Koko: A Talking Gorilla

Director: Barbet Schroeder
Year Released: 1978
Rating: 0.5

Schroeder visits Dr. Penny Patterson and her "miraculous" female gorilla Koko and films Patterson trying to "teach" her hairy protégé American Sign Language. Unfortunately, the documentary never moves past the Fascination Stage, failing to get any actual experts in language acquisition on screen (what, was Noam Chomsky too busy?) to question the legitimacy of Patterson's program (Schroeder and his crew act like they're working for a local TV station and on a strict deadline). I wasn't personally convinced that Koko really 'knew' anything and it doesn't take a linguistics expert to be a little suspicious of Patterson's methods (she signs and then Koko mimics her) or her grand 'interpretations' of whatever it is the gorilla does (Koko waves her arms and Patterson creates some vague correlation as to what it means). In short: highly dubious filmmaking. Apple nipple monkey.