on June 9, 2004
This simply has got to be one of the best Tarzan films ever made. Yet I can't help feeling that this Tarzan film is merely
a great prelude of what could have been a great series of more
Tarzan films. Christopher Lambert was excellent as Tarzan/John Clayton and Andie MacDowell looked beautiful as Jane (dubbed by
Glen Close). The scene of the jungle explorers traveling down
a African river via tramp steamer reminded me of Disney World's
Jungle Cruise ride exactly. Beautiful cinematography and Rick
Baker's ape effects were fantastic. This Tarzan film seems to take place around the late 1890s - early 1900s, so the attention
to period detail was very well done. So if jungle adventure and
romance is to your liking, check out this terrific film. Enjoy.
"Half of me is the Earl of Greystoke, the other half is wild."
The above comes from this impressive movie based on Edgar Rice Burroughs' 1912 novel "Tarzan of the Apes."
This movie was done so well that it was the first ever "Tarzan" feature film to be nominated for an Academy Award.
For purists, the first half of this movie follows Burroughs' original story and is quite beautifully filmed. There is minimal talking in this half. It is the second half that departs radically from the original story. Nonetheless, this second half is quite well done.
All the main actors do excellent jobs in their roles. Christopher Lambert, a French/English actor gives a believable performance as Tarzan/John Clayton, Seventh Earl of Greystoke. He does not appear until about 43 minutes into this movie. This was his English movie debut.
Andie McDowell as Jane had her voice dubbed by Glenn Close (uncredited). Her voice was dubbed because of her southern U.S. accent. She appears about 1 hour and 15 minutes into the movie. This was her movie debut.
Sir Ralph Richardson (1902 to 1983) gives an admirable performance as the Sixth Earl of Greystoke and John Clayton's grandfather. This was his last movie and this movie is dedicated to him.
Another good performance comes from Ian Holm who plays Captain D'Arnot. He found Tarzan in the jungles of Africa and realized he was John Clayton. It was he who brought Tarzan/John back to upper-class human civilization.
Realize, the name "Tarzan" is never used in this movie!!
The music is performed by The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. In fact, this movie begins with a minute and a half "overture" performed by this orchestra.
Filming was in Cameroon (in Africa) and Scotland. Specific locations in the UK included Floor's Castle, Blenheim Palace, and The Natural History Museum.
Finally, the DVD itself (released in 2004) has only two extras.
In conclusion, this Tarzan movie is a lavish, magical epic not to be missed!!!
(1984; 2 hr, 13 min excluding end credits; widescreen; 37 scenes)
<<Stephen PLETKO, London, Ontario, Canada>>
on November 16, 2010
A few days ago I sat down and watched Greystoke: The Legend Of Tarzan which I hadn't seen since its original release about twenty-five years ago.
My biggest complaint with this film is it's pacing in some spots. It just seems to drag unlike the way I remember it. Or perhaps I, too, have become accustomed to more contemporary films with generally quicker pacing on average. I know this film isn't strictly faithful to Edgar Rice Burroughs original novel, but it does have a look and sensibility that feels right. Christopher Lambert isn't a bad Tarzan, but I think they could have cast better and someone with a little more meat to his physique. I think the film also needed something else to the story other than Tarzan/John Clayton dealing with being torn between two worlds. In some respects this might seem a more realistic take on Tarzan, but perhaps it's a bit too much so and there isn't enough larger-than-life aspects to the character and his world. I'm also reflecting on the covers I've seen on some of the Burroughs' Tarzan novels and I'm inclined to visualize those when I think of Tarzan---a little more larger-than-life action.
This isn't a bad film, but I can see where it could have been better.
on May 24, 2004
"Greystoke - The Legend of Tarzan" could have been a classic. Lord John Clayton of Greystoke is shipwrecked in Africa with his pregnant wife. Shortly after she gives birth, they both die from an ape attack. One of the apes take little John, and raise him as her own. He grows up strong but wild and savage (now played by Christopher Lambert). One day he is happened upon by a French explorer. He is eventually returned to his family, but he finds it hard to fit in with "civilized" people. Along the way, he falls in love with Jane (played by Andie MacDowell, but her voice was dubbed by Glen Close, why they did this I'll never know?). It had a populor director (Hugh Hudson), an accomplished writer (Robert Towne), was beautifully photographed (especially in the jungles, it is just breathtaking) and based on one of the most populor books of the 20th century by Edgar Rice Burroughs. But it isn't that good. What happened? Well, the first hour or so there is no dialogue; but that is okay, because the physical expressions of the apes and Tarzan are pretty self explanatory. (By the way, he is never referred to as 'Tarzan'.) When he is 'rescued' and moved to England, nothing very adventurous happenes there. What happened to pirates coming out of the wood work trying to kidnap Jane? Where are the warriors from Opar? I'm sorry, "Greystoke" was pretty dull. The actors do ok, I guess. Ian Holm is alright, good in fact. Ralf Richardson looked like he was having a good time, and the relationship between he and his grandson rang pretty true. It is hard to tell if MacDowell was any good, with being dubbed over. But what about Tarzan? Christopher Lambert was actually good. I really liked his performance as the childlike savage. He played being in awe of the city wonderfully. He didn't talk a lot, but maybe that is a good thing. His acting tends to be a little wooden; in fact, in my opinion, he just happens to be in the right place at the right time, like this one and "Highlander". I read the novels and I think about how this movie could have been so much more. Still, it is a beautifully shot movie, and it dose play fair, so it is worth your time. If you can find it, watch the extended version, it is a little bit more action packed (loved how Tarzan took out the entire outpost!).
on March 3, 2004
GREYSTOKE is without a doubt the best Tarzan movie ever made (though I must admit, the Disney version came pretty close). Not only is it the most loyal to Edgar Rice Burrough's original novel, but it's the only adaptation to contain real drama. GREYSTOKE has an epic scope and musical score, and a cast of fine actors, including Sir Ian Holm, Sir Ralph Richardson, Andie MacDowell (though she was dubbed over by Glenn Close), and Christopher Lambert in his very first movie, and what a way to start! With his eyes alone, he expresses an emotion that many actors can't even muster with their entire bodies. Add to that some of Rick Baker's best make-up work ever, and you've got yourself a doozie of a movie. In short, GREYSTOKE is a classic, much neglected by modern viewers.
I have been waiting. And waiting. And waiting. But alas, this movie was no where to be found on the DVD format. Well, the long wait is finally over. Though I was hoping for a Two-Disc Special Edition release, this is goods enough. I just hope that it has SOME special features. Or, maybe they could just work on the movie and include a commentary track. For instance, they should definitely release the extended version available on VHS, and return Andie MacDowell's original voice track. And of course, give the movie a new digital transfer with Dolby Digital 5.1, or maybe even DTS!
Just having this movie on DVD will be good enough for me. That said, Warner had better not screw this one up!
on October 23, 2003
First I have to say that this editorial reviewer above this is an idiot. He obviously never read the Tarzan books because in actuality the man that teaches Tarzan language and brings him back to society is a Frenchman. They did not just make this up for the movie, though they did make up a few other things.
I am a huge Tarzan fan, mostly the first 4 books, (there are 24 total.) This movie is most definitely the closest in relation with the book, but it still does not quite do it justice. The beginning is very well done, and Christopher Lambert (I think) does an excellent job of playing Tarzan, he's more like the Tarzan in the book and less like the Tarzan that Hollywood has concocted. It's pretty and holds your attention, but in the end is a bit of a dissapointment. It captures the spirit, but I still feel like I've never seen the Tarzan story captured perfectly on film. I think I'll just have to do it myself one day. It's fun to watch and good to see if you're a fan of the books just to get a glimpse of another person's interpretation. (And they've got Bilbo playing Tarzan's buddy! How funny!)
on April 20, 2003
I've reviewed Disney's Tarzan, the animated story recently, but looking at this film, there is, by far, no comparison between the two.
This film was produced in 1984, and with Christopher Lambert in the starring role, it is truly one of the best of the genre. The first half hour or so, we come to "discover" how he ended up in the jungle, and then as the years go by, we see "little" Tarzan (AKA: Greystoke), as he lunges through the vines and has his rapport with the animals. And this, contrary to what many feel, is one of the highlights of the movie. Not much English language, but a language only true to its form - which is animal communication, and Lambert pulls it off brilliantly.
Then the "group" come into the jungle, along with Andie MacDowell, and her father. To watch how Greystoke deals with the intruders is stunning, and the way he "rescues" the stranger from death is well worth viewing.
The saddest part of this film, I believe, is when Greystoke is brought back to "civilization," and you can just about feel his pain at the loss of what he knew. Then, of course, he has become an oddity in "proper England," only to arouse the jealousy of Ms. MacDowell's suitors, as well as uproot whatever theories the social scientists had about human nature.
This is a remarkable film, and it is, in some ways, truly a sensational and exotic adventure into the heart of the human heart. The scene between Greystoke and his newly acquired "girlfriend" (MacDowell) borders on the erotic, although this was done with great art, and it didn't plunge the viewer into a tasteless scene of sensationalism.
A brilliant movie, and like the title of this review suggests, it is like reading the original novel. Highly recommended!!
on October 22, 2002
Marshall Fine, in his featured review (above) states that Greystoke was a 'missed opportunity'. He claims that "the film tried to rethink the Tarzan legend of Edgar Rice Burroughs". Well, sure it did, and thank the stars that it had such talented writers and a great director. I wonder if Marshall Fine has ever read 'Tarzan of the Apes'? The book is appallingly written trash - the worst of the pulp genre. Far from being a misbegotten attempt to create a film version of Tarzan, this movie represents the best Tarzan ever created - a realistic rendition of what Edgar Rice Burroughs' book should have been.
Marshall Fine's review states that "By casting French-accented Christopher Lambert as Tarzan, the filmmakers had to transform his white-hunter mentor Ian Holm into a Frenchman to explain those inflections in Tarzan's monosyllabic speech". Again, Marshall misses the mark, since it's clear that he doesn't realise that Edgar Rice Burroughs WROTE Tarzan as having learned French under the tutelage of a French naval lieutenant. According to the BOOK, Tarzan's English was poor, and he DID speak it with a French accent. The casting wasn't a mistake - it was intentional, and it was the correct decision if the filmmakers wanted to faithfully transfer the book to the screen. What was Marshall Fine thinking???
In my opinion, this movie brings us the REAL Tarzan. It's such a pity that because of shortsighted and ignorant reviews, the movie did not attract the audience it should have reached. Too bad it's only available on VHS - I would like to see a feature-packed DVD version of this classic movie.
on May 26, 2002
Even though it doesn't really bear on the quality (or lack there of) of this movie, I'd like to clear up a very common misconception about this film.
It is absolutley nothing like the novel on which it is supposedly based. However, for some reason people who appearantly mistook the Greystoke press release for Burrough's novel continue to perpetuate the myth that this is a faithful adaption of the novel. Even Disney's _Tarzan_ which deviated greatly from the novel itself had more simularities to it than this.
Of course this doesn't make Greystoke a bad movie. However, it is disappointing that no film has ever told the story of Burrough's book because _Tarzan_ was not only a very good novel, it is the kind of novel that would make an incredible film if anyone would ever bother to film it rather than simply borrow its title character.
As for _Greystoke_, it's best near the begining when Tarzan is in the jungle, but it just becomes tedious once the story moves to England.
It's hard to articulate exactly what is wrong with this film. It isn't so much that anything is wrong with it, but there is so very little good about it. The idea of a story about a man who grew up as an ape trying to become a man sounds compelling, but on the screen it gets old fast.
Lambert and MacDowell don't help much with performances which like the film aren't really bad but aren't good either. Lambert to often makes it obvious that he is acting and the fact that MacDowell had to be dubbed by Glenn Close doesn't help her performance.
Ralph Richardson on the other hand gives a very good performance and carries the parts of the film he has the misfortune of being in.
The ending is completely unsatisfying. It tries for the same bittersweet quality of the novel's ending, but because the film so firmly establishes that Tarzan is out of place in the world of man, it has trouble coming to a sensible conclusion.
Hopefully, Hollywood will someday make a good version of _Tarzan_, but this isn't it. But don't take my word for it. Screenwriter Robert Towne was so disastified with the final film that he had his name taken of the picture. Instead the screenplay was credited P. H. Vazak, the name of Towne's dog. Then again, maybe Vazak did write this one.
on September 2, 2000
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!)