Im going to start writing blogs on some of my all time favorite films and i love alot of films so there’s a second agenda to these films, in particular they are films I feel people have either forgotten about and have fallen through the cracks of most peoples dvd collection or next flix list’s.
ok so my first film is “Greystoke The Legend of Tarzan”. it came out in 1984, directed by hugh Hudson, most famous for directing ” chariots of fire”.
based on my research the movie got somewhat mixed reviews but did walk away with 3 oscar nominations, best screenplay, best special effects ( rick baker no less) and best supporting actor Ralph Richardson.
Greystoke was a fresh modern rethinking of the Tarzan story. for the most part Tarzan had been relegated to saturday after noon serials with johnny weissmuller. monosyllabic at best, he primarily was an action man, no subtext, no real drama. the let’s not forget the Jon derek film starring his wife Bo derek and super stud miles o’keefe. it was soft core porn essentially. the movie was more concerned with jane than tarzan. still compared to the weissmuller serials it was like a checkov play.
see for me the essential difference between “greystoke” and everything else was how the character was reimagined. up to the release of the film tarzan wasn’t what you would call a deep thinker. he was a simple fella. few banana’s , jane by his side and he was as happy as a pig in shit. he was mainly a figure of action and everything was about his physique.
Greystoke did a genius thing they got a skinny actor. good old Christopher Lambert. one of my childhood idols was a man with an intense stare, you look at those eyes and you knew something was going on. it wasnt about muscle, or brute force. this was an animal in a mans clothing. and you saw it every time he looked at you.
so the staples of the classic story are still in place. parents crash on island, they give birth to tarzan, they die, he gets raised by monkeys then gets discovered and brought home.
but for the first time the material is given weight. Ian holm plays captain phillipe the man who discovers john out in the wild and helps to domesticate him. he becomes like a big brother and helps john to become a man someone with kindness and grace. and sir ralph Richardson is amazing as Tarzan’s, grandfather. eccentric and loving he was devastated when his children were not found. he loves this boy like his son. and john(tarzan) loves him instantly as well.
then theres jane, played by Andie Macdowell although they changed her voice in pos and now you hear Glen close when she speaks. this too was a change, jane now was an independent women who wasnt some helpless little thing that needed tarzan to save.
and into this life tarzan comes. He tries to get along with normal life but he finds it hard, people lie and motives dont seem clear and thats something he doesnt understand.
Christopher Lambert gives possibly his best performance. I firmly believe he is an actor with amazing potential. but not everyone is DeNiro. some actors can thrive no matter how bad the material is and others sink to the bottom of the ocean. Lambert needs good material, and when he has it he succeeds.
his Tarzan is smart, funny, sad, intense, kind. he add’s dimension to a character that had never been given any, at least not cinematically.
beautiful cinematography, a great script and great direction, top notch acting from Lambert, Holms, and Richardson. Warning!!! its not an action film and those are some of the complaints i have heard. you want action go rent the saturday morning serials.
are there problems? yeah of course. mainly to do with a soft middle and some so so special effects but nothing to keep it from being enjoyed.
but if you want a beautifully made film that has depth and pathos, about what it would really be like to grow up thinking you were an animal then treat yourself to this film.