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Koko, A Talking Gorilla

Posted by martinteller on February 12, 2008

A compelling documentary, though perhaps not for the reasons Schroeder intends.  There’s no denying Koko possesses intelligence, she does communicate on some level.  But what’s more striking are the MANY instances where her trainer obviously fills in the gaps for her, guides her answers, or creatively interprets her fumblings as conversation.  After a while you get the feeling that all Koko ever really talks about is wanting more food or being tired of the training.  A lot of the “learning” appears to be rote responses (and usually not the correct one on the first try) to pre-ordained stimuli, without any understanding of the meaning.  There is anecdotal evidence that suggests a more advanced use of language, but we see little of it onscreen.  Also interesting is the viewpoint of the zookeeper (Schroeder, to his credit, treats him fairly) who questions the morality of the project, and whether or not it’s in Koko’s best interests.  The filmmaking itself is very straightforward documentary style.  Rating: 7


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