The grade ⅞ class from Snow Lake, Manitoba and the grade ⅞ class from Wingham, Ontario have read Half Brother by Kenneth Oppel over Skype or sometimes, our class radio station. After reading, both classes watched the movie Project Nim and wrote down similarities and differences of the movie compared to the book. There are many similarities, but there are also many differences between the two. Nim is from Project Nim and Zan is from Half Brother.
The similarities that I picked up on were that Nim and Wer don’t get along very well, and neither did Zan and Richard. Nim had bit Wer, not wanting him having anything to do with the family. Zan bit Richard, simply because Richard was getting on Zan’s nerves. Nim was sent to another place and he went with Herb, the scientist from Colombia University. After spending time with the Tomlins, Zan was sent with Dr.Helson to Nevada. Obviously as I have mentioned, both Nim and Zan bite really hard. Nim was given a doll so that he could cope not being with Stephanie. Zan was given a doll in Nevada so that he could also try to not be alone while he was away from the Tomlins. When Nim had left with Herb and Laura, Stephanie and Betty Lee were feeling down and disappointed. When the Tomlins had decided to let Zan go with Dr.Helson, they felt bad that they were leaving a young chimp around more territorial and older chimps, knowing that Zan would be much frightened.
The differences of the movie and book are very unique and interesting. The environment where Nim was going had many children. Where Zan was headed, there were only three other people. When Zan and Nim were heading to their new homes, the ‘parents’ and ‘siblings’ had not studied chimps, not knowing how they behave. When Nim had reached his new home, he progressed well and learned many signs very quick. Where as for Zan, he learned as many as 2 or 3 signs a week, and Nim had just about doubled that. Nim had a serious attitude. When Stephanie had entered the cage, he grabbed her by the ear and started dragging her around his cage. But Zan, was like a little angel compared to Nim, other than the biting. One time, Nim had bit one lady that had handled him for a while, and she bit him back as a sign to never bite again. But Zan was not disciplined when he bit Richard. When Nim was heading with Laura and Herb, he had no problem letting go and heading with people he knows. When Zan was in Dr.Helson’s holding area, Zan was afraid of letting go from the Tomlins because of the hooting from other chimps. When Nim misbehaved, he was zapped with an electrical rod to settle him down, but Zan was never zapped.
There were happy moments in this story, even though there has been electrocution used. If you don’t believe me, read what I have to mention. Nim had learned many signs when he was with Stephanie, not so much with Herb or Laura. Nim was showed that biting is nasty and painful, by getting bit himself. When Nim was finally purchased and kept for good, one man decided that he should keep Nim happy. This man’s name is Bob. Bob has generous and faithful enough to keep up his visits to Nim so that he doesn’t become wild.
Here, we’ll save the worst part until last, the disturbing things I saw. Nim was tranquilized so that he would settle down and ‘go to sleep’. Zan was tranquilized. Nim was also zapped by an electric rod in order for him to co operate with whoever was handling him. Zan wasn’t electrocuted. They showed Black Beauty Ranch where Nim was going, and there were skinny, neglected animals. In Half Brother, such scenes were never discussed in detail. The last and final thing I found disturbing was when they showed a knocked-out chimp being examined on and poked with needles. Zan was never treated with such disrespect.
There were so many things that I hadn’t known about before. One thing that I learned was that most female chimps are bred for research.. I also didn’t know that chimps were pained by electric rods and tranquilizers so that they could be taken. In order to understand Project Nim, you have to read Half Brother first. After hearing about the comparisons between the book and the move, would you consider adopting a chimp and looking after it as part of a project or for fun?