While watching the plot of Monkey Kingdom unfold, I became very curious about just how directed many of the scenes were.

This is perhaps a slightly broad question, but I think it's still a good one.

How much of this movie was just the natural behavior being observed in the wild, being explained for what it really was, and how much was "man made" or manipulated, or filmed in a way as to make things appear to follow the plot of the story rather than what naturally would be happening?

For example:

  • the invading monkey attack
  • the killed monkey
  • the civilization scenes
  • the animal population at the rock
  • the baby monkey being stolen from his mother

I'd just like to generally know how much of this film is authentically scripted by nature, and how much of it is forced or assisted by the film crew.


1 Answer 1


From the words on Mark Linfield (co-director and producer) from npr.org :-

One of the reasons that these monkeys are relatively easy to film in some sense — and by that I mean in the sense of getting close to them — is that there's been a monkey study there for 50 years. Round the clock, pretty much, these animals have been studied by researchers and they're known incredibly well, so they were incredibly good at deciphering the monkey's behaviors and also helping us to anticipate what would happen next. ...

They do so much and every single animal is doing something interesting pretty much all the time [so] that if you don't stay focused, after 2 1/2 years of filming in the field, which is what we spent, you would just end up with hundreds of hours of just wonderful material but not being able to make head or tail of it. So you really have to decide which characters to follow. And once you've committed to them, of course, you hope that their story becomes interesting.

From the interview of Jane Goodall for the birthday scene :_

Q : One memorable scene shows the monkeys raiding a birthday party. How was that filmed?

Ans : Well first of all, the monkeys—the lower-ranking ones—regularly go out of the forest into the city because the higher ranking monkeys get all the best food in the forest. So they have to try and supplement their diet, and there they are living on the outskirts of the city.

The birthday party—they knew there was a birthday party happening. They knew the monkeys were likely to be making a raid about that time because the monkeys have been studied for 40 years and their patterns of behavior are pretty well known. So all the team did, they persuaded the people putting on the birthday party not to chase the monkeys away and promised that they would buy more food. [laughs]

From wikipedia:-

Dr. Wolfgang Dittus was the scientific consultant and has been studying the macaque monkeys of Sri Lanka for nearly 50 years. His and Jane Goodall’s study at Gombe are the longest running studies of wild primates. For the film, Dittus helped select the monkey characters and decipher their behaviour.

So it all shows that how thinks work around in the production side, and they clearly stated that Dittus and Wolfgang's studies were the main help behind the documentary. And it was all filmed naturally without a script, they just used their natural behaviors to their use and might given few opportunity like a birthday party to easily crash etc else were all natural.


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