Answering the Many Questions About ‘The One and Only Ivan’

Posted in 18/09/2020

The real Ivan, who was caged in a shopping mall for 27 years until being released to a zoo. Credit… Will Mcintyre/The LIFE Images Collection, via Getty Images

The new Disney+ film about a talented gorilla might leave you wondering about the real great ape that inspired the story. We have answers.

By Amy Nicholson (The New York Times)

Can a gorilla ape Banksy? That’s the setup of Disney’s new animal rights flick, “The One and Only Ivan,” inspired by the true story of a silverback gorilla who spent 27 years intimidating children at a shopping mall in Tacoma, Wash. In the film, he becomes politicized over his imprisonment and expresses his outrage through art. Directed by Thea Sharrock and based on K.A. Applegate’s Newbery Award-winning book of the same title, this retelling is candy sweet compared with the real Ivan’s cameo in the 1991 documentary “The Urban Gorilla,” which turned him into a 500-pound cause célèbre. This computer-animated Ivan is able to speak for himself (in the voice of Sam Rockwell). As legal efforts in Germany, Argentina and the Balearic Islands have established precedents that could make primate personhood a future civil rights fight, what’s the film’s ratio of fiction to fact? We answer this and other questions below.

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