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See Jane Inspire

12 Dec, 2011 By: Ashley Ratcliff

Dr. Goodall shares life’s mission of bringing hope in insightful documentary

Dr. Jane Goodall first made waves in 1960 when she, at age 26, immersed herself in the forests of Tanzania — no degree, just pencil, notebook and passion — to study wild chimpanzees. Decades later, Goodall, 77, is as busy as she’s ever been.

First Run Features sends out Jane’s Journey Dec. 27 on DVD ($27.95). The documentary tells Goodall’s backstory with archival footage and home videos, and attempts to keep up with the astute primatologist turned steadfast conservationist as she travels around the globe, speaking about the importance of making the planet a better place for current and future generations.

The film also features interviews with Goodall’s son, Hugo Eric Louis van Lawick, whom she affectionately calls “Grub,” and actors Pierce Brosnan and Angelina Jolie.

Although much already has been written and filmed about Goodall, director Lorenz Knauer set out to do what others before him hadn’t done.

“He wanted to try to understand, who was the person who could cause audiences to be so inspired and cause children to listen so attentively?” Goodall said. “Who was she, and what made her tick? I thought, if he does it the way he’s explained, it will take my message out to places I can’t go.”

Goodall travels 300 days out of the year, never staying in one place for more than three weeks at a time. Twice annually, she returns to Gombe Stream National Park in East Africa, the place her journey began, to “recharge” her “spiritual batteries.”

At the time of this interview, Goodall was en route to her hometown of Bournemouth, England, for three days of relaxation, before jet setting yet again.

Since ending her pioneering chimpanzee study in Gombe Stream National Park in 1986, Goodall’s focus has shifted from one of discovering the nuances of these curious primates to making sure their habitats remain in perpetuity.

“Since all the problems on the planet are interconnected … I think what people need to realize is that every day each one of us lives, we do make a difference on the planet,” Goodall said. “If we think about the consequences of the little choices we make — what we buy, eat, wear — that may not specifically save chimpanzees, per se, but by the time you get millions upon millions of people making the right decisions … then we’ll start to see change.”

In 1977 Goodall established the Jane Goodall Institute, which aims to motivate people to respect and protect all living things. It now has offices in 27 countries.

She also encourages young people around the world to promote harmony between the natural world and humans through her Roots & Shoots organization, which creates projects benefiting people, animals and the environment. It is active in more than 120 countries.

With ongoing global problems such as climate change and deforestation becoming an uphill battle, one could become disheartened and give up. However, a resilient Goodall said the positive experiences of following her passion greatly outweigh the difficult times.

“Of course, there are moments you can’t avoid when you’re particularly tired, exhausted, depressed and you’ve really worked for something, and it goes wrong,” she said. “But fortunately, I suppose it was the way I was raised, but I’m able to bounce back up gain. It just makes me fight even harder.

“If we lose hope, there isn’t any hope left,” she added. “So my job is to inspire people and give them hope, so that everybody does their bit.”

Jane’s Journey also includes an exclusive interview with Jolie and more information about Roots & Shoots.

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