Simian Vérité

Series Site

This Summer, between monkey attacks large and small at the multiplex, Anthology presents SIMIAN VÉRITÉ: a screening series probing the eternal question of human-primate coexistence. The conundrum poses itself more literally in some cases than others – Nagisa Oshima’s serially underrated MAX MON AMOUR traces an untenable love affair between a socialite and a chimp, while Frederick Wiseman’s PRIMATE shows viewers the cold fundamentals of behavioral research (and, inevitably, the all-too-human power dynamics lurking beneath). The series includes classics of anthropoid camaraderie, including George Romero’s assisted-living cautionary tale MONKEY SHINES, Clint Eastwood’s brawling orangutan road comedy EVERY WHICH WAY BUT LOOSE, and Barbet Schroeder’s KOKO, A TALKING GORILLA – an examination of human cognition in flux across evolutionary generations. But it’s only fair that the series culminates in the late 70s with the release of Dino De Laurentiis’s KING KONG, depicting a more sympathetic gorilla king who, exploited by the postcolonial showbiz industrial complex, wages doomed revenge against an uncaring power structure. Center-staged for a new generation, Kong was xeroxed a year later in Runme Shaw’s special effects bonanza MIGHTY PEKING MAN, then eulogized in Marco Ferreri’s BYE BYE MONKEY – a quintessentially barbed rumination on the eternal line between man and his forebear, or what Huxley referred to as “ape and essence.”

Guest-programmed by Steve Macfarlane, who also wrote the introduction and film descriptions.