Archival director Brett Morgan ("The Kid Stays in the Picture") pieces together the early days in Africa of world-renown conservationist Jane Goodall from hundreds of hours of 16 mm footage taken by National Geographic wildlife photographer Hugo van Lawick. Goodall herself, now 83, provides the narration, describing in detail how her innate desire to live in Africa took precedence over the more traditional trappings, such as marriage and motherhood, made all the more compelling (and just a little bit sad) by her matter-of-fact delivery.
Morgan gives depth to Goodall's reputation by focusing on her unusual single-mindedness and allows her to answer those who dismissed her findings, more likely because she was a leggy blonde than not having any scientific training when she began her surveys. The male gaze is present in van Lawick's footage — Morgan and cinematographer Ellen Kuras manage to soften and brighten it — after all, the baron fell in love with her by watching her through his lens. And so do we.