Chimpanzee The Movie
In Disney Natures Film “Chimpanzee”We Learn Whether Human or Non-Human Primate Family is King
For me the movie “Chimpanzee” was as much about the apes in the audience as it was the apes on screen. The movie follows Oscar, a newly born chimp and his groups day to day activities in their constant search for food. Oscar is a rambunctious little chimp who is learning every day from his mother how to tale care of himself. Oscar has an occasional moment of independence but it will be years before Oscar will be able to fend for himself. In his group (which is his extended family) there are other children and their mothers as well as a chimp referred to by the narrator (Tim Allen) as Grandpa, who is on the cusp of his fiftieth birthday. There is also another chimp in the group that is singled out, an alpha male named Freddy. As soon as the movie begins we learn that Freddy is in no way interested in the youth of the group, as alpha it is his responsibility to patrol the borders of his territory and groom the other males to keep them in line.
Freddy is busy ensuring the safety of the nut groves that exist on his territory becosue when in season they provide a feast for his group. But Scar and his rival group attack and in the process kill Oscar’s mother; this is where the story really begins. Now alone Oscar is forced to try to fend for himself but he is too young and without his mother to teach him he is helpless.
After being thrown aside by everyone else in the group, Oscar follows Freddy around to try to learn from him. At first Freddy ignores young Oscar but then something truly amazing happens, Freddy begins to teach Oscar how to make tools and how to crack nuts. Freddy begins to share his food with Oscar, grooms him and then to make the adoption complete, he lets him ride on his back which is typical of a mother and child but never of an alpha male. According to Jane Goodall in a recent interview at People.com this almost never happens that an alpha male will adopt a young chimp and in turn save his life.
As I sat there in the audience with my four-year-old daughter on my lap I could not help but think about the parent child relationship. Being the alpha male of my own small group with my own nut grove to protect I understood the difficulty of Freddy having to divide his time teaching and looking out for Oscar while also patrolling his borders and keeping the rest of the males in line. There is much for a hunter/gatherer to do in this modern world and parenting is more than just a mother’s job. My daughter sat on my lap and I comforted her as she cried into my chest with compassion for Oscar. And at the same time that young Oscar fell asleep in Freddy’s arms, my daughter fell asleep in mine. I looked up and recognized us in them as the movie screen completed its transformation from screen to mirror.