An infant raised to manhood among savage apes, living by his wits and the law of the jungle, returns to society to claim his inheritance of humanity and privilege. This collision of "wild" and "civilized" worlds is the ext... more »raordinary saga of Tarzan, chronicled in Edgar Rice Burroughs' popular book series. Starring: Christopher Lambert, Andie MacDowell, Ian Holm« less
Spectacular retelling of Edgar Rice Burroughs classic tale
Wayne Klein | My Little Blue Window, USA | 08/01/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Although it doesn't quite live up to Robert Towne's original script, "Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan Lord of The Apes" manages to bring much of the spectacle of Edgar Rice Burroughs' original tale with a distinctive, powerful edge missing from every other version of the novel. Towne's script and the film adhere to most of the narrative about Tarzan growing up while drifting away from some of the more extreme fantasy elements present in the original novel.
When the child of a female gorilla is mercilessly beaten to death, his mother adopts an infant human whose parents were killed by the same gorilla. The couple were shipwrecked and thought dead by the man's grandfather the Earl of Greystoke. The infant continues to have conflicts with the lead gorilla of the group as he grows up and is, in fact, beaten up and left for dead at one point. As he grows into manhood, he discovers the home of his parents, his mother's locket, and his father's knife and sees his reflection for the first time. He's horrified and fascinated at the same time realizing that, while he doesn't quite look like his mother, she is still his mother. Gradually, he discovers children's blocks that show him what a human looks like for the first time.
When his mother is murdered by tribesmen hunting the gorillas for food, he fights back for the first time killing one of the tribesmen breaking the man's back. He also stands up to and kills the gorilla that tried to kill him and succeeded in killing his parents long ago. Tarzan (Christopher Lambert in his debut) is discovered by a French explorer (Ian Holm from "Chariots of Fire" and "The Lord of the Rings") who takes pity on the young man and brings him back to civilization discovering along the way that Tarzan is, indeed, the son of the missing heir to the Greystoke fortune and title.
The film moves Tarzan from the animal kingdom to the civilized world where the collision between how he was raised and who he has to become creates considerable conflict. Later, he meets and falls in love with Jane (Andie McDowell in her film debut but with her voice over dubbed by Glenn Close)but the conflicts between the civilized world and his experience continues to threaten their relationship and his inheritance.
Directed by Hugh Hudson ("Chariots of Fire", "I Dreamed of Africa"), the film generated much controversy when writer Robert Towne ("Chinatown", "Personal Best", "Tequila Sunrise" and "Shampoo") took his name off the credits substituting the name of his dog. Towne felt that Hudson (and the screenwriter Hudson brought in Michael Austin) strayed a bit from his original script which had an even more epic canvas to work from. Towne had been forced to sell off "Greystoke" which he had intended to direct due to money issues related to his directorial debut "Personal Best". While the film doesn't quite live up to Towne's vision, Hudson's film is still quite compelling and powerful capturing the sweep of the epic films made by David Lean. Although the script becomes a bit uneven when Tarzan returns to civilization, Christopher Lambert's portrayal of Tarzan along with Ian Holm, Sir Ralph Richardson, James Fox and McDowell/Close keeps the film interesting. Lambert's moody, brooding and quiet performance works well at keeping Tarzan a mysterious, sensuous figure. Lambert brings an animal physical presence to the role that quickly captures your attention. The tightly directed and edited action sequences also prevent the film from lagging.
Although the DVD doesn't have the type of extras it really deserves, Warner has lavished a considerable amount of money to bring us a very sharp, crisp and vivid anamorphic widescreen transfer. There's still a fair amount of analog blemishes in the form of hair and dirt but the bulk of this occurs during the opening titles. This version of the film never played theatrically in the U.S. Like the original videocassette, this version of "Greystoke" runs about 7 minutes longer with a prologue involving the apes and a sequence that briefly depicts Tarzan's trek to civilization. The marvelous score by John Scott has been remastered for Dolby Digital 5.1 bringing the sound up to date and we also get the beautiful Overture that greeted audiences as they walked in during the first few minutes before the movie began.
We get the marvelous original theatrical trailer as part of the extras and a commentary track by Director Hudson and Associate Producer Garth Thomas. They provide some very interesting tidbits about the shooting of the film but completely avoid discussing the decision to rewrite Towne's script and only making a passing mention of the voice recasting. The commentary would have been far more interesting had both decided to revisit their decision to bring Glenn Close to dub MacDowell's lines and the decision to pare back Towne's original, more expensive vision.
Although it might lack the epic vision that Towne had intended, Hudson's film still manages to make quite an impression. The film certainly has the epic feel of some of David Lean's epics and if the film becomes uneven during its second half, it still manages to swing to a satisfying conclusion. "
I Just Don't Get Why They Call It A "Missed Opportunity."
Erik Morton | Carmel, CA United States | 03/03/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I love those classic MGM Tarzan flicks with Johnny Weissmuller (classics all the way), and the 1999 animated Tarzan was IMHO the last great Disney film. But GREYSTOKE is without a doubt my favorite Tarzan film of all time. Not only is the only live-action adaptation to capture real emotion and drama, but it is also the most realistic. This is mainly due to the vastly underrated Christopher Lambert in the title role. He is absolutely amazing to watch, especially in his reactions to the new English surroundings. The supporting cast is first-rate, as well. You have Sir Ian Holm as the explorer who finds Tarzan, Andie MacDowell in her film debut as Jane, and the late, the great Ralph Richardson as Lord Greystoke. Add onto this a gorgeous musical score, stunning African jungle backgrounds, and some of Rick Baker's best make-up work ever, and you've got one helluva good motion picture.
I just can't believe how many people regard this movie as one of those "what-could-have-been" disasters. I hadn't seen the film in years, so when I picked up the DVD, I was prepared to think the same thing do to my older age and higher expectations as a film buff. Well let me tell you, it's even better than I remembered it! If the film did indeed have a troubled production, it certainly doesn't show on-screen. It's a beautiful movie, and required viewing.
The new DVD ain't too shabby, either. The picture looks great and the sound is very clear, if a bit lacking in surround. However, being the film's 20th Anniversary, I would've expected quite a bit more extras. All we get is a director's commentary, which is incredibly boring. But for such a low price tag, it's not a bad buy."
Exquisite Remake...Gorgeous DVD
L. Shirley | fountain valley, ca United States | 03/13/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This review refers to "Greystoke - The Legend of Tarzan - Lord of the Apes" DVD(20th anniversary transfer/Warner Bros)...
Director Hugh Hudson has done a remarkable job remaking an old favorite and classic of the silver screen. It's a breathtaking look at the story of "Tarzan" as he is plucked from his home, where he has been raised by apes since his birth, and dropped into the "civilized" world to take his rightful place in society.
The first half of the story takes place in the jungles of Africa. The Earl Of Greystoke and his wife have been shipwrecked, and soon after the birth of their son, both tragically die. The infant is raised by the apes, taken by a mother ape who has lost her own baby. We watch as Tarzan grows up in the ape community, and as he becomes a man and knows no other langauge or way of life, rises within the group to become "Lord of the Apes". When an expedition of British and French men are attacked by natives, one man, Phillipe, is rescued by Tarzan and nursed back to health. Eventually, Phillipe discovers the true identity of this "white ape" and after months of teaching him the langauge and ways of the white man, brings him back to his family and his rightful place in society.
Tarzan, or John as he is now called, must try and fit in with this new civilazation, but he soon finds he is a man with no home. Even his new found love for Jane, cannot reconcile what he percieves to be the human way of doing things. He has made remarkable accomplishments in this society, but inside him, he aches deeply for the life he knew.
This film is an exquisite remake. Filmed in Cameroon, Scotland and England, it takes in the breathtaking beauty of the jungles of Africa, and the grandeur of the "Greystoke" estate. The performances by seasoned actors such as Sir Ralph Richardson(in his final film), and Ian Holm will draw you into their every word. The film also introduces us to two newcomers at the time, Andie MacDowell as Jane and Christopher Lambert as Tarzan. And after viewing this film, you will know why they both became the stars they are today. Lambert's performance of growing up in a family of Apes and then trying to adjust to society is extraordinary.
The music composed by John Scott and performed by The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra is as beautiful as this sweeping saga. A big part of the film of course, is the Apes, and the actors who were a part of those scenes were outstanding, as was the costuming and special effects.
The DVD is gorgeous. Presented in widescreen, it takes in all the brilliant cinematography, and vivid colors. The sounds of the jungle surround you in DD 5.1. There is commentary by Director Hudson, which may be viewed during the film. Subtitles are in Eng, Fr and Sp.
The film is rated PG, which I thought was about right. There is some violence(mostly in the jungle scenes)which may scare very young children. The one love scene bewteen Tarzan and Jane, is very mild and very short.
A wonderfully touching story of two worlds colliding. A brillant, adventurous, and romantic remake, not to be missed by fans of the old Tarzan films or of the Edgar Rice Burroughs's book, "Tarzan of the Apes".
also recommended for Andie MacDowell fans: Unstrung Heroes(see my review for film details)
Not Burroughs but as close as you are going to get!
Matthew Gore | Memphis, TN United States | 10/11/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I really liked this film but apparently I'm in the minority. I must admit that, in general, I like Tarzan movies. I also like the original novels by Edgar Rice Burroughs (actually, I like the Pellucidar books the best, but I digress). Anyway, the great problem with Tarzan films is that since the days of silent cinema and Elmo Lincoln, a faithful adaptation of the Burroughs character has not existed. So what? By the mid-1930s, Burroughs himself was incorporating elements from the films into the Tarzan novels. Greystoke is about as close to the spirit of the Burroughs character as we can seriously expect to get. Yes, it slips to the silly side when Tarzan gets to England. Again, so what? The movie is good fun!"
THE Tarzan Movie
Matthew Gore | 09/03/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"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!)"