The Good

A very rich cartoon that tells a truly entertaining story.

The Bad

I would have really liked this DVD to have a bit more about the “making of” this movie.

Tarzan is one of those stories that it seems like we learn before we learn anything. It is one of those tales that is always with us and as we get older it eventually recedes in our memory but we don’t ever forget it. Edgar Rice Burroughs' superbly engaging story about a shipwrecked baby boy who is raised by a group of apes, is an allegory for getting older and leaving the proverbial nest. When Tarzan s into contact with Jane Porter, this symbolizes (for me anyway) the inevitability of getting older, growing up and having to make adult decisions. When Tarzan comes to realize that he is more like Jane than his ape family, that seems to say that we all must accept being adults and begin to take care of ourselves. While this movie ends up going in a different direction (Tarzan must sadly choose between the worlds), it’s overall theme is what resonates and makes this film a very engaging viewing experience.

Even though I had heard the tale of Tarzan since before I can remember, I had never actually sat down and watched the movie all the way through. As a result, it was only when Jane appeared that I realized how much our main character’s life was going to change. It is as abrupt as many of the jolting things in life usually are. I was unprepared for the change that was to come, and this alone accounts for making this movie one of my more heavy viewing experiences of recent memory.

Features

Alternate Endings and Deleted Scenes

I found the Alternate Endings and Deleted Scenes to be pretty much one in the same, which is why I decided to include them in the same section of this review. These were interesting to screen, simply because I think cutting any part of this movie must’ve been very hard for everybody who worked on it. I say this because Tarzan doesn’t look like many other movies. Everything about it seems so much more lush and rich than classic animation. This isn’t knocking that form, I think that stuff is pretty groundbreaking as well, but these Alternate Endings and Deleted Scenes are certainly worth checking out. Moreso than on some other DVDs I have reviewed.

Research Trip to Africa Discovering Tarzan

This Research Trip was done so that the artists could get a better sense of the look they wanted for this movie. They explored the jungles and generally seemed to take everything in. Then, they took what information they had gathered there and they translated it on to the screen for this movie. I don’t know what a trip like this costs, but it was certainly worth it. The best part is that this trip seems like a lot of fun, as well as being something educational.

 

Disneypedia Living in the Jungle

In Disney’s classic way this is little more than an encyclopedia view of the Jungle. However, I think for young kids this is really cool because I doubt they would look up this information on their own. Okay, that is a generalization. I am sure that some will, but at the end of the day like the Research Trip to Africa Discovering Tarzan, these featurettes serve dual purposes on this DVD.

Music Videos and Games

The Music Videos that come with this disc are by Phil Collins and ‘N Sync, as well as the band Everlife. In all honesty, I don’t really have much to say about these videos. The best that I can offer is that seeing ‘N Sync very much documented the time period in this country in which this movie was released. The Game that came with this DVD is Terk’s Tree Surfing Challenge. Your DVD’s remote is used to help Terk “surf” from tree to tree. If you have read any of my other reviews using these DVD games, then you know that I didn’t fare very well at this. I tried it and by the time I thought I was getting the hang of things the game was over.

Video

Anamorphic Widescreen - 1.66:1. This film looks really good. There is something about the animation that almost seems to leap off the screen, yet it doesn’t have the same type of animation that is employed in today's animated films. In fact, if you really think about it, animation is one of the few visual mediums that is really pushing itself to grow. If one were to judge the look of this film against something like The Incredibles, sure The Incredibles may look better, but that’s only because this version of Tarzan paved the way for the medium to move forward.

Audio

English Dolby Digital 5.1; English Dolby Digital 5.0 as well as French and Spanish Audio. To be very honest, there wasn’t much about this sound that stood out to me. It is very good and the audio sounds very much how we expect an animated movie to sound, yet there isn’t really anything about the sound that I thought enhanced the viewing experience any more than normal. Animated films by their very nature have a natural buoyancy to them. They are alive in ways that traditional films just aren’t. This is part of their charm and also explains how they can appeal to both children and adults.

Package

Tarzan takes over most of this cover as he zooms through the jungle. Around him are many of the other main characters from the movie, as well as the lush tree landscape brimming with hills and waterfalls. There is something so rich about the front cover renderings and the best part is that all this translates to the movie itself. The back cover gives us some more shots from this film, a Disneyesque description of the movie, a Special Features listing and some technical specs. While I know that this DVD release has created some problems for people on the internet (apparently Disney promised a lot more than they delivered), at the end of the day, from just a pure movie standpoint, this film really stands fine on it’s own.

Final Word

I seem to recall this film’s theatrical release, though as I mentioned above, watching this movie on DVD was my first full screening of it. Tarzan was different than I thought it would be, mainly because I didn’t expect this movie to be so grown up. I don’t know what I expected it to be exactly, but it wasn’t an allegory about life and getting older. I think we can maybe even point to this film as being the one that opened the gates for other animated fare like Shrek and The Incredibles. By this I mean, animated movies that while offering things up for kids, resonate with adults because their stories go a bit deeper.

Tarzan is the kind of film that after it’s over you know you have seen a very special movie.