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73 of 75 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Spectacular retelling of Edgar Rice Burroughs classic tale
Although it doesn't quite live up to Robert Towne's original script, "Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan Lord of The Apes" manages to bring much of the spectacle of Edgar Rice Burroughs' original tale with a distinctive, powerful edge missing from every other version of the novel. Towne's script and the film adhere to most of the narrative about Tarzan growing up while...
Published on July 31, 2004 by Wayne Klein

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Troubled, Yet Gorgeous, Tarzan Adaptation with a Great First Half
A fascinating curiosity but something of a troubled and uneven picture, "Greystoke" was originally the brainchild of "Chinatown" writer Robert Towne. After languishing in pre-production hell for years, Warner Bros. finally decided to rework Towne's script - which he had originally wanted to direct himself -- as a vehicle for director Hugh Hudson, then a red hot commodity...
Published 18 months ago by Andre Dursin


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73 of 75 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Spectacular retelling of Edgar Rice Burroughs classic tale, July 31, 2004
Although it doesn't quite live up to Robert Towne's original script, "Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan Lord of The Apes" manages to bring much of the spectacle of Edgar Rice Burroughs' original tale with a distinctive, powerful edge missing from every other version of the novel. Towne's script and the film adhere to most of the narrative about Tarzan growing up while drifting away from some of the more extreme fantasy elements present in the original novel.

When the child of a female gorilla is mercilessly beaten to death, his mother adopts an infant human whose parents were killed by the same gorilla. The couple were shipwrecked and thought dead by the man's grandfather the Earl of Greystoke. The infant continues to have conflicts with the lead gorilla of the group as he grows up and is, in fact, beaten up and left for dead at one point. As he grows into manhood, he discovers the home of his parents, his mother's locket, and his father's knife and sees his reflection for the first time. He's horrified and fascinated at the same time realizing that, while he doesn't quite look like his mother, she is still his mother. Gradually, he discovers children's blocks that show him what a human looks like for the first time.

When his mother is murdered by tribesmen hunting the gorillas for food, he fights back for the first time killing one of the tribesmen breaking the man's back. He also stands up to and kills the gorilla that tried to kill him and succeeded in killing his parents long ago. Tarzan (Christopher Lambert in his debut) is discovered by a French explorer (Ian Holm from "Chariots of Fire" and "The Lord of the Rings") who takes pity on the young man and brings him back to civilization discovering along the way that Tarzan is, indeed, the son of the missing heir to the Greystoke fortune and title.

The film moves Tarzan from the animal kingdom to the civilized world where the collision between how he was raised and who he has to become creates considerable conflict. Later, he meets and falls in love with Jane (Andie McDowell in her film debut but with her voice over dubbed by Glenn Close)but the conflicts between the civilized world and his experience continues to threaten their relationship and his inheritance.

Directed by Hugh Hudson ("Chariots of Fire", "I Dreamed of Africa"), the film generated much controversy when writer Robert Towne ("Chinatown", "Personal Best", "Tequila Sunrise" and "Shampoo") took his name off the credits substituting the name of his dog. Towne felt that Hudson (and the screenwriter Hudson brought in Michael Austin) strayed a bit from his original script which had an even more epic canvas to work from. Towne had been forced to sell off "Greystoke" which he had intended to direct due to money issues related to his directorial debut "Personal Best". While the film doesn't quite live up to Towne's vision, Hudson's film is still quite compelling and powerful capturing the sweep of the epic films made by David Lean. Although the script becomes a bit uneven when Tarzan returns to civilization, Christopher Lambert's portrayal of Tarzan along with Ian Holm, Sir Ralph Richardson, James Fox and McDowell/Close keeps the film interesting. Lambert's moody, brooding and quiet performance works well at keeping Tarzan a mysterious, sensuous figure. Lambert brings an animal physical presence to the role that quickly captures your attention. The tightly directed and edited action sequences also prevent the film from lagging.

Although the DVD doesn't have the type of extras it really deserves, Warner has lavished a considerable amount of money to bring us a very sharp, crisp and vivid anamorphic widescreen transfer. There's still a fair amount of analog blemishes in the form of hair and dirt but the bulk of this occurs during the opening titles. This version of the film never played theatrically in the U.S. Like the original videocassette, this version of "Greystoke" runs about 7 minutes longer with a prologue involving the apes and a sequence that briefly depicts Tarzan's trek to civilization. The marvelous score by John Scott has been remastered for Dolby Digital 5.1 bringing the sound up to date and we also get the beautiful Overture that greeted audiences as they walked in during the first few minutes before the movie began.

We get the marvelous original theatrical trailer as part of the extras and a commentary track by Director Hudson and Associate Producer Garth Thomas. They provide some very interesting tidbits about the shooting of the film but completely avoid discussing the decision to rewrite Towne's script and only making a passing mention of the voice recasting. The commentary would have been far more interesting had both decided to revisit their decision to bring Glenn Close to dub MacDowell's lines and the decision to pare back Towne's original, more expensive vision.

Although it might lack the epic vision that Towne had intended, Hudson's film still manages to make quite an impression. The film certainly has the epic feel of some of David Lean's epics and if the film becomes uneven during its second half, it still manages to swing to a satisfying conclusion.
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58 of 63 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I Just Don't Get Why They Call It A "Missed Opportunity.", March 3, 2004
By 
Erik Morton "Erik Morton" (Carmel, CA United States) - See all my reviews
I love those classic MGM Tarzan flicks with Johnny Weissmuller (classics all the way), and the 1999 animated Tarzan was IMHO the last great Disney film. But GREYSTOKE is without a doubt my favorite Tarzan film of all time. Not only is the only live-action adaptation to capture real emotion and drama, but it is also the most realistic. This is mainly due to the vastly underrated Christopher Lambert in the title role. He is absolutely amazing to watch, especially in his reactions to the new English surroundings. The supporting cast is first-rate, as well. You have Sir Ian Holm as the explorer who finds Tarzan, Andie MacDowell in her film debut as Jane, and the late, the great Ralph Richardson as Lord Greystoke. Add onto this a gorgeous musical score, stunning African jungle backgrounds, and some of Rick Baker's best make-up work ever, and you've got one helluva good motion picture.

I just can't believe how many people regard this movie as one of those "what-could-have-been" disasters. I hadn't seen the film in years, so when I picked up the DVD, I was prepared to think the same thing do to my older age and higher expectations as a film buff. Well let me tell you, it's even better than I remembered it! If the film did indeed have a troubled production, it certainly doesn't show on-screen. It's a beautiful movie, and required viewing.

The new DVD ain't too shabby, either. The picture looks great and the sound is very clear, if a bit lacking in surround. However, being the film's 20th Anniversary, I would've expected quite a bit more extras. All we get is a director's commentary, which is incredibly boring. But for such a low price tag, it's not a bad buy.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Setting the record staright, October 7, 2005
By 
Arthur Sippo (Highland, IL United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This film was an attempt to do justice to teh original idea of Tarzan that ERB had intended. There was just too much in the orignal story that could not be done in a single film, but I think this version has been the best attempt to date.

And the comment in the official Amazon review that having a French accented actor play Tarzan was a "mistake" shows that the reviewer never read the orignal book. The first human SPOKEN language that Tarzan learned was French which he learned from a French officer whom he had rescued. The Ian Holm character was in the original book. He was not an "add on." So not only was the casting of Christopher Lambert appropriate; it was true to ERB's orignal story line.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best adaptation of Burrough's "Tarzan, Lord of the Apes", May 25, 2000
There have been many film adaptations of Edgar Rice Burrough's tales of Tarzan. Most of them were produced in the earlier days of movie making, and were filmed on back lots in Hollywood. While a number of them provided good entertainment, few of them really depicted Burrough's book, "Tarzan, Lord of the Apes." "Greystoke" is, however, different in that respect.
While there are certainly disparities between Burrough's book and this movie, "Greystoke" is the most faithful in storyline, character development, and essence of any Tarzan movie I have seen. Christopher Lambert does a great job as Tarzan. And Andie MacDowell makes an enticing Jane.
I wonder how the movie would have played though if the director/producer had decided to use Andie MacDowell's own voice instead of opting to have Glenn Close do voice overs for all of Andie's lines? Perhaps they thought that Andie's slight southern accent would detract from the atmosphere they were trying to develop?
Anyway, the visual impact of the movie is great. The scenery is awesome. The sound track is supporting and blends into the overall sensory effect that helps drive the movie forward. One down side has to be the costuming for the apes. While the costumes were adequate, they were inferior to other top-notch visual effects of the movie. To be fair to the special effects folks, there were few other options in 1983 that would allow a more realistic representation of animals like great apes and the kinds of ape-human interactions needed to make the film work.
While the intent of Burroughs, or of the movie, is not to depict true ape biology, the scenes showing apes using leaves to get water from a puddle, and twigs to get ants from an ant hill are well documented ape behaviors. Another impressive part of the movie to me was the accurate portrayal of the state of the art of Victorian English biological science -- "Bring 'em back preserved." Along those same lines, the overriding sense of human, and especially British superiority of that era also comes through in the movie.
All in all a great effort. Definitely 5 stars for setting the standard for Tarzan movies, and for being a well-done piece of film making.
Alan Holyoak
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Audio and Video Quality, February 7, 2014
Please describe the audio and video qualities of any Blu-Ray you review. Thanks to those who do this.

Aspect Ratio: 2.35 or 2.40 : 1
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1

I thought the video quality was great. I didn't notice any grain. I would give it a 9.4 on a 10.0 scale.
I thought the audio was great. Lots of surround sound. Not a whole lot of sub-woofer bass.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE Tarzan Movie, September 2, 2000
By A Customer
As a Burroughs fan of more than two decades, I cannot praise this film highly enough. The only other Tarzan movie that even comes close to capturing the spirit of the character this well is the Disney animated feature (if only most of the characters in it, along with the saccharine ending and the horrendous music could be redone). Obviously, there are large portions of the film that depart greatly from the orignal novel. But, let's be realistic! There are characters and scenes in the novel that are just plain offensive by today's standards. Being the sensitive gentleman that he was, Burroughs himself would have written it differently today. If anything, the film managed to amplify the dichotomy present in the character (which, for all you non-English Majors out there, was an overriding theme of Victorian British literature). In fact, making the story more "British" than the books makes sense! After all, Tarzan is an English lord. ERB would have been very pleased with this interpretation of his most successful character. Aside from all else, it simply is an incredible work in its own right, with beautiful cinematography, extraordinarily deep emotion and content, and a solid storyline. And yes, it probably is the most underrated film of the 1980's. (Oh, to see a sequel worthy of the first, or better yet a tale of John Carter that could compare!)
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 'Greystoke' - Burroughs' Lord of the Apes is king on Blu-ray, August 8, 2013
By 
K. Reynolds (Norfolk, VA USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
THIS FILM ABOUT a baby born in the African jungle, raised by apes, and then brought as an adult into strict Edwardian society, was made for high-def. Filmed mostly in Cameroon and Scotland, the color is gorgeous with lush, jungle panoramas contrasted against the cool, grey-washed vistas of the Highlands. Obviously remastered from the high-def master, the 1080p Blu-ray shows no sign of digital manipulation; dirt and scratches have been removed. Details, like Tarzan's scars, the fur on the amazing wolfhounds, and maggots, which are fed into an ape mechanism, look exceptionally realistic.

That said, some of Tarzan's ape family looks sketchy now, especially in this age of motion-capture and CGI. (Consider Andy Serkis in "Rise of the Planet of the Apes," 2011) These apes, a creation for "Greystoke," are larger than chimpanzees, yet smaller than gorillas. Seven-time Oscar-winning effects artist Rick Baker designed costumes for actors no larger than 5-foot 5. The ape-actors then spent months in training to perfect simian mannerisms. It was cutting-edge at the time and earned Baker an Oscar nomination for Best Makeup along with Paul Engelen. Robert Towne and Michael Austin were also nominated for Best Writing from a Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium, in this case Edgar Rice Burroughs' "Tarzan, Lord of the Apes" adventure novels. Sir Ralph Richardson, who plays the Sixth Earl of Greystoke, Tarzan's grandfather, earned a posthumous nomination for Best Supporting Actor. "Greystoke" was Richardson's last film and his is an endearing and genuine performance.

It was also "Highlander" Christopher Lambert's first English-speaking role. He plays John Clayton/Tarzan with an inborn dignity, even while engaging in ape antics. (The younger Tarzan is played by a swimming champion.) He does a great job of presenting a character that was raised in the wild, without human contact. As an adult, he is constantly conflicted despite some joyful moments. The class segregation of Edwardian England was rigid - think first season "Downton Abbey; it was not the culture to accept a wild child. As an eccentric member of the aristocracy, young Greystoke can get away with it ... almost. Heartbreaking moments come for John/Tarzan when he can't accept that extremely prejudiced society that considers itself civilized.

Andie McDowell also made her screen-acting debut in "Greystoke" as Jane, Tarzan's love interest. It was a casting move that heightened the chemistry between her and Lambert. The studio, however, had her voice dubbed by Glen Close. Close also voiced Kala, Tarzan's ape mother.

The movie was originally released in Dolby stereo with a 70mm, 6-track soundtrack. It has been upgraded to an immersive DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix that provides better than average separation. Dialogue, animal noises, and score mix very well.

Commentary from director Hugh Hudson ("Chariots of Fire," "I Dreamed of Africa") and associate producer Garth Thomas is passionate and loaded with detail. Created for the 20th Anniversary DVD, it's the only extra on the disc and definitely worth hearing. Hudson's intention was to make the film as realistic as possible, but conflicts with Towne ("Chinatown") caused the writer to substitute his onscreen credit with his dog's name, P.H. Vazak.

While the story is supposed to be more like Burroughs' book, the script takes liberties, especially in the tone which relies more on mood than action. Think of it as an "Ode to the Jungle Lord." We never hear the name "Tarzan" spoken in the film; his grandfather calls him "Johnnie." The score is symphonic, relying on original music from John Scott and Elgar's First Symphony.

Two endings were filmed, one where Jane returns to England, one where she joins Tarzan in the jungle according to American tradition. The director chose the most lifelike as possible. Still, in the end, it's the audience who decides.

For me, she stays!

-- Kay Reynolds
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Tarzan movie EVER, January 15, 2004
By A Customer
This movie tells a great story, with exceptional acting from the entire cast, believable apes, and with an important message. This is Lamberts best role.
Who is the stupid movie Exec. who hasn't released this film to DVD yet? I've been waiting years to replace my aging VHS copy, and my patience is wearing thin.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply the best Tarzan movie made..., March 20, 2003
By 
Freth (Delaware, OH United States) - See all my reviews
I remember watching this movie back when it came out in the early 80's. It was refreshing compared to the cheesy Tarzan movies I used to watch as a kid. Here we have a real story that takes you from the beginning, through the jungle, back to civilization and to the jungle again. I just can't wait for this movie to come out on DVD. I refuse to buy the VHS version unless it's really cheap. Don't miss this movie.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent in jungle, which is not enough of movie., October 25, 1999
The amazon reviewer obviously never read the books. The reason why he has french accent is that is the first language Tarzan learns. His mentor was French. Tarzan learned to read english but speak french.
How about getting people who represent Amazon who know their subject.
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