A few years ago, National Geographic released a beautifully filmed biopic called Jane on famed primatologist Jane Goodall. The film helped explain how someone with no scientific experience ended up in Africa studying chimpanzees in the hope it would shed light on the origins of human behavior. But, despite a compelling story and restored archival footage, Jane seemed incomplete. While it told the story of how Goodall ended up both a scientist and a public figure, the scenes of her in the present day (to the extent pre-2017 resembles the present day) show that she's left her research behind to become an advocate for conservation.
How she went from the researcher shown in Jane to the head of an international non-profit was left as an exercise to the viewer to figure out. So, I was excited to see that National Geographic had a follow-up documentary, Jane Goodall: The Hope, in the works. What follows is part review and part interview with Goodall.
For me, the hope was that The Hope would trace how Goodall managed the transition from researcher to international environmental advocate. Instead, the film simply gives a picture of what her life is like today, moving among her projects and following her hectic travel schedule. In that sense, the two documentaries act more like bookends on her career.
The Hope seems to be very conscious of its role as a potential closing chapter. There are several moments when either Goodall or those close to her talk about how she can't keep up her present pace forever, and there's one point when Goodall considers her own death. But in our conversation, she was anything but ready to stop. "There may be another phase [in my career], you never know," she told Ars. And she was anxious to talk about upcoming projects, like a celebration of the 60th anniversary of the start of her research at Gombe National Park.
The film is sprinkled with lots of projects she's involved in now, which operate under the umbrella of the Jane Goodall Institute. The Hope shows a number of these: her Roots and Shoots program for young people, a sanctuary for orphaned chimps, and a hectic speaking schedule that keeps her traveling nearly constantly. We asked Goodall about how she chose which projects she got involved with, but she said, "I don't know that I do really choose—the Institute chooses many." Those choices included the documentary itself, as Goodall admitted, "I wasn't anxious to do another, but the Institute was."
Goodall made clear, however, that that sort of structure was essential, as she felt that "there are so many things I need to help with." As a result, she said there are now 24 national Jane Goodall Institutes, and 64 countries have a chapter of her Roots and Shoots program. We get to see her talking to Roots and Shoots members in the UK and Tanzania during the documentary, but the full scope of its activities aren't apparent.
Roots and Shoots also plays a practical role: Goodall says the programs have planted as many as 4.5 million trees each year, which more than offsets the carbon emissions of her heavy travel schedule. We see a bit of that travel during The Hope and get a few incidental tips from Goodall on how to manage traveling light. She keeps it up because she feels a personal appeal can work for both general audiences and the business and political leaders that she wants as allies in her conservation efforts. When asked about the importance of reaching these different audiences, she told Ars, "I think we need to take every avenue we can," and "We're in such a mess with the climate crisis that I think [appealing to] both are important."
“Why do they love me… ?”
The fact that she can make effective appeals to both leaders and the public in so many countries is astonishing, given the cultural differences in humanity's approach to conservation. Goodall herself seems perplexed by it, saying, "I sometimes ask myself that—why do they love me in China, Malaysia, America, and the UAE?" The possible answers she shared during the interview—&quRead More – Source