Gorillas in the Mist (1988) – Micheal Apted

Sigourney Weaver headlines as Dian Fossey in the next title up in Ten Bad Dates With De Niro, though I don’t agree with the title of the list it’s included in so I won’t mention it.Co-starring Bryan Brown, and make-up effects by the amazing Rick Baker, Weaver turns in a wonderful Golden Globe winning performance in a film that was nominated for five Oscars (Best Actress, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Film Editing, Best Sound, and Best Original Score).

Fossey travels to Africa to study and protect the mountain gorillas (brought to amazing life by Baker’s work, the performers who wore his work and the actual animals themselves). Maurice Jarre’s score, coupled with some fantastic locations give the film a beautiful authenticity, and Apted creates his narrative with a smooth and easy visual style.

Balancing her research with the problems of the country, Fossey gets more than she bargained for with the civil war that is threatening the region. It also reinforces how important her work is and she discovers the beauty of the region, and those who call it home.

But there are dangers everywhere.

She is joined by Bob Campbell (Brown) as a National Geographic photographer, and the pair find themselves up against more than they expected, when poachers are allowed to hunt the gorillas and take trophies.

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It’s an honest, brutal look at world in which these animals live, those who fight to understand them, and those who could care less but simply want a prize.

Fossey becomes obsessed with her crusade to protect the animals, striking out at those who attack them, and while her allies question her right, and even her sanity to do such things, we see and understand her passion, but does she go too far or not? One could argue either way, and the viewer sees the repercussions of her actions and choices on her and those she cares about.

It’s a wonderfully powerful performance by Weaver, and fantastic subject matter, made all the more so because it’s based on a true story. It also boasts some lovely cinematography by John Seale.

On a side note, I love that Iain Glen shows up as one of Fossey’s assistants!

Gorillas in the Mist is a powerful tale of a brilliant woman who fought for something she believed in, and then paid the price for it, but her actions helped save a species from extinction, and brought an animal’s plight to the world.

This is, quite possibly, one of Weaver’s best roles. I’m looking forward to whatever film Ten Bad Dates With De Niro brings me next.

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