Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Project Disney- Tarzan

Project Disney: The plan is to tackle all of the Disney films, re-reading the classic stories and tales that inspired many of them and to look at how the changes the filmmakers made, the new elements they introduced and the essential elements they kept. We will, of course, be talking about the films as movies as well, saying why we enjoy them and what some of our favorite moments are, but our focus will be on looking at them as adaptations. For the films that are not drawn from any one work we’ll be looking at some of the possible literary influences that we see in the stories. I am participating in Project Disney inspired by Picture Me Reading!

This week's Project Disney is Tarzan based off the book Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Tarzan was actually the first movie date my husband (at the time boyfriend) had many moons ago. How sweet!  Also.. Phil Collins does the music.. man he does some good Disney songs.  he should do the music for all the movies.  I haven't seen Tarzan in a long long time so I am so glad I took the time to watch. 

The film starts out with Tarzan's parents and Tarzan are on a ship that is in a terrible storm where they get marooned on an island. They build a hut in a tree and settle in.  Of course disaster strikes and Tarzan's parents are killed. At the same time the apes in the forest (Kala and Kerchak) are morning the loss of their new born which has been killed by a tiger (Sabor).  Kala hears the cries of a baby the hut and heads that way.  She finds the baby Tarzan and adopts him.  Kerchak of course is very unhappy and tells her no though she defies him and keeps the baby.  In the book the beginning of the story is much different.  John Clayton, a.k.a. Lord Greystoke and his wife Alice who is pregnant go to the Congo to investigate the illegal recruitment of natives.  On their way the crew of the ship has a mutiny and maroons them on and island in Africa.

While on the island Clayton makes them a house of sorts to protect them from the wild animals that are in the jungle. One night an ape (the apes in the book do not talk it's gorilla sounds but of course Disney had to make them speak for film purposes) attacks husband and wife which makes Alice lose her mind.  She does give birth a few months later but unfortunately is never actually back to her normal self.  Now... as for the apes they are a much different story.  They are much more wild then in the film.  Kerchak and all the apes sometimes go on these rampages if they are angry.  They hit everyone in site.  Kala and her baby were in his way when he was going on a rampage.   She tries to jump out of the way but drops her baby and it dies.

Kerchak then goes to the cabin he had seen and breaks in.  Clayton is of course not ready for the attack because he is mourning his wife.  Clayton is killed.  When Kerchek goes to kill the baby in the crib Kala grabs him and trades her dead baby for him.  Kala names the baby Tarzan meaning "pale one".

Next up Disney shows some fun adventures Tarzan gets into. He plays with the other apes and elephants. The jungle is much more dangerous in the book.  Tarzan has no weapons at first and has to use his hands for everything.  Eventually he does find a knife in his father's cabin and learns how to use it which helps him handle the wild animals of the jungle better.  In the movie Tarzan has a spear out of no where and uses it.   During the scene in the film where he kills Sabor he does do his trade mark yelling which he does several times in the book.  The sounds is so terrifying in the book it scares people and animals alike.

Gun shots are now heard in the film.  Tarzan goes to explore it and we find people!  Clayton and the Porters are now introduced.  Jane Porter is the lead lady.  I really love her in the film.  I think she is cute.  Jane is chased by a bunch of monkeys and Tarzan helps her get away from them.  There is a little scene where Jane starts teaching Tarzan her language.. it's kind of funny to hear Tarzan mimicking her English.  The apes meanwhile are looking for Tarzan and discover the human's camp.  Tarzan stay at the camp and learns to speak with Jane and the other humans. Jane tells Tarzan to take them to the apes whom the humans want to study.  Tarzan eventually does.  In the book no one is there to study gorillas. Tarzan actually meets humans because some local natives move into the area Tarzan and his ape family live.  An arrow actually kills Tarzan's mother and so Tarzan tracks down who sent the arrow. Tarzan enters their village and the natives think Tarzan is some evil spirit. Tarzan actually learns about the human race from his father's cabin where he spends a lot of time teaching himself how to read.

The Porters actually end up on the island because they are going on a treasure hunt.  Another mutiny happens so they end up on the same island as Tarzan. This part of the book was great to me.  Tarzan discovers one day that the cabin has been gone through and writes a sign on the door telling them not to touch his stuff. The Porters though never realize that Tarzan is the same man as the one they keep seeing because of Tarzan not speaking they think they are different people.

Tarzan in the film now wants to discover who is he really?  A man or ape?  In the film Kala takes Tarzan back to his father's cabin where he ponders life and then leaves the cabin in his fathers clothes. Tarzan at this point knows he wants to go with Jane to England.  In the book Tarzan rescues a sailor and nurses him back to life.  It is during this time that Tarzan discovers who he really is. The sailor arranges for Tarzan’s finger print to be matched with the baby’s print on Lord Greystoke’s diary, officially proving his lineage.  Tarzan now knows that he is not an ape though the Porters have by now already left for England.

In the movie little does Tarzan know that Clayton was scouting out the gorilla nest and was on their way to capture the gorillas.  Jane and her father have been captured also. A fight of course breaks out. Then Tarzan and Jane get to know each other.  She is going to head to England but changes her mind and stays in the jungle with her father and Tarzan. The book is far different and kind of upset me.  Jane and Tarzan get to know each other here and there.  It is a little bit of a case of instant love.  But still beautiful.  Tarzan is out rescuing that sailor I mentioned above but the other sailors presume everyone is dead.  Jane can't get them to wait any longer for Tarzan because everyone wants to head back.  Jane leaves Tarzan a note asking him to meet her in Baltimore (she is American not English).  So Tarzan makes his way there only to find out Jane doesn't like him as much outside the jungle. She accepts Clayton's proposal (he is a nice guy in the book) and so Tarzan is just left there!  That is the end of the book!

Really I like this movie and really enjoyed the book as well.  Be sure to check out my other Project Disney:

 Snow White
Peter Pan
Treasure Planet
Sleeping Beauty
The Great Mouse Detective 
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
The Princess and the Frog
Beauty and the Beast
Lady and the Tramp
Alice in Wonderland
The Rescuers
The Rescuers Down Under
Oliver and Company
The Little Mermaid
101 Dalmatians
Fantasia 2000
The Jungle Book
The Emperor's New Groove
The Sword in the Stone
The Aristocats
The Lion King
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977)
Winnie the Pooh (2011)
Robin Hood
The Black Cauldron 
Mary Poppins
Lilo and Stitch 
The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad
Make Mine Music
Fox and the Hound
Melody Time 


  1. I loved Tarzan, it had a great soundtrack as well. I remember thinking it was really cool how they copied Tarzan's movements through the trees from skate boarders. I'm sure a lot of adults found that cheesy, but I loved it back then. Great review!

  2. I saw Tarzan and had to check this out. AS a kid I read some of the ERB books (the Neal Adams covers were the draw, I think) and liked some of the lost city stories. I'm also fond of the Greystoke movie that came out in the 80's- I think they did a great job with that. Don't know how it holds up all these years later, but i think it would.,..

    Oh and I laughed at your mention of instant love. ERB was notorious for that- I read him as a kid and his heroes would fall in love at first sight invariably. LOL.

  3. thanks for sharing! i haven't seen this in such a long time, but I LOVE the music.


  4. This is a real cool project; I am a major Disney nerd. Not a Tarzan fan though, so can't comment much on the actual substance.

  5. I hadn't watched this movie in a long time and I too really like it. I think it is kind of funny how Tarzan has dreadlocks, while reading the book I never imagined him like that. Though I did think of him as having many scars because he was constantly being attacked by animals.

  6. How interesting that you were such a fan of ERB! I hadn't read any of his books until now. I did wonder what happens to Tarzan in future books. Does he stay in America?? I am going to have to go to wikipedia and find out. I am also interested now in checking out other movies about Tarzan. In the book he really is a fascinating character.

  7. I love the music too. Phil Collins is just amazing and just makes Disney movies!

  8. Tarzan is in the middle of my favorite Disney movies. It's not the worst or the best. But still quite enjoyable to me.

  9. It ended like THAT?!? Well that's sure a surprise, and so wildly different from the movie- I'm actually a little sad that it ended like this, because I love Jane, she's such a fantastic character in my opinion, and now I'm a little disappointed in the bookish her. It's also a little hilarious (and very interesting) how different it all it, the book and the movie.
    I adore this film! The soundtrack is so good (have you seen Brother Bear? Phil Collins also did songs for that) and I think I should watch it again soon, myself.
    Wonderful post! This has to be one of my favourites of yours so far!

  10. I actually wasn't impressed with this movie. I wasn't a fan when it came out, and I usually don't enjoy it whenever I watch it.

  11. It's been awhile since I've seen Tarzan, but now I'm in the mood to revisit it! It does have great music like you said, and thankfully Disney made the ending happy! Still can't get over how Jane makes him travel all that way to see her, and then just rejects him!

  12. I was quite surprised by the ending of the book myself. I love that Jane and Tarzan end up together. He really does sacrifice a lot to be with her including going to America. This post was getting a little long ... so I didn't mention that when the fingerprints were proved to be Tarzan's he was actually the next in line for Clayton's wealth. But Tarzan decided to not take this title away from him allowing Jane to marry Clayton.

    I am glad this is one of your favorites. Project Disney is almost over if you can believe it. I am reading Fox and the Hound right now.

  13. Oh wow!! It's not one I would watch over and over... but it was still fun to watch it again for the first time in a long time. I like to see Tarzan change over time.

  14. I like the Disney ending much more too. I am still surprised at the book ending. We don't even find out what happens to Tarzan in America after Jane marries someone else. There was a treasure left on the island that Tarzan left. The only thing I can think of is that Tarzan heads back there so he can have some money.

  15. I loved Tarzan! The opening scene always makes me cry!! And I love the music!! Great review and now I want to watch this again =)

  16. Oh my goodness! I can't believe the ending of the book. How brutal. I like Disney's take much better.

  17. WHAT? How can the book end that way? Must've definitely been why Disney gives us a different ending. It does sound like an interesting story though with a lot of different details. I really enjoyed the movie. I remember having a Tarzan coloring book too.