Wiseman’s visit to the Yerkes National Primate Research Center is a meticulous study of the processes used to test and document the behavior of various apes, including orangutans, chimps, and gorillas. Equal parts interspecies anthropological study and a slow-cooking horror-show, you’re just as likely to smile at nurses giving baby chimps little milk bottles and changing their diapers as you are to gasp at the harvesting of a gibbon’s brain. Wiseman balances long takes of surgery and observation with quick close-ups of the various instruments and machines used, representing increasingly experimental (think mad-scientist) procedures in excruciating detail, without sacrificing the sense of elapsed time.

Dir. Frederick Wiseman, 1974, 16mm, 105 min.

Watch the Cinefamily original trailer!