Wednesday, April 1, 2009


Tarzan; animated adventure, USA, 1999; D: Chris Buck, Kevin Lima, S: Tony Goldwyn, Minnie Driver, Rosie O'Donnell, Glenn Close, Brian Blessed, Lance Henriksen

19th Century. A young couple and their baby get stranded along the coast of Africa. When a leopard kills them, a gorilla mother, Kala, manages to save the baby and raise it as it's own, gving him the name Tarzan. He makes friends with gorilla Terkina and elephant Tantor. But one day an expedition arrives in the jungle to observe the gorillas, and Tarzan barely manages to save the beautiful Jane from a horde of baboons. She teaches him how to speak, but as he wants to leave with her to England, he realizes an evil hunter, Clayton, wants to shoot as many gorrilas as possible. Tarzan manages to save them, while Clayton accidentally hangs himself on the vines. Jane decides to stay with Tarzan.

The 37th and last animated feature length film during the Renaissance of the Walt Disney studios in the 90s, "Tarzan" is a fine adventure fairy tale about the hero who feels alien in his society. It is a far better movie than its reputation - truth be told, the first 20 minutes are pure kitsch, the jokes are standardly silly for Disney animated films, the story has cliches while the finale with the bad guy is terribly predictable since it copies the exact same formula from almost all the other endings from Disney animated films, yet it is still a surprisingly well made movie as a whole, thanks to its romantic-emotional constitution and especially the enchanting songs by Phil Collins, "Strangers Like Me" being the best. It may seem predictable that in the 90s a Disney animated film won an Oscar and a Golden Globe for best song almost every year, but whether it is Collins' "You'll Be in My Heart" or Alan Menken's "A Whole New World", all of them were equally amazing, and it would really be a sin to deny that they were miraculous. And the charachter of Jane, who shows up some 30 minutes into the film - she is the most beautiful and dashing girl in any Disney animated film of the 20th Century. Truly, it is hard to not be charmed by her charisma and her design that seems as if it was inspired by animes. Just one smile of her reveals hundreds of hours of effort of the animators and spirit that no computer animated charachter has. Not to mention that the sequence where Tarzan saves Jane from a horde of wild baboons is virtuoso directed, as well as the brave moments where he puts his head on her chest to hear her heartbeat - it is a wonder how they dared and managed to get such an intimate moment in "Tarzan". For a mainstream film, this is still a genuinet and fresh story.


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