Home > Film Review > National Geographic Documentary: JANE (Review)

National Geographic Documentary: JANE (Review)

Jane and HugoJANE
Writer/Director: Brett Morgen
Archival Footage: Hugo van Lawick
Music: Philip Glass
Premiere: Monday, March 12, 2018, 8/7 C National Geographic and NAT GEO WILD.
Length: 90 minutes

I had the rare pleasure of reviewing JANE, the documentary of Jane Goodall by Brett Morgen. Many who’ve seen this multi-award winning doc have called it the “best documentary ever,” which I personally believe is a bit hyperbolic. Don’t get me wrong, JANE is a great documentary and you’ll learn things about Jane Goodall that you never knew before within the opening credits of the film, but the extreme hype might leave you disappointed. It’s a great documentary and is a “must see” because of its historical and scientific importance.

The film documents Jane’s earliest days in Gombe (Tanzania) from 1960 onward. At only 26 years old, Jane begins her highly acclaimed, and somewhat controversial, studies of chimpanzees in their natural surroundings. The documentary was excerpted from more than 100 hours of film stored for 50 years in National Geographic archives.

Much of the documentaries’ never before seen footage was shot by National Geographic filmmaker Hugo van Lawick, who becomes her love interest, husband, and father to her son, Grub. I’ll bet that, like me, you didn’t know any of that about her personal life. As the documentary rolls on, you learn a lot about Jane, her methodology, her love of the chimpanzees, her desire to become a trusted friend to the chimpanzees, and her struggles with life in Gombe.

Many times during the film, my daughter (a huge Jane Goodall fan) and I both exclaimed, “Oh my gosh, I didn’t know that!” It’s a wonderful film full of beautiful shots of the Gombe forest, of Jane, and of her work with the chimps.

JANE will educate, entertain, and enlighten those who have even the smallest interest in Jane Goodall and her work.

Accolades to Hugo van Lawick for his excellent film work, his persistence, and his dedication to Jane’s story. Brett Morgen did a wonderful job of capturing the essence of Jane, Hugo, and their time in Gombe.

Rating: 10/10

Recommendation: Watch this beautiful documentary.

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