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Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes (1984)

A shipping disaster in the nineteenth 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. The mother dies soon ... See full summary »


Hugh Hudson


Edgar Rice Burroughs (novel), Robert Towne (as P.H. Vazak) | 1 more credit »

On Disc

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Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 3 wins & 13 nominations. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Ralph Richardson ... The Sixth Earl of Greystoke
Ian Holm ... Capitaine Phillippe D'Arnot
James Fox ... Lord Charles Esker
Christopher Lambert ... John Clayton / Tarzan, Lord of the Apes
Andie MacDowell ... Miss Jane Porter
Cheryl Campbell ... Lady Alice Clayton
Ian Charleson ... Jeffson Brown
Nigel Davenport ... Major Jack Downing
Nicholas Farrell ... Sir Hugh Belcher
Paul Geoffrey ... Lord John 'Jack' Clayton
Richard Griffiths ... Captain Billings
Hilton McRae Hilton McRae ... Willy
David Suchet ... Buller
Ravinder Ravinder ... Dean
John Wells John Wells ... Sir Evelyn Blount


A shipping disaster in the nineteenth 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. The mother dies soon afterwards. An ape enters the house and kills the father, and 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 <muzzle@cs.uq.oz.au>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

tarzan | shipwreck | africa | ape | orphan | See All (69) »


Based on the story 'Tarzan of the Apes' by Edgar Rice Burroughs. See more »


Adventure | Drama


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »





English | French

Release Date:

30 March 1984 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Greystoke: The 7th Earl Lord John Clayton, Tarzan of the Apes See more »


Box Office


$30,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs



Sound Mix:

70 mm 6-Track (70 mm prints)| Dolby (35 mm prints)


Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Maryam d'Abo was considered for the role of Miss Jane Porter. When she met with Director Hugh Hudson, she felt that he had already cast someone else in his mind. In the end, the part was cast with Andie MacDowell. Hudson and d'Abo met again at a dinner party in 1999, became involved, and married in 2003. See more »


Eric Langlois has metal fillings. See more »


Sir Evelyn Blount: Although the circumstances indicate that he is your grandson, we cant prove it. Of course, we, erm, might be able to do so if we could do some tests.
Sixth Earl of Greystoke: [Looking out the window] He's here!
[turns to Sir Evelyn]
Sixth Earl of Greystoke: If he's a Greystoke, I'll know him at a glance!
See more »

Alternate Versions

In 1992, an "Extended Version" was released to home video by Warner, and this version runs six minutes longer than the original release. The Extended Version videos feature the following:
  • An overture of John Scott's main orchestral themes, which runs for about 01:40.
  • Immediately following the Warner Brothers logo is a reinserted prologue with the great apes. The scene opens with a master shot of the African jungle from a bird's-eye view, complete with smoking volcano in the distance, rolling storm clouds, and the caption "EQUATORIAL WEST AFRICA 1885". During this sequence, there is a storm and the volcano gushes lava, causing the apes to go into turmoil. The tribe's oldest ape, Silverbeard, calls the warning to the others and they all rush to shelter from the rain, etc. Kala, nursing her infant baby, seems reluctant to go. Silverbeard roughly tries to get her to move, accidentally(?) causing the death of the little ape, as it falls from Kala's grip and plummets to the rocks below. Kala sees her child die and howls with anguish, ending the scene with a fade-out to black. The next shot is the original opening, with one change: a new caption: "SCOTLAND. TEN MONTHS EARLIER." This whole jungle prologue clocks in at about 01:45, and serves as a bookend for the film, as the film now ends on practically the same shot as it opens, but at the end of the film the scene shows a peaceful view of the jungle.
  • After Lord Clayton leaves Greystoke for his tropical journey, and the scene shifts to the African coast, a reprinted (which means this shot now exists TWICE in the sequence) shot of the shipwreck (post-accident) now replaces the original shot, which was a beautiful, wide master of the whole coast where the ship has crashed, looking in from the ocean.
  • Once Capitaine D'Arnot and Tarzan reach civilization (the "edge of the world") and rest at Buller's inn, another whole sequence has been reinserted. After D'Arnot shows Tarzan fire, the sequence cuts to about an hour later, when D'Arnot attempts to arrange a charter for passage to England. We meet the rest of the gang in the bar, which includes a pointed acknowledgment that Captain Billings ("It's not my fault, don't blame me") from Lord Clayton's shipwreck IS among them, and has been for some time. D'Arnot explains he has no money for the arrangement but can promise an I.O.U., which sets the whole gang at the bar off. They accuse D'Arnot and Tarzan of possibly being escaped convicts and threaten the D'Arnot with violence. Tarzan pounces on the attackers, roaring like a panther, and starts a fire with an oil lamp (showing that he does understand fire's danger). Everyone flees the inn, which is soon completely ablaze. Amid the chaos, D'Arnot and Tarzan escape in a canoe. The scene then cuts to the original versions long shot, in daytime, of D'Arnot rowing down the river with Tarzan. The entire sequence features some repeated music scoring cues, and extra music not heard in the original. As the sequence ends, we hear D'Arnot add, in voice-over: "I sense that we have a long and difficult journey ahead of us; perhaps weeks of waiting for a ship that will give us passage to England. I will try to teach John some rudimentary manners and a greater understanding of the language. Like a father, I am resolved to impart to him all that I can, but never, not even for a moment, do I doubt that to take him back is a perilous undertaking...for John, but also for his family." The voice-over narration concludes after the fade-out on Africa and over the shot of the Greystoke estate, in Scotland. Note: in the original theatrical release, the inn sequence ends before any major hint that D'Arnot and Tarzan could be in danger, and cuts directly to them rowing down the river. The original voice-over narration from D'Arnot: "And so began John's education of the world he had just entered. I was determined to teach him as much as I possibly could, but never for a moment did I doubt that to bring him back would be a perilous undertaking...for John, and also for his family." This original narration ended just as the African landscape fades to black. The newly inserted sequence runs about 03:15.
See more »


Referenced in Runaway, a Twist of Fate (2009) See more »


The Day Thou Gavest, Lord, Is Ended
Written by John Ellerton
Music by Clement C. Scholefield
See more »

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User Reviews

Greystoke: The Legend Of Tarzan, Lord Of The Apes (Hugh Hudson, 1984) ***
6 January 2009 | by Bunuel1976See all my reviews

This begins a series (which I'll hopefully keep up every week-end) of films that came out during my childhood – in this case, it's one I've only managed to catch now. It was clearly intended as the last word on the subject, which basically had been debased to the level of hokum over the years; however, in its uncompromising striving for a serious-minded approach (a sure measure of which is that the protagonist is never once referred to by the name he's been known all this time the world over!), the film-makers rather lost track of the fact that the thing was intended primarily as entertainment! Consequently, we get a decidedly staid representation of events – with more care given to meticulous period reconstruction than in providing a functional thematic environment for its mythic jungle hero! Even so, Christopher Lambert rose to stardom – as did another debutante, Andie McDowell, playing his love interest (named Jane, of course) – with the title role, which he handles creditably enough under the circumstances. However, Ralph Richardson (to whom the film is dedicated, this being his swan-song) steals every scene he's in as Tarzan's natural grandfather who, in spite of showing obvious affection for his long-lost kin, can't bring himself to forget tradition in an effort to understand his predicament; the hero, in fact, is much more comfortable interacting with primates (even contriving, after having gone back home, to save his adoptive 'dad' from captivity). The film is otherwise very good to look at (with cinematography by Stanley Kubrick regular John Alcott, no less), features an appropriately grandiose score as well as remarkable make-up effects (by Rick Baker) – and, while essentially disappointing as a Tarzan outing, retains considerable value nonetheless as a prestige picture of its day.

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