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Who’s to say where true happiness can be found? Some people make searching for happiness their whole existence and never find it. Dian Fossey, in the mountains of the Congo, not only found true happiness but also dedicated her life to saving mountain gorillas from extinction. Gorillas in the Mist is a remarkable film that reaches out to all, and brings to life animals versus mans basic need for survival. One person’s actions can make a difference. The viewer will be treated to an outstanding performance by Sigourney Weaver as she tries to save her family.

Movie
Sigourney Weaver plays real-life anthropologist Dian Fossey who traveled (rather naively in my opinion) to the Congo to research mountain gorillas initially for six months. Little did she know at the time that this was to be her life’s work. If nothing else, we learn mountain gorillas are indeed not apes in Dian Fossey’s opinion. Shot on location in Rwanda, the director Michael Apted invited viewers not only to glimpse the beauty of the country, but to also see the effects civil unrest within a country can have upon its people and the people who travel there. In filming Gorillas In the Mist, the government permitted only six crew members for one hour daily to be near the gorillas. What I find remarkable is that during the filming Sigourney Weaver was coached through an ear-piece about what to do if a gorilla charged her! By the way, if ever attacked by a gorilla, try to look as submissive as possible.

Gorillas In The Mist

John Omirah Miluwi plays Sembagare who is chosen by Sigourney Weaver as Dian Fossy to track the whereabouts of the mountain gorillas. It is not until they are deep in the jungle do we find out Sembagare has tracked everything from buffalo to baboons, but never gorillas. It never crossed Sigourney Weaver’s mind to ask him what kind of tracker he was. The interaction between Dian Fossey and Sembagare starts from one of innocence and shy humour and develops over the years to become an integral part of their existence. Obviously her research lasted many more years than the initially intended six months. Through their daily visits with the gorillas Dian slowly learns to communicate through imitation of their sounds and habits. Slowly and methodically, the gorillas learn to trust this outsider.

Without giving away the most incredible interaction between Dian Fossey and the gorillas, the bond that develops is like nothing else that anyone will ever experience in their life! They say humans are like animals. I think animals are more like humans.

Bryan Brown as Bob Campbell plays a great part as a photographer for National Geographic. From his initial introduction with Dian Fossey, we knew that unbeknownst to either of them, he would become the human love of her life. However, did her love for him surpass the love she had developed for her gorilla family? I would definitely recommend you see the film to find out.

Video
Presented in anamorphic widescreen 1.85.1, one definitely feels like they are truly in the deep mountain jungle of the Congo. The viewer is treated to some spectacular scenery that shows Africa’s beauty the way it is meant to be seen. The quality of the film overall is good, however, I found some scenes were not as clear as they could perhaps be. Sometimes the colours seemed muted, while at other times, the colours seemed to have been touched up. This certainly did not take enough away from the film. The film is presented in English, French and Italian with Subtitles in English, French, Italian, Dutch and Spanish.

Gorillas In The Mist

Audio
I especially liked the opening music presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 as it made one feel like they were going on an adventure, to a place they have never been before. Gorillas In The Mist takes us places where most will never see. If one closed their eyes, one would hear the animals and activity of the jungle, as well as the gorillas pounding on their chests. Imagine if technology was able to have the viewer smell the environment they are presented with as well?

I found some scenes were brilliant with the audio and while someone knocked on the door in the movie, I actually looked to see who was there. In the initial scenes, sometimes the dialogue was difficult to hear due to being filmed in an outdoor bazaar-type setting. Once the initial scene was finished, the audio quickly reverted back to almost a flat, monotoned pitch before changing again.

The music was sparingly used throughout the film so the viewer could focus on the plight of the mountain gorillas and Dian Fossey’s painstaking attempt to save them from extinction at all costs. Overall,  not a bad audio soundtrack for this release.

Extras
I especially enjoyed the theatrical trailer and if I had not seen the film before, the trailer would have made me want to see it. A featurette narrated by Jason Robards was also quite interesting and through the cast and crew feature, the viewer actually gets to see and hear Dian Fossey. I would have liked to hear from her more, but, like anything else in life, when something is enjoyable, human nature yearns for more. I enjoyed Sigourney Weaver discussing the role she played and the research that took place in playing the role. I would have also enjoyed hearing from Bryan Brown and John Omirah Miluwi, but they were unfortunately not included.

Gorillas In The Mist

Overall
The story of Dian Fossey’s life is a remarkable film with a brilliant cast and is the type of movie that one remembers their entire life. One woman’s quest for animal rights justice touched the lives of so many and literally saved the mountain gorillas from extinction. This was not solely about one woman’s dreams or aspirations to make a difference, but Dian Fossey’s life work which drew international fame and attention. Organizations have been set up to insure her life work was not in vain. Lives were lost, both human and animal, human greed reared its ugly head, yet the significant impact Dian Fossey had has saved the extinction of mountain gorillas. Her family becomes the viewers family and her loses are felt by all. Was it worth sacrificing everything?

In reality, many may not understand why it was so important to save the mountain gorillas, but this movie will touch the heart and soul of all who view it. Dian Fossey’s loss of life I believe insured that the work that she started would be carried on forever.


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