This year has been a treasure-trove for the 90s kids who have grown up watching The Jungle Book and Disney’s Tarzan. Although, Jungle Book has been one of the most endearing stories of childhood, Tarzan has been somewhat more mystifying a character. Here was a man who had grown up deep in the jungles of the Dark continent, an uncharted territory untouched by human civilisation. Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan of the Apes was first published in the year 1911 after which it has been adapted into various mediums and much romanticised gradually into more of a love-story between Tarzan and Jane than on the marvel that he himself is.
We all know this story don’t we ? Maybe not exactly how Burroughs may have written it but at least the basic plot-line. A family is marooned in the jungle, the parents fall prey to the harsh elements and die, leaving behind an infant who is brought up by primates. The Legend of Tarzan, directed by David Yates is a reboot of this classic tale but with a much more realistic viewpoint than we have ever seen before. The screenplay follows a parallel timeframe within which we see flashes of Tarzan’s upbringing in the Congo rain-forest, interspersed with the present.
The Legend of Tarzan, directed by David Yates is a reboot of this classic tale but with a much more realistic viewpoint than we have ever seen before.
Tarzan or John Clayton, played by Alexander Skarsgård, has now been assimilated into the British gentry and is known as the Earl of GreyStoke which is his family title. Word gets around that a certain Belgian King, is aggressively colonising the Congo Delta in the African continent and that he has some evil plans in store for the natives who would eventually be enslaved and abused by his representative, one Leon Rom played by Christoph Waltz. They propose that Tarzan should be the one who goes there on a Diplomatic mission to seek out the ground reality. As Clayton appears indecisive, one of the guests in that room, George Williams, played by Samuel L. Jackson, tries to persuade Clayton to help him on this journey to the dark continent and save his people.
As an audience, we are so attuned to seeing jungles and a loin-clothed man swinging from one vine to another, that the initial pace of the story may seem a tad slow. However, Yates’ perspective is mature and brings out a man who is not just a tightly muscled acrobat whose pals are animals. John Clayton is a man who is riddled between a safe future for his wife Jane, played by Margot Robbie, and his past in the jungle which now seems like another life to him. We see him wearing modern clothes, every bit a polished gentleman but we are also teased about his undeniable ties to the jungle like in one of the scenes where he shows his hands to children, explaining that his hands look different as he had grown up walking on them, which had changed his inherent bone-structure.
Cut to Africa, where Clayton, Jane and Williams embark on a journey to the Kuba tribe who are like family to both Tarzan and Jane as well as she had grown up among them. Yates’ portrayal of Africa is breathtakingly gorgeous ! We see the Congo river roaring through a vast expanse of deep jungle blanketed by mist somewhat like how James Cameron had visualised Pandora in the Avatar. Henry Braham’s cinematography is spectacular and every shot is a visual treat. The film is interspersed with stunning shots which are realistically executed making them very appealing.
Skarsgård is the quintessential Tarzan with a chiselled 6’4” frame with a charismatic personality typical to the image we have in our minds. He plays the balance between the modern social element and a more primal, instinctive burly character with panaché. Combined with amazing CGI, his screen presence is dramatic and easily qualifies for someone who is not just a normal man.
Samuel L. Jackson is awesome through his characterisation of an individual who is an outsider, afraid and amazed at the same time, courageously standing beside Tarzan as he fights their enemies. Margot Robbie’s character Jane has been amazingly written. From being an epitome of the damsel in distress as shown in earlier adaptations, she is now shown as an equally resourceful and headstrong individual who is fearless and intelligent. She boldly stands up to Christoph Waltz’s cold villainous antics and makes him earn her respect.
This is not just about one man. This is about civil liberty, human rights, loyalty and a deep sense of harmony with nature.
The Legend of Tarzan is not a simple adventure story. It is much richer in its layering now than before. Every single character is remarkably developed to add a significant meaning to the story. This is not just about one man. This is about civil liberty, human rights, loyalty and a deep sense of harmony with nature. This beautiful balance is what makes for this cinematic classic, reinvigorated and memorable !
gobblscore : 7.5/10
gobblpoint : One of the most cinematically appealing movies this year, Tarzan will bring back childhood memories as you see your imagination come alive on screen and more !
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