage years and then found a way to dramatize them in a sort of supernatural story,” says Harron. “So it’s really about being teenage girls at heart.”
“Far and foremost, I wanted to work with Mary because I think she’s a very talented woman,” said Cole. “And I was really interested the kind of point the book was making. It’s ambiguity was fascinating. It’s told from Rebecca’s (Sarah Bolger) perspective and it is kind of a question mark as to whether she’s a vampire, if these things are really happening or if it’s all psychological. There are these intense female teenage relationships, which are little explored, in previous films. They are realistically and incredibly dramatic and heightened. All these different issues, whether it’s anorexia, etc. Boys and girls are very vulnerable at that period of their lives. So yeah, I thought it was very interesting territory.”
Syndicated columnist Marie Moore reports on film and TV from her New York City base. Contact her at [email protected]
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