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A History of Apes In Movies from Michael Marisol

posted by Nell Minow

My friend Michael Mirasol has put together another magnificent compilation — this time it’s a history of apes and monkeys in film.  How many can you identify?  He writes:

Non-human primates have existed on film from the art form’s inception, primarily as sideshow spectacles, most notably in King Kong (1933). Their display for our amusement is perhaps an extension of the tradition of the zoo and the circus, where such creatures are viewed more as oddities than as fellow earthly denizens.

Rarely have these creatures been viewed on their own terms. They have been human sidekicks, villains, accomplices and lab rats. They’ve drank our booze, laughed (or cringed) at our jokes, and played our sports. Even in the most thought-provoking films that feature them, rarely have we been given the benefit of their perspective. But in reality, how can we? W.G. Sebald once said that “Men and animals regard each other across a gulf of mutual incomprehension.” We cannot help but humanize creatures in which we see our resemblance so that we can relate to them.

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