Tarzan on Film Book Review

Tarzan on Film by  Scott Tracy Griffin is an essential coffee-table book for anyone who is a fan of the loin-clothed man of the apes. In this wonderfully illustrated book, Griffin gives comprehensive backgrounds and descriptions of every time Tarzan has appeared in popular media from the original Tarzan of the Apes to this year’s The Legend of Tarzan. With the new movie hitting the silver screen, the franchise has seen a resurgence in popularity from long time fans as well as new ones. With this book fans get an encyclopedia’s worth of information on every film rendition of Tarzan, and each movie is accompanied with various pictures of the production.

Griffin gives detailed descriptions of not only the movies listed in the book, but also gives background information on the many actors who played Tarzan and Jane in every film. On top of that he includes details about what went into the scores, cinematography, sound design, and set design of each film. To give an example from a film most readers will be familiar with, this excerpt from the book details the lengths that Disney went to to accurately capture the essence of the African jungles in the animated film Tarzain (1999):

“Eight members of the production team went on [an] African safari to observe gorillas in their natural habitat. To aid their ape animation, the artists attended primate lectures, watched nature documentaries, visited zoos, and viewed a gorilla dissection at a veterinary college. Unlike previous Disney films, there was no single designer; the individual animators were responsible for ensuring their designs meshed into the overall look of the picture, assisted by cleanup artists, responsible for checking that figures drawn by different animators had consistency between scenes and matched the models.”

That was a mere snippet of the many rich passages offered for each movie in this book. While the book offers comprehensive details about the production of each film, it is also full of fun facts that most people would not know. To bring to light another example from the Disney animated film, Tony Goldwyn, the voice actor for Tarzan, was the grandson of studio mogul Samuel Goldwyn. In the 1920s he was the one who originally re-titled The Return of Tarzan to The Revenge of Tarzan. Along with that neat bit of information is a small, wiki-sized biography of each actor who has ever played Tarzan or Jane for each respective film.

This book is a must-have for anyone who is a fan of Tarzan–it would make a great holiday gift for anyone who enjoys him. This begs the question, however: how many fans actually like Tarzan this much? As I was reading this I kept asking myself “Who is this book made for?” Perhaps this may be popular with older generations who might enjoy the franchise, but quite frankly I could not think of anyone who gave me the thought “This person would love this book.” That being said, every franchise deserves its own merchandise for the few diehard fans it may have, and those fans should definitely pick up this book.

Tarzan on Film is available on Amazon Prime for $26.46!


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Austin Widmyer

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