Legend of Tarzan: Swinging Through Colonial History


by Cindy Beringer via SocialistWorker.org

THE LEGEND of Tarzan is not your grandparents’ jungle movie, and not just because of the computer-generated animals and the IMAX film format.

I checked out this movie to relive Saturday matinees where a quarter got a ticket and popcorn while Johnny Weissmuller swung through the jungle as Tarzan. But it was the possibility of a serious depiction of–as Joseph Conrad wrote–the horror!, the horror! of the colonization of the Congo which really drew me in.

Tarzan still swings through the jungle in this film. His faithful chimp Cheetah is gone, the loincloth has been replaced by low-slung britches, and the “Me Tarzan, you Jane” dialogue was left in the past.

Every Tarzan fan is aware that Tarzan’s parents were British aristocrats whose many-versioned deaths left Tarzan to be raised by apes in a far superior manner than what would have taken place in England as a child of privilege.

Tarzan appears in this film for the first time as Lord John Clayton III, Earl of Greystoke, a member of the House of Lords in late 19th century Britain, and a legend much reduced. He and Jane have married and live in an imposing manor house with all the trappings.Warning: More spoilers ahead.

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