1988 Certificate: 12


Sigourney Weaver stars in the true story of Dian Fossey, an American anthropologist who made it her life's mission to save the mountain gorillas of Rwanda from extinction. Weaver earned a deserved Oscar nomination as the passionate yet perhaps foolhardy Fossey while exceptional work from make up legend Rick Baker makes it hard to distinguish her animatronic co-stars from the real thing. Director Michael Apted brings environment and atmosphere together to create a tender and often suspenseful, but ultimately moving whole.


  • Michael Apted


  • Sigourney Weaver

  • Bryan Brown

  • Julie Harris

  • Iain Cuthbertson


The amazing story of Dian Fossey, an intrepid American woman who studied, befriended and protected mountain gorillas in the wilds of Africa, doesn't have too many faults.

Overlength and a slight over-emphasis on Fossey's affair with a wildlife photographer are two of them, but they are far outweighed by its virtues.

Sigourney Weaver is perfectly cast as Fossey; you could imagine no more suitable actress to portray a dominant woman who fiercely defends (from poachers) territory she regards as her own.

The style of editing and the credit to ape makeup expert Rick Baker makes you doubt the authenticity of all the gorilla footage involved, but it cannot be questioned that Weaver was as courageous as her character in moving among the gorillas in their natural habitat.

The story is full of drama, and she takes charge of it from the start.

Bryan Brown, Julie Harris and Iain Cuthbertson (as her initial mentor) offer decent support, but the film is essentially Weaver and the gorillas; they come out as both winning and winners - plus there's an emotional and inspiring ending.