A shipping disaster in the 19th Century has stranded a man and woman in the wilds of Africa. The lady is pregnant, and gives birth to a son in their tree house. Soon after, a family of apes... See full summary »
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A shipping disaster in the 19th Century has stranded a man and woman in the wilds of Africa. The lady is pregnant, and gives birth to a son in their tree house. Soon after, a family of apes stumble across the house and in the ensuing panic, both parents are killed. A female ape takes the tiny boy as a replacement for her own dead infant, and raises him as her son. Twenty years later, Captaine Phillippe D'Arnot discovers the man who thinks he is an ape. Evidence in the tree house leads him to believe that he is the direct descendant of the Earl of Greystoke, and thus takes it upon himself to return the man to civilization. Written by
Murray Chapman <firstname.lastname@example.org>
If you are looking for a modern film version of Buster Crabbe or Johnny Weismuller's overcoming the machinations of unscrupulous, white safari guides or cunning, black tribesmen, while saving the animal kingdom, this is NOT the movie for you. This is a recounting of the Tarzan "legend" from its beginning in intelligent, adult terms. It is beautifully filmed and faithful to the Edgar Rice Burroughs stories.
Tarzan is no action hero, but a man torn between two worlds - the natural and the civilized. In a stunning performance, Christopher Lambert portrays this angst with absolute realism. If he slips up just once the cat will be out of the bag: the audience (especially the adult audience targeted by the film) will laugh, and the film will completely lose its grip. It will plummet into the cheesy depths. But Lambert never lets that happen. (Forget what you may think of him in other movies; when I saw this film at the theater on its original release, I thought he deserved an academy award.)
The supporting cast is uniformly excellent, as other commentators have noted. I disagree with most of them in that I didn't find anything wrong with Andie McDowell's performance. I wouldn't have nominated her for an academy award - the role is undemanding - but she is completely up to it, such as it is. I don't know why her voice was overdubbed, either.
The cinematography of the African segment of the tale is absolutely beautiful. It captures both the beauty of the African wilderness and the exotic expectation it holds in the collective imagination of those who have never been there. The scenery is lush and exotic, and the colors are vivid.
But this is also a "period" film, and the cinematography also magnificently depicts Victorian England - the countryside, the city and the interiors. The costumes are outstanding. The soundtrack is beautiful without being overwhelming or obtrusive.
There are some disturbing scenes - especially for animal lovers - but no more disturbing than a few scenes in Dances with Wolves. This is an excellent film about the conflict between civilization and nature, personified in the young Lord Greystoke, convincingly portrayed by Christopher Lambert.
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