Cast: Alexander Skarsgard, Margot Robbie, Samuel L. Jackson and Christoph Waltz.
Directed by David Yates
Written by Adam Cozad and Craig Brewer
In 2016 David Yates brought the story of Tarzan back to the big screen. Originally books, written by Edgar Rice Burroughs in 1912, the story of the boy raised by apes certainly captured the attentions of a wide range of audiences; assisted, of course, by Disney’s animated musical adaptation. There have been several film versions since so why make another? This film succeeds in taking a well known story and finding a totally fresh angle. While including the charm of a childhood classic it’s full of action, romance and friendship – a true family film and perhaps a modern classic.
Part of the intrigue of this film is that it’s main story is somewhat separate from ‘the boy raised by apes’. The movie starts with the setting of the scene – the African Congo divided and King Leopold of Belgium running up enormous debts in his attempts to discover his new colonies’ riches; in desperation he sends Leon Rom (Waltz) to source the legendary diamonds of Opar who is met by a mighty tribe determined to defend their land and its heritage…or so it seems. Our first introduction to Tarzan (Skarsgard) is as John Clayton, Lord of Greystoke, a gentleman thriving in his adult life with his wife, Jane (Robbie). A whirlwind of events follow in a plot filled with a wonderful originality for a legendary story remade many times.
For those hoping for a nostalgic experience, you will not be disappointed. Though this film does lack amusing little musical numbers and talking animals, we are presented with familiarities of the legend through flashbacks and reminiscent dialogue. This movie doesn’t strike me as one that aimed for particular accolades within the film industry and though armed with a hugely talented award winning cast, it really feels like the storytelling is at it’s heart. The editing and the score fit perfectly with the essence of the overall production. This seemingly ‘simple’ approach, by simple I mean a key focus being plainly on the telling of the story, is what makes it so watchable. Through my watching and re-watching of this movie it has highlighted and elicited a desire to pull out the truth from amongst the story. Though this particular storyline was created and developed, King Leopold of Belgium and the horrors that he imposed onto the Congo were very real; slavery, exploitation, kidnap, ransom and genocide. It is my view that if a fictional story can highlight an issue enough to encourage it’s audience to research how much, if any, of it’s story is true, then it’s a vitally important tool.
Alexander Skarsgard manages to portray a truly believable character, one difficult for many in western civilisations to comprehend. Though many will understand ‘Tarzan’ to be a fictional character there are some who believe that Lord William Charles Midlan, an earl who lived in the wilds of Africa between 1868 and 1883, was the inspiration for the original story. There are many true stories of children taken in my primates and though they most likely didn’t ‘speak’ to the animals, a level of communication and learning must have developed. Fascinating scenarios that really do add to the enjoyment whilst watching a film like ‘The Legend of Tarzan’.
While the country is in lockdown this is a perfect film to sit down and watch with the entire family, with little flashes of humour, action and a whole load of originality it should capture the attention of all ages. As previously stated this film encourages research, be it into the original inspiration for Tarzan (Lord Midlan), into cases of humans taken in by animals or into the historical injustices that cover the worlds history. If one of those areas interests you I urge you to look into it and see what you can learn.