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Entries in Tarzan (27)

Sunday
Jan282018

100 years ago, the first filmed Tarzan hit.

by Nathaniel R

On this weekend in 1918 the first filmed version of Tarzan of the Apes movie appeared. You may recall that I have a bit of an...um... problem with Tarzan that stems from childhood. I'd never seen the first Tarzan but it is streaming on YouTube and is only 60 minutes long. It has all the typical Tarzan controversial flashpoints (whitewashed pro-coloniaism history and in-the-now-whenever-that-happened-to-be gender politics) plus the origin story and even the yodelling (you can't actually hear it, mind you, but he does beat his chest while wailing so you know that's what's happening. 

Despite the worst Tarzan wig that ever existed and the lack of jungle animals (it was shot in Louisiana) it's significant for having launched a now 100 year old franchise...

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Nov102016

Swing Tarzan Swing: Disney's 1999 Animated Take 

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.

Sort of.

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.

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Sep072016

Swing Tarzan Swing: Casper Van Dien in "The Lost City"

Nathaniel R's been revisiting (and ogling) past Lord of the Apes this summer. We've now reached the late 90s...

In our Swing Tarzan Swing series we've now reached the late 1990s. A time in which I, Greystoke-loving Nathaniel who is known to swing enthusiastically on the ropey vines of time between decades, am stunned into something approaching silence. I've sat on this one for over a week, struggling for something to say. 

What possessed anyone involved to dive headfirst into a schlocky old school Tarzan plot/adventure while also incongruously connecting itself to the (comparatively) high-brow Greystoke? Early Tarzan films avoided England but for onscreen talking points or origin story allusions. After Greystoke Tarzan films must begin there, goes the apparently unspoken rule. So we first meet John Clayton (Casper Van Dien) as a rich heir happily immersed in all things Jane (Jane March) in England. As with the new 2016 Tarzan, it begins that way before John learns that his former friends are in trouble back in Africa. Into this stew of old and new Tarzan impulses we throw a few other odd tasting ingredients. This 1998 debacle (it grossed 10% of its budget) also wants to compete with the then relatively nascent and still "B" genre of the superhero picture (films like Spawn and Blade preceded it and X-Men was just around the corner). Its CGI, though, looks closer to work done in the mid 80s.

And, speaking of the 1980s, Lost City even lifts from Conan the Barbarian's (1982) snakey shape-shifting finale...

Click to read more ...

Monday
Aug222016

Swing, Tarzan, Swing! Ch.7: Oscar Loves "Greystoke"

During this summer of the Tarzan reboot we've revisited past films in the long history of Tarzan on film. Four more episodes to go!

Impossible as it may be to move Tarzan away from his ultra-specific origins as a colonial era fantasy, filmmakers have tried over and over again to do exactly that. As we've seen in past installments of our "Swing, Tarzan, Swing!" series, he keeps changing with the times despite his historical baggage. We've seen starkly different depictions of his relationship to Jane from equal partners to Head of the Household suburban conformity. The Lord of the Apes even tried to get bachelor hip with the 1960s at the beginning of the James Bond frenzy. Nearly every Tarzan on television has attempted to place him closer to the actual timeline in which it aired. The new Legend of Tarzan (reviewed) works hard to downplay the racism in the myth, but it's never going completely away given that the story is, at heart, about a white man who becomes king of the jungle and often the savior of Africans in his ongoing adventures.

Tarzan works best when he's allowed to stay in the era to which he belongs. So it was a stroke of inspiration for director Hugh Hudson (fresh off a Best Picture win with Chariots of Fire) to give him the historical epic treatment in Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes (1984) even though the Ape Man doesn't belong to world history any more than, say, Batman, Superman and Spider-Man who were all also tragically orphaned (it's a superhero thing, okay?). 

The marketing was so committed to this "serious" prestige historical treatment that the poster even has a four paragraph synopsis closer to a novel than a movie tagline...

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Jul052016

The Long Box Office Weekend: Finding Tarzan 

How was your holiday weekend? I took a rare break from blogging for a long 4th of July weekend with two friends I hadn't seen in far too long. We didn't hit the movies but for a couple of post meal watches on shared couches (The Intern & 10 Cloverfield Lane). But movies are always big business on this weekend, even without our help. It was a tough opening weekend for The BFG but both the new Tarzan and The Purge did well, Despite three major new films and a big expansion for a others like Swiss Army Man, cinemas were still under the sea. Finding Dory remains at #1 and will soon be the top grossing film of the whole year. Haven't all the fish been found by now?

TOP FIVE WIDE
1000+ screens. arrows indicate gaining or losing screens
โ–ซ๏ธ01 Finding Dory $50.1 (cum. $380.5) Review
๐Ÿ”บ02 The Legend of Tarzan $45.5 NEW Review
๐Ÿ”บ03 The Purge: Election Year $34.7 NEW
๐Ÿ”บ04 The BFG $22.2 NEW
๐Ÿ”บ05 Independence Day: Resurgence $20.2 (cum. $76.3)  Roland Emmerich

TOP FIVE LIMITED
Less than 1000 screens. Excluding previously wide. 
๐Ÿ”บ01 Swiss Army Man $1.7 (cum. $1.8) 636 screens 
๐Ÿ”บ02 Our Kind of Traitor $1.2 NEW 372 screens 
๐Ÿ”ป03
 Love & Friendship $512K (cum. $12.6) 185 screens ReviewPodcast  

๐Ÿ”ป04 The Lobster $425K (cum. $7.6) 151 screens ReviewishPodcast 
๐Ÿ”บ05
Maggie's Plan $400K (cum. $2.7)  Review

 

What did you see/do this weekend?