Gorillas in the Mist
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|Gorillas in the Mist|
|Directed by||Michael Apted|
|Screenplay by||Anna Hamilton Phelan|
|Based on||Gorillas in the Mist|
by Dian Fossey
|Edited by||Stuart Baird|
|Music by||Maurice Jarre|
The Guber-Peters Company
|Box office||$61.1 million|
Gorillas in the Mist[a] is a 1988 American biographical drama film directed by Michael Apted from a screenplay by Anna Hamilton Phelan and a story by Phelan and Tab Murphy. The film is based on the work by Dian Fossey and the article by Harold T. P. Hayes. It stars Sigourney Weaver as naturalist Dian Fossey and Bryan Brown as photographer Bob Campbell. It tells the story of Fossey, who came to Africa to study the vanishing mountain gorillas, and later fought to protect them.
The film was theatrically released in the United States by Universal Pictures on September 23, 1988. At the 61st Academy Awards, it earned five nominations, including Best Actress for Weaver and Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium. The film won Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama for Weaver and Best Original Score for Jarre at the 46th Golden Globe Awards, where it was also nominated for Best Motion Picture – Drama.
Occupational therapist Dian Fossey is inspired by anthropologist Louis Leakey to devote her life to the study of primates. She writes ceaselessly to Leakey for a job cataloging and studying the rare mountain gorillas of Africa. Following him to a lecture in Louisville, Kentucky in 1966, she convinces him of her conviction.
They travel to the Congo, where Leakey and his foundation equip her to make contact with the gorillas, and introduce her to a local animal tracker, Sembagare. Settling deep in the jungle, Fossey and Sembagare locate a troop of gorillas, but are displaced by the events of the Congo Crisis and forcibly evicted from their research site by Congolese soldiers, who accuse Fossey of being a foreign spy and agitator.
Fossey is resigned to returning to the United States, but Sembagare and her temporary host Rosamond Carr motivate her to stay in Africa. Fossey establishes new research efforts in the jungles of neighboring Rwanda, where rampant poaching and corruption become apparent when she discovers several traps near her new base at Karisoke. Nevertheless, Fossey and her colleagues make headway with the gorillas, taking account of their communication and social groups. Her work impresses Leakey and gains international attention.
National Geographic, which funds her efforts, dispatches photographer Bob Campbell to highlight her research. Fossey, initially unreceptive, grows increasingly attached to Campbell after several photo sessions with the gorillas, and the two become lovers, in spite of Campbell's marriage. Campbell proposes to divorce his wife and marry Fossey but insists that she would have to spend time away from Karisoke and her gorillas, leading her to end their relationship. Fossey forms an emotional bond with a gorilla named Digit, and attempts to prevent the export of other gorillas by trader Van Vecten.
Appalled by the poaching of the gorillas for their skins, hands, and heads, Fossey complains to the
On December 27, 1985, Dian Fossey is murdered in the bedroom of her cabin by an unseen assailant. At a funeral attended by Sembagare, Carr, and others, she is buried in the same cemetery where Digit and other gorillas had been laid to rest. Sembagare symbolically links the graves of Fossey and Digit with stones as a sign that their souls rest in peace together before leaving.
The epilogue text explains that Fossey’s actions helped save the gorillas from extinction, while her death remains a mystery.
- Sigourney Weaver as Dian Fossey
- Bryan Brown as Bob Campbell
- Julie Harris as Roz Carr
- John Omirah Miluwi as Sembagare
- Iain Cuthbertson as Dr. Louis Leakey
- Constantin Alexandrov as Van Vecten
- Waigwa Wachira as Mukara
- Iain Glen as Brendan
- David Lansbury as Larry
- Maggie O'Neill as Kim
- Konga Mbandu as Rushemba
- Michael J. Reynoldsas Howard Dowd
- Gordon Masten as the Photographer
- Peter Nduati as Batwa chief
- Helen Fraser as Mme. Van Vecten
- John Alexander as Mime Artist
- Peter Elliott as Mime Artist
- Denise Cheshire as Mime Artist
- Antonio Hoyos as Mime Artist
- Jody St. Michael as Mime Artist
- David Maddock as himself
The screenplay was adapted by
- Peggy Lee – "September in the Rain" (written by Harry Warren & Al Dubin)
- Peggy Lee – "It's a Good Day" (written by Peggy Lee & Dave Barbour)
- Peggy Lee – "Sugar" (written by Maceo Pinkard & Sidney D. Mitchell & Edna Alexander)
Gorillas in the Mist started an exclusive run on 15 screens on September 23, 1988 and grossed $366,925. It expanded to 558 screens the following weekend and was the number one film for the weekend with a gross of $3,451,230. The film went on to gross $24,720,479 in the United States and Canada and $36,429,000 internationally for a worldwide total of $61,149,479.
The film received generally positive reviews from critics, with many praising both Weaver's performance and the technical accomplishments of the movie while some were frustrated by the lack of depth in Fossey's on-screen characterization. On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, 84% of 19 critics' reviews are positive, with an average rating of 6.7/10.
"At last, [Weaver] may have found a part cut to her scale." wrote Hal Hinson of The Washington Post. "It's a great role for her to pour herself into, and she doesn't skimp." However, he had his misgivings about the restrictions placed on Fossey's character: "The chief problem with Gorillas in the Mist is that it banalizes its heroine; it turns her into one of us. And by all accounts Fossey was anything but ordinary." He also accused the filmmakers of toning down Fossey's unstable mental state: "Fossey was more than merely eccentric...The movie hints at these aspects of her character but tries to soften them;...the filmmakers have done more than sanitize Fossey's life, they've deprived it of any meaning." Hinson concluded that "Gorillas in the Mist isn't a terrible film, but it is a frustrating one."
While Roger Ebert was also happy with the casting of Weaver as Fossey ("It is impossible to imagine a more appropriate choice for the role"), he felt the character was too distanced from the audience and that her development and motives were unclear. "Gorillas in the Mist tells us what Dian Fossey accomplished and what happened to her, but it doesn't tell us who she was, and at the end that's what we want to know." However, Ebert was impressed by the scenes with the gorillas and the way live footage of gorillas was seamlessly blended with gorilla costumes: "Everything looked equally real to me, and the delicacy with which director Michael Apted developed the relationships between woman and beast was deeply absorbing. There were moments when I felt a touch of awe. Those moments, which are genuine, make the movie worth seeing."
Hinson also agreed that "whenever the cameras turn on the gorillas — who are the film's true stars — you feel you're witnessing something truly great."
The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:
- 2003: AFI's 100 Years...100 Heroes & Villains:
- Dian Fossey – Nominated Hero
- 2006: AFI's 100 Years...100 Cheers – Nominated
- ^ Also known as Gorillas in the Mist: The Adventure of Dian Fossey.
- ^ Tied with Jodie Foster for The Accused and Shirley MacLaine for Madame Sousatzka.
- ^ a b c d "Gorillas in the Mist". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved March 24, 2023.
- ^ McCarthy, Todd (October 5, 1988). "'Gorillas' Goes Ape; 'Delancey' Keen; 'Hotel' A Disney Heartbreaker". Variety. p. 3.
- ^ "Gorillas in the Mist". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved March 24, 2023.
- ^ Hinson, Hal (23 September 1988). "Gorillas in the Mist". The Washington Post. Retrieved 13 June 2011.
- ^ Ebert, Roger (September 23, 1988). "Gorillas in the Mist". Roger Ebert. Roger Ebert. Retrieved 13 June 2011.
- ^ "The 61st Academy Awards (1989) Nominees and Winners". Oscars. Retrieved October 16, 2011.
- BAFTA. 1990. Retrieved 16 September 2016.
- ^ "Chicago Film Critics Awards – 1988–97". Chicago Film Critics Association. Archived from the original on 22 April 2016. Retrieved 21 July 2015.
- HFPA. Retrieved July 5, 2021.
- ^ "1988 Award Winners". National Board of Review. Retrieved July 5, 2021.
- ^ "Awards Winners". wga.org. Writers Guild of America. Archived from the original on 2012-12-05. Retrieved 2010-06-06.
- ^ "AFI's 100 Years...100 Heroes & Villains Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved August 14, 2016.
- ^ "AFI's 100 Years...100 Cheers Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved August 14, 2016.
- 1988 films
- 1980s adventure drama films
- 1980s biographical drama films
- American adventure drama films
- American biographical drama films
- Biographical films about scientists
- Environmental films
- Films about animal rights
- Films directed by Michael Apted
- Films featuring a Best Drama Actress Golden Globe-winning performance
- Films set in Africa
- Films about gorillas
- Films set in Rwanda
- Films shot in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
- Universal Pictures films
- Warner Bros. films
- Films scored by Maurice Jarre
- Films shot in Kenya
- Films shot in England
- Films shot in Rwanda
- Films shot in Toronto
- Films set in 1966
- Films set in 1985
- Films with screenplays by Tab Murphy
- 1988 drama films
- 1980s English-language films
- 1980s American films