"The 'Men and Monkeys' project is a hymn to movement, it's a unique adventure in which, for the first time, monkeys and humans will be moving in the same environment: on the colorful roofs of India!"
A quotation of Thomas Dudoué, Maxime Guérillot, Alex Yde and Simon Peltier. Thomas, Max and Alex are from France and have been practicing Parkour und Freerun since more than 10 years. Max is an architect, Alex and Thomas work as performers for Lifeshows. Simon belongs to the skater world and produces video projects. This diverse group of friends made a documentary in India, in which they show us a lot more than beautiful shots.
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It all started as a childhood dream. Alex and Max see in a documentary how a group of monkeys in India invades the city every day; they jump over the colourful rooftops and steal food. In their nimbly and playful way of moving over the obstacles, the Tracers - parkour practitioners - immediately recognize themselves. Since then, they dream of jumping through the air together with the monkeys.
A few years later, Max travels, for other reasons, to India and actually witnesses the aforementioned Monkey Phenomena. Finally, the dream is seized that has been awakened again: with some financial support from the City of Paris, donations from a crowd funding, and some new arrival in the team. The Indiana Jones of the urban camera operators, Simon Peltier, alias “Papa Symon”, and Thomas, alias “Mowgli”, born in the trees, according to the legend, join in. They are ready to start... back to the roots!
Once they find the monkeys in the Indian city of Bundi, they follow them up on the rooftops of the houses and abandoned palaces. The inhabitants, however, aren't enthusiastic about it at first. They find the monkeys rather annoying - after all they make a lot of trouble on the roofs, and the boys even try to attract them! „Parkour“ is not a term here, either. Yet, an agreement is found after further explanations, and the Indian's skepticism gives way to curiosity; especially the children are all over the „white monkeys “. Some of the beautiful moments, they shared with the monkeys in this breath-taking scenery, can be witnessed in the documentary. One thing the four Homo Sapiens Sapiens had to accept very soon: when it comes to Parkour, our furry relatives are far superior! If they want, they can leave us humans easily far behind. But already watching them is an unforgettable experience.
During this playful work-out they realize soon enough: in the evolution of Parkour, movements have been developed, that the monkeys seem to have already known long ago. What we humans think to discover is in reality a rediscovery of forgotten abilities how to move playfully and efficiently in our environment. Watching the monkeys is like looking in a mirror, but to see there our origin instead of our reflection.
During the human evolution, our body has been set more and more aside and the movements in everyday life have been restricted to a minimum. Children still jump and climb with joy wherever they can, whilst adults are often unable to do things they used to master so naturally. Parkour is nothing else than to bring out again this playful impulse and to enjoy our possibilities of movement. As outlined in the film: “The monkeys just never stopped moving in this way.“ This primal way of moving, that we even have in common with the monkeys, is similar beyond human cultural borders.
A non-verbal exchange takes place throughout the movement which is practised together. Just like the monkey, that is invading the city in a horde and acting like a big family, the human also has this natural gift of living together, whereas he has reduced it to simplified locomotion and fitness ideals, and thus often renounces an important part of communality.
This natural intuitive communication, today summarised under the term “Sport”, is one of the most primal ways to establish a connection between people of different origins and cultures. It is like a game, in which everyone gets to know and mutually enriches one another. Movement, as a basis for communication, unfortunately plays only a minor role in our world today. It is a way of understanding, that works without words or gestures. A way of understanding, that applies worldwide and makes sport such an effective and simple tool to connect people.
The journey to India went far beyond the playing around with the monkeys. It makes clear, how close we can get to both, humans or animals, even if they might seem so different at first sight.