Greystoke - The Legend of Tarzan
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Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes (DVD)
This savagely beautiful and profoundly moving saga of a man caught between two very different worlds tells the story of Tarzan from his boyhood among the great apes of Africa to his return to Britain to take his place as part of the aristocracy. Based on the story Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs.]]>
For the 20th anniversary of this adventure, the DVD delivers a new remastered Dolby 5.1 soundtrack and digital transfer of the extended edition that has been on video for years. This additional footage (about six minutes) includes an opening scene with the apes and a key sequence when Tarzan starts his trek to civilization. The only bonus feature is a lackluster commentary track with director Hugh Hudson and producer Garth Thomas. They talk about how their craftsman made the sets blend well with location shooting, but no aspect of the film's checkered history--from a star's voice-dubbing to Robert Towne taking his name off the film--is mentioned. Instead, we get lots of talk about the character's interior monologue, which is pretty apparent. The DVD does include the fantastic original trailer. --Doug Thomas
- All-new 20th anniversary digital transfer of special video cut, remastered in Dolby 5.1
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Well, the Blu-ray release is a limited release by the Warner Brothers Archive collection, and apparently, there are not many copies around!. So if you love this movie like I do, hurry, before it becomes a collector's item selling for over $100 on e-bay! So I finally received my copy directly from Warners (3 months later than anticipated), and another from a third party with Amazon, because apparently it is temporarily out of stock in the Amazon warehouses. The film is indeed the extended version (137 minutes) with an Overture, and a prologue, before the main titles. The transfer from film to Blu-ray in PANAVISION is breathtaking, and the 5.1 DTS soundtrack is sensational. Not many special features: just the commentary by the director and the standard definition trailer. What happened there Warners?, the previous Blu-ray Archive releases like GYPSY, DEATHTRAP, etc had the trailers remastered in HD. I figured, a relativily newer film, would be easier to have the trailer in good shape to master in 1080p. In any case THANK YOU Warner Archives, for making this jewel of a movie available to us. It is hard to believe it did not warrant a general commercial release for it's 30th anniversary. It is still great to watch after 3 decades. I strongly recommend this film, especially in HD!
not that there's no fun to be had with the mold best known in the form of Johnny Weissmuller, but to be honest, that character resembles what Burroughs wrote only insofar as living in the jungle. he's savvy enough in his own untamed element, but unsophisticated, speaking in broken English a' la Tonto. even his most memorable costars - Cheeta the chimp, Buli the elephant, Boy - tend to stem from those movies. Jane is the only character other than Tarzan to originate from the books.
as written by Burroughs, he is a son of a noble British family, born shortly after his parents are marooned on a remote African shore, and shortly before both die of a fever. the instinct of said nobility occasionally shines through even in the jungle. for instance, using his dead father's books, Tarzan teaches himself to read, even though it's not until years later, upon discovery by and/or of Civilized Man, that he learns what those words sound like.
we are currently living in what might be called the "golden age" of the superhero movie. by current thinking, a character's back-story is not only vital, but possibly the most dramatically promising story there is to tell. under such circumstances it's quite bewildering to think that, while Tarzan is the second-most filmed character in cinema history (just behind Sherlock Holmes), maybe 10% of said films manage to even fleetingly reference the man's aristocratic bloodline. quite a few, in fact, don't even bother to explain how he happened to end up in the jungle.
Greystoke is a largely successful effort to tell the story more thoroughly. it may not be quote as much escapist fun as the Weissmuller movies, and certainly it starts to run out of steam toward the end. still, it does artfully blend seemingly incompatible elements of action/adventure, fish-out-of-water whimsey, and Masterpiece Thearer-esque "clash of classes" drama. one Christopher Lambert (pronounced KREE-stoff Lam-BER) brings Burroughs' less cartoonish vision to more vivid life than most prior filmmakers seem to of thought possible.
not that it doesn't take it's own liberties. filmmakers don't have much choice, because books and movies are different art forms, and what works in one doesn't always manage to translate to the other. Peter Jackson once admitted that Lord Of The Rings is indeed "unfilmable," at least on a page-by-page basis which attempts to blindly follow J.R.R. Tolkien's lead. when you look at it that way, you realize there's no such thing as a "filmable" book.
granted, that doesn't keep a few of it's deviation from feeling a little off. most obviously the fact that Jane (Andie MacDowell) meets Tarzan at Greystoke Manor rather than coming to the jungle. oh yes, there's also the little matter of her becoming a locally bred ward of Lord Greystoke (Ralph Richardson), rather than a professor's daughter from Baltimore. and then there's the atypically somber finish in which, having failed to adapt to civilization, Tarzan returns to the jungle and turns his back on humanity forever.
but even so, a whole lot less of Burroughs is lost in translation than usual.
so maybe it's not the greatest Tarzan film ever made, but somehow I suspect it's the one Egdar Rice Burroughs would've disliked least.
Further, the fabled Tarzan yell has been replaced by a far more guttural (and believable), jungle rendering. Because of Christopher Lambert's intensely physical and intelligent portrayal of Tarzan, we can actually visualize how a man might be successfully brought out of the jungle in which he was reared, experience civilization, and return to the jungle again. There is nudity in the film associated with Tarzan's boyhood, but it is done tastefully without desiring to create offense or detract from the beauty of the film. Buy the DVD. Watch it. Then reread the original novel . I think any interest you may have in Burroughs' original Tarzan character will be rekindled.