FFlashback: Tarzan (1999)

Our retrospective comes to an end as two worlds collide in the final Disney Renaissance film, Tarzan…


The One Where: A human man raised by apes in the African jungle falls in love with an English woman who arrives to study the gorillas. But with a trigger-happy hunter around, can Tarzan bring the two worlds he is part of together?

Star Turns:  Tony Goldwyn is a good Tarzan, and it’s a welcome change to have a prominent kind mother in a Disney film in Glenn Close’s Kala. Plus, a shout out must be given to Brian Blessed’s villainous Clayton. Minnie Driver’s Jane steals the show, though, as another of the underrated heroines of this Disney era. She’s like a funnier version of Beast‘s Belle.

Best Song: You can tell that Disney got a bit bored with full-blooded musicals over the last couple of films, and for Tarzan they ditched the Broadway style completely and simply put songs on the soundtrack. Thankfully, the strength of Phil Collins’ score makes up for it. I suppose ‘Two Worlds’ is the best, but I like ‘Strangers Like Me’ and ‘Son of Man’, as well.

Verdict: I’m not sure you would say the Renaissance goes out with a bang, but it certainly delivers a very strong closer in Tarzan. The fight between nature and man recalls Pocahontas but the subject matter is deployed much better here, and the Tarzan/Jane romance is probably the best since Aladdin and Jasmine. Also, the realisation of the jungle is beautiful (assisted by some pioneering CGI). It’s a testament to the film’s strengths that it would be the last big animated hit for the studio until Disney revamped itself a few years later.

Hidden Potts: The Porters seem to have the same taste in crockery as the Beast, as Mrs Potts, Chip and her fellow teacups can be seen at their camp.  A stuffed toy of Mulan’s dog Little Brother also falls out of Professor Archimedes’ pocket at one point.



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