Looking Back…Tarzan (1999)

There are books out there that have constant adaptations. The re-workings of classical characters from books beloved throughout the generations have become somewhat wanting. Between the thousandth version of Romeo & Juliet or that Frankenstein reboot we never wanted, the exhaustion of literary figures has finally hit a peak. The same can be said for Edgar Rice Burrough’s Tarzan.

And the wailing muscle bound man whose friends are literally apes has yet another conception on the big screen with David Yates’ The Legend of Tarzan and many will want to look back on the loin-clothed lovers cinematic adventures. But the best one has to be Disney’s version of the tale. Yeah, I said it.

Tarzan follows the same tale as before: A family are shipwrecked on an island and unfortunately the parents of a young child die and leave the baby to the will of a jungle. Or a gorilla named Karla who has recently lost her own cub. As the two bond, Tarzan grows with the gorillas, never quite fitting in to the family or gaining the approval of leader Kurchak. The arrival of a group of explorers sets a wavy of interest and mistrust into the pack. Tarzan can’t help but feel drawn to the humans, after all, there are strangers just like him…But is the growing concern valid? Is there darkness within the explorers that could put the whole jungle at risk?

The story is simple, unaltered, and peppered with humour enough to rattle adults and children alike with copious amounts of laughter. Yet this being Disney, it never loses the heart of the story. The animation, vivid in greenery, is enhanced by the earnest, jovial, and wondered voices of Minnie Driver, Glenn Close, BRIAN BLESSED, and Rosie O’Donnell, each adding their personalities to the narrative and helping each character bloom. Balancing the inner conflict of Tarzan’s yearning for acceptance and the jolly adventures he and his creature friends get up gift an enchanting portrayal of Burrough’s work. You’ll laugh and cry, feeling a torrade of emotions cultivate and blossom inside you.

The biggest triumph in Tarzan is arguably the visceral, embellished, and excitable soundtrack crafted by everyone’s favourite singer (that we’d hate to admit) Phill Collins. Between the score and his jaunty pop-hits, it’s hard not to be swept up in the crescendo of tunes. There are plenty of tracks here that immortalise this fantastic animation. The spectacular stand out tracks are “You’ll Be In My Heart” as Karla sings to her baby human son Tarzan that highlights the resolve of a grieving mother and her tenderness to care for another’s child as her own. It’ll give you goosebumps just speaking about it. The other – “Strangers Like Me” – is a rambunctious rolling drumbeat of curiosity and belonging as Tarzan earns knowledge of humanity away from the jungle. Just these two songs along represent the themes and semantics that energetic bounce throughout Tarzan.

With generated computerised backdrops and characters fleshed out greatly, Tarzan is a captivating and swinging Disney piece that helped rejuvenate the studio during a nineties slump. Of course, it can never levitate to the true masterpieces of Disney classics yet it has a defining place within the history of the studios. And, if anything, you’ll wish to cast off the humdrums of modern life and go live in a jungle with a tall, buff, and mesmerising man…



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.