"Come stop your crying, it'll be alright; Tarzan
just take my hand, hold it tight.
I will protect you from all around you;
I will be here - don't you cry."
, released in 1999, is the 37th film in the Disney Animated Canon
. Based on Edgar Rice Burroughs Tarzan
series, it stars Tony Goldwyn
as the eponymous hero, Minnie Driver
as his Love Interest
Jane, and BRIAN BLESSED
as the antagonist, Clayton.
The film opens in the late 1880s, with a couple and their infant son ending up in Darkest Africa
after a shipwreck. Later, Kala, a gorilla whose infant son was killed by a leopard, Sabor, hears a baby cry in an abandoned treehouse. As she enters, she sees blood covered paw prints and the dead parents; also the predator's victims. Action ensues and Kala saves the boy from Sabor. Her mate, Kerchak, the dominant male of the gorilla band, despises the human for his appearance, but Kala raises him anyway, naming him "Tarzan".
Tarzan grows up to become a strong gorilla-like man, whose best friends are a tomboy female gorilla and a neurotic elephant
(Rosie O'Donnell and Wayne Knight). One day, Sabor attacks the gorillas and is defeated by Tarzan, which earns him some respect from Kerchak. But then a British expedition team that came to study gorillas appears, led by Professor Archimedes Q. Porter. His daughter Jane is attacked by baboons, surviving only after being rescued by Tarzan. Now Tarzan must decide where he belongs - and also prevent the trigger-happy hunter guide
Clayton from ruining everything...
The film was very successful, outgrossing its predecessors Mulan
, and won an Academy Award for Best Song (Phil Collins
' "You'll Be In My Heart"). It was the last Disney blockbuster until Lilo & Stitch
3 years later. The story was continued by an animated series
, The Legend of Tarzan
, and two direct-to-video sequels, a compilation film called Tarzan & Jane
and an Interquel
called Tarzan II
Tropes present in this film include:
- Flowers of Romance: Tarzan watches a slideshow which includes an image of a man giving flowers to a woman. He puts together that this is how the English propose to each other, so he goes about the jungle collecting flowers to make a bouquet for Jane. He accidentally bumps into her in the process, bursting the bouquet apart and leaving him with only two flowers, which oddly makes his request for Jane to stay even sadder.
- Genius Bruiser: Tarzan. From an early age you can see that he's pretty smart, learning several animal languages, though at first that seems just like his increased mental capacity compared to the apes. Then he starts to show basic engineering capabilities, building spears, umbrellas, and various other useful things. Then, when Jane and the others arrive, he learns English extremely fast, and is a voracious reader. But he can also kill leopards by himself.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar:
- When Jane almost falls off a tree, Tarzan props her up by poking her in the chest, and shortly afterwards presses his head between her breasts to listen to her heartbeat.
- Terk rants to Tantor about Tarzan spending all his time with the humans in the camp instead of with her, describing a giraffe's birth in the process. "Drops us like a newborn giraffe; KERPLOP!"
- Gilligan Cut: When Tarzan tries to get Terk and Tantor to distract Kerchak:
- Gory Discretion Shot: The deaths of Tarzan's birth parents take place offscreen. You also don't actually see Kala and Kerchak's baby being eaten by Sabor.
- Gray Rain of Depression: When Kerchak dies.
- Handy Feet: Tarzan has them, taking the idea of being raised by apes to its logical conclusion by having him grasp things with his feet.
- Happily Adopted: Tarzan. Invoked after Kala shows Tarzan the treehouse where he was found.
- Heel-Face Turn: The baboons that caused Jane and Tarzan so much trouble are part of the horde of animals that come to help him fight Clayton and rescue the gorillas.
- Held Gaze: This happens between Tarzan and Jane when he first meets the girl, and they stare into each other's eyes in wonder.
- He's Dead, Jim: After Kerchak's last words to Tarzan, we get a Slow Motion shot of his arm falling to the ground.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: Clayton brings about his own demise when, after being caught and suspended in some vines, he sinks into a Villainous Breakdown and starts mindlessly hacking away at them to get to Tarzan. He doesn't notice the one wrapped around his neck until it's too late.
- Hulk Speak: Tarzan. He mostly grows out of it by the end.
- I Choose to Stay: Jane stays with Tarzan.
- I Have No Son: Kerchak's attitude towards Tarzan throughout the film. He finally accepts him as he dies.
- Infant Immortality: Averted with Kerchak and Kala's first child.
- Ink-Suit Actor: Jane bears more than a passing resemblance to her voice actress, Minnie Driver.
- Irony: While exploring the Porters' camp, Terk passes by a chemistry set and wonders what kind of primitive beasts are responsible for the mess.
- It's Personal: Subverted; Tarzan doesn't know that Sabor killed his parents (or Kerchak and Kala's son), so the fight between the two has more meaning than he realizes.
- Karmic Death: Clayton.
- Killer Gorilla: Unlike the book it is based on, the movie averts this trope. The only character who shows signs of it is Kerchak, with his Papa Wolf tendencies.
- Large Ham: Terk. Oddly enough, not Clayton despite being voiced by BRIAN BLESSED, as his animation was more over-the-top than his voice acting.
- Laser-Guided Karma: It took twenty years, but Tarzan is ultimately the one to bring down the one responsible for his parents' deaths. And, again, he's not even aware of that significance; he only killed Sabor because she was threatening his adoptive parents.
- Later Installment Weirdness: Within the greater context of the Disney Renaissance. The most obvious departure from the old 90's formula was the fact that virtually all the music was sung in the background, as opposed to being sung by the characters (bar a few measures of "You'll Be in My Heart" sung by Kala near the beginning).
- Left Stuck After Attack: During their final fight, Clayton comes after Tarzan with a sword, repeatedly stabbing into the cluster of vines where Tarzan's hiding, one of them getting stuck in the trunk of the tree, forcing Clayton to work it loose, which gives Tarzan a chance to put some distance between them.
- Le Parkour: Tarzan takes this to new heights, especially with his "tree-surfing".
- Letting Her Hair Down: Jane starts out with her hair up, but in scenes where she bonds with Tarzan and the gorillas she lets her hair down.
- Limited Special Collector's Ultimate Edition: Disney's Tarzan on Nintendo 64 came with a Tarzan figurine.
- Loin Cloth: Tarzan's outfit.
- Lost in Translation: The poetry of the song "Son of Man" relies on man being both a term for humankind in general as well as literally for a grown male adult; the former references Tarzan's species, the latter his coming of age. Many other languages don't have this kind of ambiguity, so they had to go in either one direction or the other, eliminating some of the poetry of the song.
- Maniac Monkeys: The baboons are rather hostile.
- Manipulative Bastard: Clayton.
- Match Cut
- Mighty Whitey ... or maybe more like Mighty Human.
- Mischief Making Monkey: The baby baboon that steals Jane's drawings.
- Misplaced Wildlife: Averted and parodied: the movie replaces the lions and tigernote in the book with a leopard, and when young Tantor says the river has piranha, another elephant quickly remarks they live in South America. Although that doesn't explain how they know what piranhas are.
- Missing Mom: Archimedes references her once while Jane is excitedly recapping her swing through the trees with Tarzan while chased by raging baboons.
Archimedes: She gets that from her mother. She would come up with stories like this. No gorillas, of course.
- Mr. Fanservice: Tarzan, who can seamlessly cross from being undeniably badass to just plain adorable whenever he's with Jane. His choice of wardrobe also helps too.
- Muscles Are Meaningless: Tarzan has an extremely toned athletic build... Yet he's able to wrestle Kerchak, a male silverback with forearms thicker than Tarzan's torso.
- My God, What Have I Done?: Tarzan after he puts Kerchak in a headlock.
- Mythology Gag:
- In the books, "Tantor" is a term for elephants in general.
- Jane's sketch of Tarzan is titled "Tarzan of the Apes", which is the title of the first Tarzan novel.
- Tarzan fighting Sabor out of sight and slowly lifting her corpse into sight is directly taken from Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes, where Tarzan fights and kills an ape underwater. That movie's Tarzan also appears to be an influence on the Disney version's design.
- Tarzan smashing Clayton's gun is a throwback to the old Johnny Weissmuller films, where Tarzan developed a habit of smashing stranger's guns on sight after seeing several of his friends shot (and been shot at himself).
- The Native Rival: Kerchak.
- Nature Versus Nurture: A big part of the conflict, probably the main one, revolves around Tarzan's struggle to decide whether he belongs with those who raised him and who he's been friends with his whole life, or with the creatures who look like him, think like him, and whom he came from.
- Neck Snap: How Clayton dies, when a vine wraps around his neck and he plummets from a tree. The vine snags during the drop and..well, you imagine the rest.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Tarzan shows Clayton where the gorillas are when he brings Jane to meet his family.
- Noodle Incident: Clayton apparently taught a parrot to sing "God Save the Queen".
- Not Now, Kiddo
- Nubile Savage: Tarzan, although his hair hangs in messy dreadlocks from lack of haircuts and no combing.
- Nurture Over Nature: Tarzan's ultimate decision.
- Offscreen Teleportation: Done realistically. Jane sneaks away but is only just around the other side of the tree.
- Oh, Crap:
- The look on Clayton's face is quite understandable when Kerchak charges at him.
- The expression on the face of the nameless hunter is quite funny when he has Jane imprisoned in a corner; he's smug at having won... then there's a serious OH CRAP! expression when a whole freaking troop of baboons - one of whom is armed with an umbrella - charges at him.
- Tarzan has one during the climatic fight between him and Clayton. After Tarzan has dropped a whole tangle of vines onto Clayton to incapacitate him, he starts cutting himself free in a rage...but doesn't notice that one vine around his neck. Tarzan realizes what is bound to happen and frantically tries to warn him, but too late — the result is not pretty.
- Pale Females, Dark Males: Kerchak is black, Kala is brown, the rest of the gorillas are different shades of grey.
- The Patriarch: Kerchak, so much.
- Papa Wolf: Kerchak, to his troop, and at the end, to Tarzan.
- Parental Love Song: "You'll Be in My Heart". Kala sings it to Tarzan, promising that she'll care for him and he will "be in [her] heart always."
- Pop-Star Composer: Phil Collins. Notably, most foreign versions (that Phil Collins didn't sing himselfnote ), got a major pop star to sing the dubs; Hesham Nour in the Arabic version, Pella Ankarberg in the Swedish version, and Alex Panayi in the Greek version, just to name a few.
- Primal Chest-Pound: Kerchak thumps his chest angrily when Kala tells him he wants to adopt Tarzan, and later when he menaces Jane. Tarzan also does this in the closing scene.
- Puppy-Dog Eyes: Tarzan uses this technique on Terk, who lampshades it.
- Putting a Hand over His Mouth: A villain does this to Jane, who quickly bites it.
- Ragnarok-Proofing: The treehouse put together by Tarzan's birth-parents is incredibly intact after the better part of 20 years of neglect in a jungle climate. The outfit Tarzan finds there is even more so.
- Raised By Gorillas
- A Real Man Is a Killer: Clayton taunts Tarzan with this.
- Required Secondary Powers: Tarzan's ability to pick up English so fast can be attributed to his ability to mimic animal noises, which also allows him to have many jungle friends and imitate gunshots (although, given that he doesn't need to make elephant noises at Tantor, obviously it's not just gorillas that speak "gorilla").
- Rule of Animation Conservation: The reason for Tarzan's knuckle walking, tree surfing, and other acrobatics. They wanted to have Tarzan do things a normal human actor simply couldn't do. Being animated also makes it much easier to show Tarzan having a legitimate bond with his adoptive family.
- Rule of Cool: The guy is surfing down giant vines. Either he has really smooth feet, or the vines are greased. Otherwise, there is a going to be a lot of friction.
- Save the Villain: Well, he tried anyway...
- Scenery Porn: The jungle is animated beautifully.
- Serendipitous Symphony: The "Trashing the Camp" sequence.
- Signature Roar: Tarzan's signature yell.
- Significant Green-Eyed Redhead: Tarzan's mom.◊
- Straying Baby: Kerchak and Kala's baby chases after a frog while his parents are asleep. This ends with the worst outcome possible; getting eaten by Sabor the leopard.
- Jane wears less and less clothes as the movie goes on. At the very end, her outfit would have been considered obscene for the period.
- Tarzan wears nothing but a Loin Cloth in the majority of the movie.
- Strong Family Resemblance: Without the mustache, Tarzan's father looks identical to his son.
- Super-Persistent Predator: Sabor. A leopard whose seemingly easy prey is suddenly defended by an adult gorilla would probably be better off seeking other prey.
- Take Care of the Kids: Kerchak tells Tarzan to take care of his troop at the end of the film.
- Tempting Fate: See Cue the Rain for one example.
- Time Skip: Once from baby Tarzan to kid Tarzan, and then kid Tarzan to adult Tarzan. Both happen near a musical number, too - the first is immediately after "You'll Be In My Heart" and the second is during "Son Of Man".
- Translation By Volume: Clayton tries to get Tarzan to understand the world "gorilla" by shouting it at him. Tarzan, of course, mimics him.
- Translation Convention: Around the animals, obviously.
- Tsundere: Jane. Just watch her reactions from when Tarzan is realizing there are other creatures like him and the way they interact during "Strangers Like Me".
- Vague Age: Tarzan's age is hard to pin down. As an adult, he is likely in his twenties.
- Vine Swing: Tarzan often does this; for example, when he rescues Jane from the baboons.
- Walking Shirtless Scene: Tarzan. Walking pant-less, too.
- "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Tarzan is constantly seeking the approval of Kerchak, who refuses to accept Tarzan as a member of the gorilla troop, much less as his adopted son. That all changes when Tarzan comes back to save them. Sadly, it doesn't last that long, as Kerchak receives a fatal bullet wound from Clayton. After Clayton's death, Tarzan kneels over Kerchak, who passes on leadership of the troop to Tarzan and acknowledges Tarzan as his son with his last words.
- What the Hell, Hero?: "Why didn't you tell me there were creatures that look like me?"
- Wild Child: The title character.
- You and What Army?: Tarzan may have been a pest as a child, but a baboon troop, a whole herd of elephants, a whole troop of gorillas - once freed, at least - and a freaking rhino and hippo ally with him to stop Clayton and the hunters.