Counting Up Again

Gorillas in the Mist begins with a comically idealist Dian Fossey, entering the Congo to study gorillas, but lost as to what that ultimately entails. It’s Hollywood in its methods, slightly humorous and goofy as to offset what Fossey (Sigourney Weaver) inevitably does to stem poaching.

There’s an infinitely more complex, thematic third act on which to base this story. Instead, the script chooses a more methodical approach, languishing on a crummy romance that presents Fossey as immoral for sleeping with a married man as her own fiance awaits her back home. It’s tiresome and judgmental, as if Fossey’s sex life matters at all to her research, accomplishments, and eventually, her increasingly violent reaction to scummy local capitalists selling monkey paws.

Gorillas in the Mist too often sways from its namesake

Fossey loses her sanity in a rage. New students following her efforts break down in tears as Fossey puts a noose around a poacher’s neck, the racial component not lost. For ten minutes, Gorillas in the Mist poses a frightening social circumstance, which after building Fossey as an almost angelic hero, shreds that mystique. She’s not perfect, but human, and Gorillas in the Mist considers the hypocrisy. Underdeveloped scum Van Veeten (Constantin Alexander) verbally accosts an aggressive Fossey, noting she, like so many, witnessed their first ape in a zoo; it’s an economy, which furthers African causes and he merely facilitates.

Almost imperceptibly mixing suits and genuine gorilla footage, the animals convincingly bridge this story. Given the focus on Fossey’s romantic life, Gorillas in the Mist too often sways from its namesake. There’s less learned about these wild creatures and human evolution – the reason Fossey studies – than about gruesome violence toward the apes. Fossey’s work educated and expanded knowledge, yet the movie bounces off those legitimate causes.

Poaching is easy to understand. It’s akin to Nazis – put them on the screen, and the opposing protagonist is an instant hero. That simplicity lets down Gorillas in the Mist, keeping the difficult and controversial topics confined to the last act. Said choice means Gorillas in the Mist doesn’t need to enlarge the conversation, dealing with it nearly out of spite since comparable biopics concern only empathy, maybe addiction. Here’s a woman on the brink of murder, a vicious turn, and crudely through the love affair, implies a lack of moral character. That’s a failing to an otherwise beautifully shot film.

Video

If Gorillas in the Mist were made up of watercolor paintings, this disc would score highly. This ghastly master shows egregious noise reduction/filtering, choking out detail, and ruining the location beauty. Smearing appears commonly, which isn’t helped by compression.

Note grain does remain on the source – quite a bit actually – but the effort falters due to the digital tools. It’s a mess. Some ringing increases the problematic transfer’s issues. Mostly, the print stays clean, if enduring the occasional dusty moment.

A little faded over the years, saturation loses zip, but still produces appealing primaries. Greens in the jungle stand out, as do various wardrobe choices. It’s not a transfer without intensity in this regard, and same goes for contrast. Sunlight beams in, creating highlights, even slight clipping. Muddier black levels falter because of crush, unkind to shadows. Depth loss is minimal though.

Audio

Late ’80s audio springs into 5.1 convincingly, although primarily due to the score that fills the soundstage. That’s full and expansive, the orchestration gorgeous.

Sound effects split the stereos more than enter the rears. The jump between speakers convincingly creates width across the fronts, spacious and accurate. At times, fidelity withers, likely more to do with the recording conditions than this DTS-HD track.

Extras

Nothing. Gorillas in the Mist boots right to the movie without a menu.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

Gorillas in the Mist
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Dian Fossey’s life is explored in a routine biopic, Gorillas in the Mist, which fails in focusing on what matters or the complex.

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