Though I'd never consider myself to be particularly naive, there was much in the film to be shocked by, not just from what was essentially cast as the villain (the LEMSIP organisation), but from the more liberal anti-establishment hippie types who participated in such a lax, poorly envisioned, morally and ethically neglect, social and psychological experiment (and not even on an orphaned chimp but a kidnapped one).
Of course, methods and standards change with the years and it's often easy to look with scorn and haughty derision at the past, but at the heart of the issue presented, it appears the lack of regulation and naivety/moral ambivalence toward Nim's care was the main flaw of the experiment; not to mention the distinct lack of research and scant knowledge of primates. As a result, the documentary presents an almost absurd but totally true and shocking account of Nim's life, which although filled with much joy and apparent content in a human environment, carries with it the inevitable and almost unbearable melancholy and injustice of an ill-conceived and morally bankrupt experiment.
The personal accounts of those involved reflected the times to an extent, though many carried with them a great love and compassion for Nim, which makes his predicament all the more tragic when some of those people were so powerless to help him. Yet, in the best way a documentary can be, the argument is never one-sided and what is presented is largely a presentation of fact and first-hand accounts, and it is from these accounts we are left to decide who are the heroes and villains of the piece - and there really are heroes and villains. A tragic documentary, for all the right reasons.