Sunday, August 7, 2011

Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes (1984)

The success of Rise of the Planet of the Apes has put apes on my mind. Actually, reading Tarzan of the Apes while on vacation put apes on my mind. Then I decided to revisit an 80s movie favorite, Greystoke:  The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes, while also finally checking out the Disney version of Tarzan (1999). All told, that's a bunch of apes!

I know this introduces a lot of questions for you. So I'll try to address them.

How does Greystoke hold up since last seeing it when you were 13 years old?

Pretty well. The acting is solid. Pre-Highlander (1986) Christopher Lambert is fun. And I had forgotten how beautifully photographed it was. 

It does a nice job of adapting the first part of the book, and then takes considerable license to focus heavily on themes I imagine many readers wish Edgar Rice Burroughs would've tackled — Tarzan's birthright and struggle with his humanity. A great idea for a movie. Still, I think it might've been more interesting if Tarzan had become as fully human as he did in the book. He stays more ape-like in the film.

Man, you're sure talking about that book a lot. Isn't this supposed to be about 80s movies? 


Is this movie fit for watching with my kids? For example, if I have a pre-teen daughter or a son who's almost 8? And what about my wife?

PG could get pretty racy back in the 80s, but this is safe. For your daughter, there are some early jungle scenes featuring the backside of a non-loinclothed Tarzan that you might feel more comfortable fast-forwarding through. And your son might get bored after watching the Disney version. Especially when the action is shifted to Europe. 

As far as your wife goes, she might wonder what this new Tarzan infatuation is all about, but then patiently sit through it hoping for some touching romance between Christopher Lambert and Andie MacDowell.

Is there any?

Not as much as I would've thought. Again, they kept him fairly ape-like, and that can only go so far.

How about some random trivia?

Okay, did you know that Andie MacDowell's voice was dubbed in post-production by Glenn Close, because Andie's southern accent wasn't considered appropriate for the character? You did? Man, don't you know that had to have hacked her off?

Did you further know that Glenn Close performed the voice of Kala, Tarzan's ape mother, in the Disney version? The lady is Tarzan-CRAZY.

Okay, you're dying to talk about the book some more. What else do you want to mention?

The book is a lot different, and by the end, features a very civilized Tarzan tracking down Jane back in the states, after meeting her in Africa. (In the movie, she's never even in Africa.) The first paragraph of the final chapter amused me:

At the sight of Jane, cries of relief and delight broke from every lip, and as Tarzan's car stopped beside the other, Professor Porter caught his daughter in his arms.

Hee hee. "Tarzan's car." I didn't know those words had ever been used together. It just struck me funny. And what a great band name. I'd go see Tarzan's Car play. Especially if they opened for Foo Fighters.

Anything else?

Yes. After Greystoke, I defy you to not want to go up to someone and do the sad "Ooo Ooo" sound, while putting their hand on top of your head to see if they're alive.  

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