We've reached the penultimate episode of our Tarzan series. Now sailing into Disney wilds...
by Nathaniel R
For over half a century in film and television storytellers didn't think Tarzan needed an origin plot but when the movies told it (Greystoke, 1984), it was as if everyone had always wanted to. Why not Disney then? Disney hadn't quite run out of classic fairytales to adapt by the mid-nineties but they were shifting their focus to boys. This was arguably due to their gargantuan back-to-back biggest-ever successes of Aladdin (1992) and The Lion King (1994), two animated features that deviated from their princess focus. Enter Hercules and then Tarzan. Neither were girly fairytales but both were still firmly embedded in fantasy and heightened enough for musical numbers.
By the time Tarzan rolled into town, Disney executives had clearly begun to wonder if audiences were done with the musical part of their Animated Musicals because Tarzan is only a musical in the sense that non-diegetic adult contemp ear worms keep popping up. They arrive without warning, with all the subtlety of a slasher movie jump scare.