October 14, 2012 |
A young woman of wrenlike delicacy stood onstage at the Agnes Irwin School in Bryn Mawr and told a harrowing story that the girls in the room, smart though they were, could not grasp. In 1994, when Francine Mugueni was 4, her parents and six siblings were slaughtered in the Rwandan genocide, in which nearly a million people were killed in 100 days. Left behind to mourn and bury the bodies were mostly women and orphans like Mugueni and her 14-year-old sister. To have money to survive, they dropped out of school and cleaned offices.
July 24, 1994 |
If warring factions and streams of refugees continue to leave them alone, Rwanda's population of mountain gorillas may emerge unscathed from the country's devastating civil war. Being left alone does not, however, guarantee a future for the great apes of northwestern Rwanda, part of a population of about 300 mountain gorillas living high in the Virunga Mountains on the borders of Rwanda, Zaire and Uganda. These gorillas constitute half the world's number of the endangered subspecies.
March 26, 1993 |
I climbed the slope of the volcano slowly, knowing the gorillas were near, just beyond the green tangle of thistle and nettle in front of me. Suddenly the wall of vegetation exploded as Bilbo, the dominant silverback male of a group of gorillas studied by researchers, thundered toward me, sending me flying backward, tumbling head over heels to the bottom of this large salad bowl. I lay laughing uncontrollably, heady from the adrenaline pumping through me, happy to have survived, though ungracefully, my first personal encounter with one of the Karisoke Research Center's groups of wild mountain gorillas in Rwanda.
May 19, 1991 |
The 1988 movie Gorillas in the Mist helped make mountain-gorilla tours popular in Rwanda, but an insurgency there has largely ended the tours and naturalists voice some fear for the gorillas' welfare. About 310 mountain gorillas survive in Rwanda's Kagera National Park, where armed rebels of the Rwandese Patriotic Front have been present since early this year. Since January, a group of seven or eight gorillas known as Group 9 has been missing, according to a spokeswoman for the Digit Fund, the nonprofit organization set up by the famed gorilla researcher, Dian Fossey, to protect the gorillas.
October 21, 1988 |
In the deceptively short book Marilyn: Norma Jeane, with photographs by George Barris (Signet, $4.95), author Gloria Steinem writes: "If you add her years of movie stardom to the years since her death, Marilyn Monroe has been part of our lives and imaginations for nearly four decades. That's a very long time for one celebrity to survive in a throwaway culture. " You get a memorable reason why in Barris' first photograph of Monroe: The 36-year-old woman who still looks like a little girl stares at us with a vulnerability that shrivels the heart.
October 4, 1988 |
Sigourney (nee Susan) Weaver, who got her first name out of "The Great Gatsby" and her lower extremities maybe from Legs by the Yard, is talking about making a movie about gorillas in Africa. She is dressed, headful of tousled mahogany curls to velvety, funny-toed high heels, in unnecessarily slimming, totally tasteful black, the only jewelry accents a bracelet of little colored balls, some mid-size faux pearl earrings that jiggle gently when she emphasizes a point, and a simple wedding band.
September 30, 1988 |
Gorillas in the Mist is a conventional Hollywood treatment of a most unconventional figure: Dian Fossey, who saved the mountain-gorilla species from extinction at the cost of her own life. As Gorilla Girl Dian Fossey, Sigourney Weaver leads with her jaw like the young Katharine Hepburn and keeps this movie - two movies, really - together by sheer force of personality. One of the films here, of course, is the biography of Fossey, an American physical therapist who became a primate authority in Rwanda, where she went to conduct a census of the vanishing mountain gorilla.
September 30, 1988 |
Before I saw "Gorillas in the Mist," I didn't know very much about its subject, Dian Fossey - only that she was a woman who did important research about African gorillas and that she was mysteriously and savagely murdered. Yet except for a few details, I could have written the synopsis for this movie. You see, I had already seen "Out of Africa," "The Big Blue" and "Never Cry Wolf. " I knew that Dian would suffer culture shock when she arrived in Africa, would have to shed her Western ways, would develop a deep relationship with a loyal but not subservient native aide, would be enchanted by the gorillas, would eventually become obsessed with them to the point of renouncing the love of humans.
September 29, 1988 |
Dian Fossey was a lonely kid from a home of economic privilege who ate in the kitchen with the help and wasn't allowed to have a pet any more intrusive than a goldfish. She said it had been her destiny since birth to go to Africa. She got there with her Peggy Lee records, her cigarettes and her sponge rollers in the mid-'60s, leaving her job with handicapped kids, her appendix and her doctor fiance behind in Kentucky. For the next 18 years she took on the Batwa pygmies, the bureaucrats, the tourists, the zoo merchants - in short, the entire culture of the little landlocked country of Rwanda in east central Africa, in the utterly single-minded service of saving the last 200 or so mountain gorillas on earth.
July 26, 1987 |
When a movie goes ape, the director risks going nuts. There's nothing simple about telling simians how to act - as the last two filmmakers to bring it off will fervently attest. It used to be that audiences would accept men in monkey suits when apes were required, but expectations are much higher these days. When he needed to shoot the ape sequences in Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes (1984), Hugh Hudson compromised. For the apes that raise the infant Tarzan, Hudson used both real animals and men in suits.