Where Disney Went Wrong: Tarzan
I Love Disney
Before I begin, let me make note that I am a huge Disney fan. I love pretty much anything Disney does, and I have been a fan practically since birth. However, there are some movies they have made that are nothing like the books they are based on.
In most cases, that’s a very good thing because Disney had managed to successfully kid-ify books that they would not have been able to understand and omitting the sick and nasty parts, or just changing the absolutely depressing endings.
For this particular article, I will be naming off nearly all the things that Disney left out or slightly changed in from Edgar Rice Burroughs classic, Tarzan of the Apes. I will try and keep the events in chronological order, and I will elaborate on each point. I also should also note that I have actually read the book and took notes along with it, so feel free to read the book yourself and see that I covered as much as I could and was accurate.
THERE ARE SPOILERS OF THE BOOK IN THIS ARTICLE!
If you are planning to read the book, I highly suggest, not reading this because there are several things that I give away in the points.
1. The ship did not sink, Tarzan’s parents were stranded.
Yes, the ship did sink into the ocean, it was taken over by a mutinous crew who then left the recently married couple on a part of Africa to die there. Well, at least the new captain was nice enough to leave them some things. I suppose that made him feel better.
2. Tarzan wasn’t born yet.
Tarzan’s young mother gave birth to Tarzan in the little cabin that his father makes to shelter them from animals (this is maybe why Disney made the tree house way up high and isolated), and she goes crazy (probably from post partum depression), thinking that they are still in English and she keeps asking why the house looks so strange. She eventually passes peacefully lying on a bed.
3. Sabor was a lioness, not a leopard
A note: I was confused while reading the book that though Tarzan killed Sabor, the name Sabor popped up again in reference to a living lioness. Turns out that all lionesses were named Sabor. They didn’t have individual names.
4. Kala’s baby wasn’t killed by Sabor
Kala’s baby fell off of her back from a very high height, and died that way, not from being food for Sabor. Kala was up high in order to get away from Kerchak, who was in a violent fit of rage. Kala continued to carry her dead child in her arms as the gorilla family traveled, refusing to give him up.
5. Kerchak wasn’t Kala’s mate
Kala was the mate of another male gorilla named Tublat, who was very violent.
6. Kerchak kills Tarzan’s father
Kerchak wants the mysterious weapon John Greystroke (Tarzan’s father) has, so he goes into the cabin and kills him for it.
7. Kala swaps her child for Tarzan
Kala takes Tarzan from his crib and puts her dead child into it, then runs away to make sure Kerchak doesn’t kill him too.
8. Tarzan tries to use a noose to hang Kerchak several times
As a child-like game, Tarzan would try to throw a noose over Kerchak’s neck to purposefully kill him. This is one reason why Kerchak hates Tarzan, and Tarzan never does try to be on good terms with him.
9. Kala is killed
Kala is killed by an African hunter, and Tarzan later takes revenge on kills him too, using the noose.
10. Tantor isn’t Tarzan’s friend
Tantor is mentioned in the book (another generic name of elephant), but the gorillas are afraid of elephants because there are stronger and they try and stay away from them. However, Tarzan and Tantor get along okay.
11. Tarzan separates from the gorillas, never to return
Tarzan never goes back to the gorillas, and this is about midway through the book. He had become leader at that point, but he then left the leadership to someone else.
12. Jane, Clayton, and Mr. Porter are stranded too
Their ship was also the victim of a mutinous crew, and they left these people alone on the island. (Sound familiar?)
13. Jane is a blonde American
Yes, she’s not an English brunette like Disney made me believe.
14. They were searching for gold, not gorillas
Jane had tagged along with her dad, who came in possession of a map, to try and find gold.
15. Clayton is in love with Jane
I was grossed out at this part because of how he was in the movie, and how much younger she was. But then again, that was probably common back then. Still, ugh.
16. Clayton is Tarzan’s cousin
Yep, Clayton and Tarzan are both Lord Greystrokes. And they don’t know it.
17. Jane and Tarzan’s first encounter
Tarzan saves the damsel in distress, but not from baboons. From a gorilla that was in Tarzan’s group. This gorilla, named Terkoz, hated Tarzan, and when he saw Jane, it noticed that she was a hairless ape like Tarzan. Terkoz snatched up Jane and ran off with her to be his mate, revenge against Tarzan. Tarzan does save her.
18. Tarzan doesn’t learn English until near the end
Tarzan was able to write in English, though he was not able to speak it. And technically, the first language that he learned was French from a character that was omitted in Disney’s version of the movie.
19. The humans never meet the gorillas
Clayton, Jane, and Mr. Porter never see the gorillas because they weren’t even looking for them.
20. Tarzan chases Jane to America
The humans leave without Tarzan (though they do wait for him), and he goes to try and win Jane in America, where she is about to get married to someone else that she doesn’t want to get married to.
21. Tarzan and Jane don’t end up together
Jane ends up choosing Clayton over Tarzan because she starts to realize that she is afraid of Tarzan since he threatened to kill the guy she was about to marry, and because she thought he was unpredictable. She thought Clayton could give her a place in society, and she would learn to love him.
Despite the Fact...
Dsepite the fact that Disney might as well have made their own story with some borrowed characters, this is one of my favorite Disney movies as a child. Still is.
I love it, and how though it isn't a musical, it still has awesome music with Phil Collins and is a good movie in it's own right. Thanks for reading, and have fun watching the movie with what I've just told you.
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