- photographer Bob Campbell, Fossey's lover (Bryan Brown) to Fossey (Sigourney Weaver)
"If any civil war comes my way, it had better watch its ass."
- Fossey to Dr. Leakey (Iain Cuthbertson)
New York Times - 09/23/1988
"...[Weaver acts with] intelligent, muscular resilience...and abandon....Engrossing..."
Los Angeles Times - 09/23/1988
"...With a sense of beauty and wonderment the film illuminates an extraordinary and unprecedented communication between a human being and the world's largest primates....The film has an absolutely stunning performance from Sigourney Weaver..."
Total Film - 12/01/2003
"...It's in the scenes of animal interaction that Sigourney Weaver stands out..."
Based on anthropologist Dian Fossey's autobiography, and an article by Harold T. P. Hayes, GORILLAS IN THE MIST is a portrait of the determined woman who will do anything to save the mountain gorillas that she studies, and for whose well-being she has a passionate commitment. In the process, she draws international attention to their declining population, yet her obsessive work to save them also eclipses her personal life and brings her into ruinous confrontation with relentless, impoverished poachers. At times recalling Joseph Conrad's HEART OF DARKNESS, the film touches on both Fossey's nobility--and inhumanity. To capture her passion, and the sublime African landscape, director Michael Apted (known for his documentary series 7 UP in Britain) shot on location in Rwanda, where the anthropologist lived and worked. Sigourney Weaver, playing Fossey, gives an intense portrayal (garnering an Academy Award nomination) of the woman who almost singlehandedly reversed the extinction of the mountain gorillas in Africa.
The story of real-life anthropologist Dian Fossey, who studied the behavior of rare gorillas in the mountains of Africa--where her interest turns to passion and tragic obsession--is captured on-screen in an Oscar-nominated performance by Sigourney Weaver. Directed by Michael Apted (of the British documentary series 7 UP), the film presents a view of a woman whose determination was inspiring, yet at times, frightening, in the methods in which she chose to be true to her mission. The product of a physically grueling shoot in the mountains of Africa, GORILLAS IN THE MIST offers stunning landscape shots and arresting footage of actress Weaver in close contact with real gorillas.
Fossey had agreed to work with producer Arnold Glimcher and Universal Pictures to make a film about her life; as fate would have it, she was murdered a few hours before she was to meet Glimcher for the first time. Wayne McGuire, Fossey's last research assistant, was convicted in absentia in a Rwandan court for her murder; most of Fossey's friends, however, believe that the real killer was never caught.
Although crews of more than a hundred are common in Hollywood shoots, only a crew of six, including Weaver, was permitted to be near the gorillas; additionally, the government allowed just one hour of filming with the animals each day. Due to these limitations, director Apted often had to double as an assistant cameraman.
Fossey's tracker taught Weaver the body gestures and vocal noises to communicate with the apes. During filming, she was coached through an ear piece; when charged by a gorilla, the actress was told to look as submissive as possible, which meant making herself smaller than the gorilla and avoiding eye contact.
The film crew's base camp was at 8500 feet; Karisoke Research Center, where Fossey worked, was at 12,000 feet, which required a hardy film crew who could withstand the rigors of the daily climb to the location. Many Rwandans served as porters and messengers.