GREYSTOKE: THE LEGEND OF TARZAN, LORD OF THE APES (PG)
D: Hugh Hudson
Warner Bros. (Hugh Hudson & Stanley S. Canter)
UK 🇬🇧 1984
W: Michael Austin & P.H. Vazak (Robert Towne) [based on the novel "Tarzan Of The Apes" by Edgar Rice Burroughs]
DP: John Alcott
Ed: Anne V. Coates
Mus: John Scott
PD: Stuart Craig
Makeup: Rick Baker
Christopher Lambert (John Clayton / Tarzan), Ralph Richardson (The Earl of Greystoke), Ian Holm (Capt. Philippe d'Arnot), Andie MacDowell (Jane Porter), James Fox (Lord Charles Esker), Ian Charleston (Jeffson Brown), Nigel Davenport (Maj. Jack Downing)
Following decades of comic book hokum, Edgar Rice Burrough's famous literary character gets some serious treatment with this noble, but meandering adaptation.
Following a shipwreck in the 19th century, a newborn child's mother dies and the baby is raised by apes as one of their own. Later found by explorers deep in the jungle, it is discovered that Tarzan is a lord of noble birthright and he is taken back to Victorian England, where he struggles to adapt to the society around him.
Visually, the film is stunning to look at, with picturesque cinematography and particular focus on extravagant sets and excellent ape prosthetics (courtesy of makeup wiz Rick Baker). The story itself does become a bit of a bore and could have been much worse considering the original cut was close to four hours, because of this, a lot of big name actors are relegated to bit parts.
One fun bit of trivia to note is that original screenwriter Robert Towne was unimpressed with changes made to his script and requested that he be credited under the name of his pet dog, P.H. Vazak. The dog was subsequently nominated for an Academy Award.
Ponderous and far too long, but it can be appreciated for its intentions of making a more realistic film from rather unfeasible source material.