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Stanford Live

Gorillas in the Mist

Kimberly Pross

Each week, Stanford Under the Stars: Movie Nights at Frost brings a selection of movies featuring actors who attended Stanford or various Stanford and Northern California filming locations. Sigourney Weaver (’72) transferred to Stanford after freshman year at Sarah Lawrence College and has described this as one of the best decisions she made. Weaver majored in English and immersed herself in acting not in the drama department but through a group she and other students founded called the Palo Alto Company. Weaver didn’t intend to become an actor—she considered pursuing a Ph.D. in English or a career in journalism, but after graduation she briefly attended drama school at Yale before leaving to act professionally in off-Broadway productions. She got her big break after being cast in Alien and built an impressive career afterwards, appearing in movies such as Ghostbusters (1984) and Gorillas in the Mist (1988).

This film is an adaptation of wildlife expert Dian Fossey’s autobiography. Midwesterner Fossey (Sigourney Weaver) leaves the United States for Africa, where she studies the gorillas of Rwanda and Uganda. As Fossey develops a bond with the animals, she also becomes wary of the poachers who prey on them. Fearing that the gorillas will go extinct if humans continue to hunt them, she organizes a defense league to protect the animals; in doing so, though, she puts herself in a perilous situation.