A little girl sees a giraffe in a zoo. Decades later, the wise old woman she became retells the tale and the revelatory tone remains in her voice.
This 2018 documentary chronicles the life of Dr. Anne Innis Dagg, the first person (in 1956) to scientifically study the giraffe in the wild and who went on, literally, to write the book on the animal. She later became an activist for women's rights, in part because she kept getting passed over for positions and tenure despite having amassed qualifications greater than those of her male colleagues. She quickly discovered that experience was not unusual.
The mainstream mostly ignored her. We relate better to the subjects of Jane Goodall and Dian Fossey and Birutė Galdikas's studies, because the great apes resemble us. Giraffe seem like aliens. However, she developed a celebrity status among the "Giraffe Community" of naturalists, biologists, and zookeepers. The cameras follow her to a giraffe conference whose participants treat her with a reverence few of us will ever experience.
The real power and joy in this documentary come from her own words and images. She shot a lot of colour film in the 1950s, visions of giraffes and a part of Africa now changed forever. Tatiana Maslany (of Orphan Black fame) reads Dagg's old notes and letters in voice-over, the voice of the young and enthusiastic researcher. The documentary's title is no stretch; Dagg loves this animal.
The conclusion follows her recent return to Africa with her daughter, where she encounters the descendants of giraffe she studied decades earlier. Despite her own struggles and the serious threats to giraffe survival, the documentary maintains an overall ebullient and uplifting tone that reflects Dagg's positive personality.