Breakthroughs followed, including Goodall’s famous discovery that the chimps made tools — at the time something it was thought only man did — using twigs to help them catch termites to eat.
“Jane” then detours into both the public reaction to Goodall — with casually sexist headlines, one describing her as a “comely miss,” others indulging in Tarzan-Jane puns — and the complications and strains associated with the birth of her son, what with mom and dad’s globetrotting ways. (A vintage news clip shows the media’s predictable eagerness to paint him as some sort of exotic jungle boy — the aforementioned Lord Greystoke, only if his parents had survived.)
Featuring a customarily beautiful, lyrical score by Philip Glass, “Jane” grew out of a happenstance opportunity (van Lawick’s “lost” footage was found in a storage unit), but Morgen (“The Kid Stays in the Picture”) has turned it into a wonderful and stirring film.
Beyond being a testament to Goodall’s remarkable life, it’s also a thoughtful look at the sacrifices such a mission-driven existence requires. Yet it can also be enjoyed more simply as a beautiful nature film, demonstrating that even in this golden age for such fare, a la “Planet Earth,” Goodall’s pioneering work from a half-century ago still stands, proudly upright, alongside the best of them.
“Jane” premieres Oct. 20 in the U.S.