This extraordinary film presents an engrossing portrait of Dian Fossey, a primatologist who was murdered in 1975 after years of fighting to save the mountain gorillas of Rwanda, Africa from extinction.
In the most impressive and substantive performance of her careeer, Sigourney Weaver plays this indomitable Kentucky woman who in 1967 undertook a field study of primates under the auspices of Dr. Louis Leakey.
Shot on location in Africa, the drama, directed by Michael Apted, conveys the physical stamina and courage needed by Fossey to reach the region where the mountain gorillas live. It then reveals the ways in which she wins the trust of these gentle creatures with her patience and concern for them.
Fossey's field study turns out to be revolutionary in its approach and findings. However, over the years her work is threatened by the activities of a local tribe of poachers who slaughter the gorillas and sell their limbs to tourists. The natives also kidnap baby gorillas for shipment to overseas zoos. Fossey is enraged when government bureaucrats side with the traders and tribesmen who are bringing desperately needed revenues to a povety-stricken area.
When Fossey's favorite gorilla is killed, she launches her own private war. Neither the love of a freelance photographer (Bryan Brown) nor the counsel of moderation from student researchers can swerve her from a course of righteous indignation. This powerful film triumphs with its searing portrait of a scientist whose love for her subjects turns her into a crusader.