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Western Animation / Tarzan

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"Put your faith in what you most believe in
Two worlds, one family
Trust your heart, let faith decide
To guide these lives we see..."

Tarzan, released in 1999, is the 37th film in the Disney Animated Canon and the tenth and final film in the Disney Renaissance.note  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.note  Phil Collins composed the songs.

The film opens in the late 1860snote , where an English couple and their infant son are the only survivors of a shipwreck off the coast of uncharted Darkest Africa. Using the remains of the ship, they build a new home in a large tree while they await rescue. At the same time, a gorilla named Kala and her mate Kerchak (Glenn Close and Lance Henriksen) live peacefully with an infant child. The peace is soon shattered when their child is killed by the vicious leopard Sabor, and Kala is left devastated. Some time later, she hears a baby's cries and stumbles upon the now-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. Kerchak despises the human for his appearance, but Kala decides to raise him anyway, naming him "Tarzan".

Tarzan grows up to become a strong, gorilla-like man, whose best friends are a tomboyish female gorilla named Terk and a neurotic elephant named Tantor (Rosie O'Donnell and Wayne Knight). One day, Sabor attacks the gorillas and is defeated by Tarzan, which earns him some respect from Kerchak. Then a British expedition team come to study gorillas appears, led by Professor Archimedes Q. Porter (Nigel Hawthorne). 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 escort Clayton from ruining everything...

Marking something of a transitional point for the Disney Animated Canon, the film diverges stylistically from previous films of the Disney Renaissance in a few ways. For one thing: nearly all of the songs are non-diegetic pieces performed by a well-known pop artistnote , rather than Broadway-style musical numbers performed by the characters.note  For another thing: it takes a more grounded approach to the concept of talking animals (a perennial staple of Disney films) by establishing that only the protagonist can speak to animals due to being raised by gorillas, while the other human characters can't.

Disney films released over the following decade would continue to diverge from the studio's traditional oeuvre, leading many fans and critics to dub it the "Experimental Era". One of those films, Brother Bear, notably brought back Phil Collins as a Pop-Star Composer.

The film was followed by an animated series, The Legend of Tarzan, and two direct-to-video sequels, a compilation film titled Tarzan & Jane and an Interquel titled Tarzan II. The movie was even adapted into a short-lived Broadway musical.

If you were looking for the 1970s Saturday-Morning Cartoon series by Filmation, see Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle.

Tarzan provides examples of:

Animated film

Tropes specific to the Broadway Musical

  • Adaptational Context Change: During "Strangers Like Me," Tarzan's verse about showing Jane his jungle world has him introducing her to Kala, whom she originally didn't meet until late in the film.
  • Adaptational Nice Guy: Downplayed in that his actions are framed as more sympathetic, but Kerchak is all but stated to have had a less-than-pleasant encounter with poachers before, which is why he is warry of Tarzan. He only banishes Tarzan out of fear for the rest of the troop and doing it is clearly not easy for him.
  • Adaptational Modesty: Jane's Stripperific clothing development in the film is averted, though some productions have her wearing her Fur Bikini during the curtain call.
  • Adaptational Nationality: Clayton is American rather than British.
  • Adapted Out: Tantor is removed entirely from the Broadway musical version. Justified in that, while gorillas and leopards are roughly human-sized and can be played by costumed actors, an elephant would be very difficult to be put on stage.
  • Distant Duet: Depending on the production, "For The First Time," where Jane and Tarzan sing about their budding feelings for each other.
  • Gender Flip: Terk is portrayed as a male.Doubles as a Mythology Gag; when the movie was in production, the book character Terkoz wasn't working well, and was changed into the female character Terkina.
  • Irrelevant Act Opener: "Trashin' the Camp" becomes this.
  • Karma Houdini: Unlike the film, Clayton doesn't die, and doesn't receive any comeuppance for his actions.
  • No Song for the Wicked: Clayton does not participate in any of the show's musical numbers, much less have one of his own.
  • Sidekick Song: Terk gets one, "Who Better Than Me".
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Everyone who dies in the film is killed in the musical, except for Clayton, the villain.

'Cause you'll be in my heart,
Yes, you'll be in my heart
From this day on, now and forevermore
You'll be in my heart,
No matter what they say
You'll be here in my heart, always...

Alternative Title(s): Tarzan 1999


Kala Finds Baby Tarzan

Kala the Gorilla finds baby Tarzan.

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Main / NearlyNormalAnimal

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