Jane Goodall is the world's leading figure in animal research and wildlife conservation. Her pioneering study of chimpanzee behavior in Gombe Stream National Park in Tanzania transformed our perceptions of the relationship between humans and animals. This work continues today, more than 50 years after she first set foot in the area at age 26, now under the leadership of the Jane Goodall Institute. In addition, her Roots & Shoots program promotes environmental awareness and community involvement of young people, senior citizens, and prisoners in 120 countries through education and hands-on-activities.

In Jane's Journey, German documentary filmmaker Lorenz Knauer has fashioned an engrossing and multidimensional portrait of this extraordinary woman whose commitment and passion for animals and the good Earth makes her one of the genuine heroes of our time. He presents an up-close encounter with Goodall's public and private lives using rare photographs and film footage from her carefree childhood in England to her years of solitary research observing the chimpanzees of Gombe to her decision 25 years ago to take on a very public role and do the great work of saving the planet. Now 77 years old, she spends an average of 300 days a year traveling around the world giving lectures, checking in with people involved with her Roots & Shoots programs, signing books in stores, meeting with activists and philantropists like Angelina Jolie, and consulting with world leaders such as Kofe Annan of the United Nations as a U.N. Ambassador of Peace.

We learn about Goodall's marriages and her continuously evolving relationship with her son Hugo. We hear her high praise for Louis Leakey who believed women were better observers of wildlife because of their patience and gave her a chance to do what she wanted most. We sense the magic and mystery she feels in the presence of wild chimpanzees with their distinctive minds, moods, and feelings.

Goodall's sister points out that she is totally consumed by her work on behalf of interspecies community and mending the broken planet. She describes her mission simply: "My mission is giving people hope." She travels to the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, the suicide capital of the U.S., to Greenland to see the effects of global warming on the ice pack, and to elsewhere — anywhere that her message needs to be heard.

People are astonished to find that she takes no vacations and even uses her holidays to catch up on odds-and-ends. In this regard Goodall is similar to another global leader. Late in Mahatma Gandhi's life a Western journalist asked, "'Mr. Gandhi, you've been working fifteen hours a day for fifty years. Don't you ever feel like taking a few weeks off and going for a vacation?" Gandhi laughed and said, "Why? I am always on vacation."

Goodall, like Gandhi, believes that full effort is the only way to go. The result is a joy and inner contentment that cannot be matched or ever taken away. Don't miss Jane's Journey! It is one of the best documentaries of 2011 and a beacon of light for all who see our times as a very dark and hopeless period of history.

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