Saturday, October 13, 2012

Movie Review of Disney's "Tarzan"


Directed by Chris Buck and Kevin Lima, Disney's 37th feature length animated film, Tarzan, was an innovated endeavor that took almost 4 years to create. It was released on June 18th, 1999 and featured the voice talents of Tony Goldwyn (Tarzan), Glenn Close (Kala), Minnie Driver (Jane), Rosie O'Donnell (Terk), Wayne Knight (Tantor), Brian Blessed (Clayton) and Nigel Hawthorne (Professor Porter). The music in this Disney animated film was used very differently than in other animated features. There is only one song that is sung only by a character and that is "Trashin' the Camp" sung by Terk. The rest of the music is sung by Phil Collins and a back-up chorus. The musical score was written by Mark Mancina. There was a new animation technique developed for this film and they call it "deep canvas." This uses a computer to make the objects on the screen appear to be in 3D. The camera is able to move 360 degrees around a character and/or an object. It was an amazing experience to watch. Tarzan is a film based on Edgar Rice Burroughs' story "Tarzan of the Apes." This film focuses mainly on Tarzan's origins in Africa.
Tarzan's family is shipwrecked on the African Coastline
The treehouse his parents built
Tarzan's dead parents
The movie starts off with a montage under the song "Two Worlds, One Family" showing how Tarzan and his human parents were shipwrecked on the beach of Africa and how they build a home for themselves in the edges of the jungle. It also shows the gorillas living together in peace deep in the jungle. The head male gorilla's mate sleeps in a nest, holding her baby tight to her but the baby wakes, sees a frog hop by, gets out of his mother's arms and chases it. The mother and father are waken by noises and discover that their baby has been caught and killed by a leopard. A period of time passes and we see her travelling alone at the end of the group until she stops and hears a baby crying. She rushes towards the sound and finds the baby human in his cradle and the mother and father's dead bodies by bloody leopard paw prints and scratches in the wooden floor.

Tarzan reaches for Kala to pick him up

Kala meets Tarzan
Sabor, the leopard, tries to kill Kala and Tarzan
The female gorilla picks up the baby and decides to keep it and rocks it lovingly in her arms when they are interrupted by the leopard trying to kill them but mainly trying to kill the baby. A fight ensues and at the end the female gorilla is able to escape with the baby.

She arrives back at the group of gorillas and the first dialogue occurs here. The group of gorillas are relived to see Kala (Close) returning to them. A few other females with kids come over to her and Kala shows them the baby human that she's decided to name "Tarzan." The head male, Kerchak (Lance Henriksen) does not want Tarzan to stay with the group he demands that Kala take it back. Kala begs and pleads until he lets her keep it but unlike the baby gorilla they lost, he will not call Tarzan his son. That night his mother starts to sing him a lullaby as they go to sleep that Phil Collins finishes.
Kala shows the other gorillas Tarzan
Tarzan and Terk, age 5
We go forward 5 years and watch Tarzan get ridiculed and teased by the other gorilla kids for being different. He does have one good gorilla friend and her name is Terk (O'Donnell). She helps him get out of trouble with Kerchak but when she goes off to be with her other two gorilla friends she tells him that he can't come with her because he can't keep up and if he could keep up then he could come. Terk arrives at the edge of the cliff where the other two are waiting. She's barely stopped when Tarzan slams into her back. Now, Terk doesn't want her other friends to think she's a weakling or feels sympathy towards Tarzan so she tries to think of a way to get rid of him. Terk then tells Tarzan that to stay with her and her other friends he has to get a hair from an elephant.
So Tarzan jumps off a cliff to go get an elephant hair
We meet Tantor just before Tarzan gets an elephant hair
 Long story short, he gets the hair but causes the elephants to stampede. A baby elephant, Tantor (Knight), is left behind with Tarzan and Terk when Kala and Kerchak get there. Kala is just glad Tarzan's safe but Kerchak is furious and yells at him.
Tarzan sees his reflection
 Tarzan runs off and sits at the edge of a small water pool. He looks at his reflection and sees how different he looks from other gorillas then slams his fists into the water to break up the image. In doing so he gets some mud on his face and he sees that it makes him look more like a gorilla so he starts to put more on himself. Kala gets there and talks with him, wipes away the mud, and shows him the similarities between them and how Kerchak just doesn't understand. Tarzan tells Kala that he'll make Kerchak understand by becoming the best ape ever. This leads into another montage under the song "Son of Man" where we see Tarzan growing up and learning to do new things like swing through the vines and use a spear. We see his friends, Terk and Tantor, grow up with him and by the end of the song Tarzan is 20 years old and fully a man.
Tarzan fights Sabor

He and Terk start to wrestle and Tantor keeps telling them to stop. Then just as Tarzan gets Terk in a headlock he freezes sensing that there is something dangerous nearby. Terk has to yell at Tarzan repeatedly to get his attention and finally release her from his grasp. Then the leopard, Sabor, leaps into the group of gorillas and goes after Kerchak. Tarzan gets his spear and diverts the big cat's attention to him and they fight until Tarzan finally kills him. Tarzan lifts the leopard into the air above his head for all to see and gives them the famous Tarzan yell. Then he takes the body up to Kerchak. It looks like Kerchak is going to finally accept Tarzan into the group when they all hear a gunshot and Kerchak orders everyone to move away from the area of danger.
Tarzan spies on the newcomers 
All of the gorillas follow him but Tarzan decides to go to investigate the noise rather than do as ordered. He finds strange tracks in the jungle and metal bullet casings. Another gunshot leads him to where he sees two men walking through some bamboo. The man firing the weapon is Clayton (Blessed) and the short older man in a safari hat is Professor Porter (Hawthorne). Tarazn watches as they are joined by a woman named Jane (Driver). Then Porter points out that they're standing in a gorilla nest and Jane sees that ahead of them are many more. Jane and her father, Professor Porter, have come to Africa to study gorillas.
Jane shows the baby baboon her sketch of him

Porter and Clayton continue on to look at the other nests when a little baby baboon jumps down to the ground to get a piece of fruit. Tarzan watches as Jane pulls out her sketchbook and starts to draw the little monkey but when she looks up he's gone but then she feels him climb up her back and over her shoulder so she shows him the sketch. The baby monkey looks at it then grabs the whole book and runs off with it and Jane comes running after him to try and get it back. She finally tricks him out of it and he starts crying loudly.

The baby baboon's family go after Jane
Jane hears a noise, looks up and sees that there is a whole tribe of baboons surrounding her up in the trees and they do not look friendly. Jane starts to run and they chase her with Tarzan following. Tarzan manages to help Jane escape from the baboons then as the baby baboon and its parent float by their spot on a tree limb using Jane's parasol Tarzan talks in monkey sounds to the baboon.
Tarzan saves Jane from the baboons
Listening to each others' hearts

Then he gets the sketch from Jane and gives it to the baby monkey. Jane then tries to leave but gets stuck between 2 tree branches and says "It can't get any worse, can it?" It starts pouring down rain right as she finishes the sentence and then she says "Obviously it can." With Tarzan's help she manages to get unstuck. Then they are both on the same tree branch as Tarzan examines Jane and she tries to keep him away. After a lot of confusion, some involving Tarzan mimicking what Jane says, Tarzan tells Jane his name and Jane tells Tarzan her name. Then they hear a gunshot and Jane asks Tarzan to take her to her camp and off they go swinging through the trees.

We leave Tarzan and Jane and watch as Tantor, Terk and some other gorillas go searching for Tarzan. They come across the human's camp although the humans aren't there at the moment. The editing goes from cutting shots of different items back to Tantor's horrified face.
Disney's Mrs. Potts in the camp

 During this we see the pots and dishes from Beauty and the Beast. The gorillas start playing around with all the interesting stuff that make interesting noises. Soon, after the addition of Tantor playing trumpet sounds using a gramophone horn they have a good beat and melody going and Terk starts to sing "Trashin' the Camp" which is really not a song of words but more of a song of sounds. She is occasionally joined by the others singing too. Cut to the other gorillas hearing the noise and heading towards it. Cut to Clayton and Porter looking for Jane who then turn and head back towards the noise. Back at the camp the animals are totally destroying everything and making a huge mess when Tarzan and Jane arrive. Jane stops and stares at the gorillas while Tarzan runs up to Terk and they wrestle a bit as Jane realizes that Tarzan has been raised by gorillas.
Terk and Jane
 Then Tarzan turns around and tries to introduce Terk to Jane when Jane hears something very close behind her, turns around and looks up into the dominating face of Kerchak. He roars at her and she collapses on the ground and tries to protect her head by holding a cooking pan/bowl over it. Kerchak sniffs her all over and roars at Tarzan as the rest of the gorillas, including Tarzan's mother Kala, come into the camp behind Kerchak. Kerchak looks up and grunts at the others in a clear message that says we leave now and you have to follow me. Tarzan starts to leave too but hesitates until Kala pulls him away and they all go off into the jungle. Right after they left, Clayton and Jane's father arrive back at camp. Jane emphatically tries to tell them what happened and they finally catch on when she tells them about the gorillas had been in their camp. They ask where and she tells them that they left and that Tarzan left with them.
Kerchak tells the gorillas to stay away from the humans
Cut to the gorillas gathering around Kerchak in the jungle as he orders them all to have nothing to do with these creatures but Tarzan argues against him and starts to leave when his mother says to listen to Kerchak but Tarzan looks at her very accusingly and says "Why didn't you tell me there were creatures that look like me?"

Cut to Jane in the camp trying to explain to her dad and Clayton about Tarzan using a blackboard and chalk. Clayton scoffs at her but right when he's about to say that she really only just imagined Tarzan jumps down into the camp. Tarzan starts to imitate Clayton while Clayton tries to ask him where the gorillas are. It isn't working so Jane says "Mr. Clayton, I think I'll take it from here." Now insert montage under the song "Strangers Like Me" of Tarzan learning how to be human including language lessons.
Tarzan learns to read
Jane learns to swing on vines
Tarzan shows Jane his world
The volume of the music lowers as Clayton insists Jane ask Tarzan about the gorillas because the ship that will be taking them back to London could arrive at any day. So Jane asks but Tarzan says no because of Kerchak. Segue back into full volume song as Clayton gets madder and madder trying to find out gorilla information and Tarzan continues to learn new things. The song ends when Tarzan sees the last slide from the projector come to light. It is a slide of a man down on one knee offering a bouquet of flowers to a woman. He goes out and makes a bouquet and brings it back to the camp the next day but he finds the camp crawling with people packing and carrying things to a huge ship off the coast. He hears Porter and Jane begging the captain to give them more time but he says no and his crew continue to pack and haul things out to the ship.
Tarzan tries to get Jane to stay

 Tarzan tries to give the bouquet to Jane but she asks him to come with them to England but also tells him that he wouldn't be able to come back. Then Tarzan gets on one knee, offers Jane the bouquet which she accidentally knocks most of the flower petals off of and says "Jane must stay with Tarzan." She starts half heartedly to tell him reasons why she can't stay but Tarzan says "Jane... stay. Please." Jane says "I can't," and then runs away from him crying. Clayton comes over and insinuates that Jane would stay if Tarzan showed her the gorillas. Finally, Tarzan agrees and he takes them to their nesting area after having Terk and Tantor create a diversion and lead Kerchak away from the group.
Tarzan leads Jane, Porter and Clayton to the gorilla nesting area where they find Kala waiting for Tarzan. Tarzan tells Jane that Kala is his mother and tries to introduce them but Kala backs away from them, fearfully and into the jungle.

Tarzan show Jane and Porter the gorillas
However, as he tries to call her back and Jane and Porter try to help more gorillas appear all around them up in the jungle trees. Clayton gives an evil grin and marks the location of the gorilla nesting area down on his map. Jane plays with some baby gorillas and Porter gets groomed by some of the gorillas and other gorillas try to take Clayton's possessions. The Tarzan teaches Jane a phrase in Gorilla. He tells her that she said "Jane stays with Tarzan." Jane then starts to try to explain that she can't but suddenly Terk and Tantor appear ad right on their heels comes Kerchak. Kerchak tries to attack the humans but Tarzan holds him back and yells for them to run. They do. After he lets Kerchak go, Tarzan stares down at his hands as if he cant believe what he has done and when Kerchak accuses him of betraying his family he runs away into the jungle.
Tarzan's real family

Kala finds him and finally shows him where she found him and that she isn't his biological mother. She just wants Tarzan to be happy and if he wants to go with Jane then he can. Still, she cries when he comes out dressed in his father's clothes indicating that he is leaving with Jane. He tells her "No matter where I go, you will always be my mother."

Cut to morning on the beach where Tarzan meets the other humans and they get into the row boat to ride in so they can get out to the big ship. A minute right after they're on their way, Tantor and Terk arrive on the beach calling out to Tarzan and Terk gets mad because he never said goodbye. After she angrily throws some rocks into the sea Tantor looks at her and says "I'm gonna miss him too."

Now back to Tarzan and the others whose rowboat has reached the big ship. When they climb aboard they are attacked and captured and thrown into the cargo area with the captain while Clayton and his men head out to capture all of the gorillas to take back to England and sell. Clayton makes sure that Tarzan knows it's his own fault for telling them and showing them where the gorillas were located before he leaves to attack them. Tarzan gives out a very loud yell of "No!" Which echoes out over the sea to the edge of the jungle were Terk and Tantor are. They hear it and deduce that Tarzan is in trouble but Terk doesn't want to go help him. She's still mad that she didn't get to say goodbye but Tantor knocks some sense into her and they go out to the boat and help release Tarzan from his prison. He immediately heads out to save his family.
Clayton and his men attack the gorillas
Cut to the gorillas right as the bad humans start their attack. The battle goes downhill and the enemy is winning until Tarzan, Tantor, Terk, Jane, Porter and a herd of elephants arrive. They all fight and ultimately win when Tarzan fights Clayton who gets caught and tied up in a ton of vines and accidentally hangs himself by trying to cut his way free with his machete.
Clayton accidentally hangs himself
It starts to rain. Tarzan heads back to the others and sees that Kerchak has been fatally shot. As he lays dying, Kerchak finally accepts Tarzan as his son and tells him that he must lead their gorilla family now that he will not be there to do so. Then Kerchak dies and Tarzan takes his place as leader of the group.
Kerchak dies
The next morning Tarzan says goodbye to Jane and Porter on the beach. As they row out to sea Porter tells Jane she should stay since she obviously loves Tarzan and he succeeds when Jane jumps out of the boat and runs through the water to get to Tarzan and knocks him over in a rush to kiss him.
Jane and Tarzan kissing
It only takes Porter a few minutes to realize that he wants to stay too and he says to the man rowing their boat, "Captain, tell them that you never found us, eh? After all, people get lost in the jungle everyday. Tootlepip." Then he jumps out of the boat and swims to meet the rest of the family on the beach. Before he gets there Jane goes up to the other gorillas and tells them the phrase Tarzan taught her in gorilla language, "Jane stays with Tarzan."  Everyone cheers and there is a reprise of the song "Two Worlds, One Family."
Swinging through the trees
 During the song it shows Tarzan and Jane swinging through the trees together and as they land on a branch and the camera goes past them you hear Tarzan's famous yell. End credits start rolling here.
The End
The voice actors and the animators did and amazing job of portraying the characters, both human and nonhuman, and they definitely met my expectations. The use of the "deep canvas" technique made the world around the characters seem more real and in turn made the characters seem more real.

The film techniques in this movie included the "deep canvas" as I mentioned before which made the world look 3D and not flat. They used light in a much different way in this story than in others. In most movies light symbolizes safety and darkness danger but in Tarzan the opposite was true. In the darkness of the jungle the gorillas and Tarzan were safe but wherever light was there was danger. Another thing they did that stood out to me was right after the animal villain was killed the human one shows up and is wearing the same color as the leopard's coat. The music in this Disney was used in a way much different but just as effective as previous movies. The characters did not sing any of the songs except one. Most of the songs were background music accompanied by film montages. It was a very good technique and definitely help set the mood of the movie.

Example of the "Deep canvas" technique

I would definitely say you should go watch this movie. Mostly because of the new usage of music and to see the "deep canvas" technique but also because it tells a new story of Tarzan that the other movies made about him do not do. It shows his life growing up in the jungle with the gorillas instead of his travels in Europe and America. So yes, go see this movie!

Tarzan Screenshots















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