tarzanIn the 19th century, a British couple is shipwrecked off the coast of Africa; when they’re subsequently killed by a leopard, their infant son is raised by gorillas. Edgar Rice Burrough’s story became the basis for one of the last box-office hits that Disney had during its great 1990s renaissance. Not terribly original stuff, but closer in style to The Lion King than The Jungle Book, with dark themes and Phil Collins’s songs serving as an emotional undercurrent. Apes and elephants provide humorous support, but Tarzan and Jane themselves also get chances to be more than just wooden lead characters. Very entertaining; exhilaratingly animated chases in the jungle.

1999-U.S. Animated. 88 min. Color. Produced by Bonnie Arnold. Directed by Chris Buck, Kevin Lima. Screenplay: Tab Murphy, Bob Tzudiker, Noni White. Songs: Phil Collins (“You’ll Be in My Heart”, “Strangers Like Me”). Voices of Tony Goldwyn (Tarzan), Minnie Driver (Jane), Glenn Close (Kala), Rosie O’Donnell, Brian Blessed, Nigel Hawthorne… Lance Henriksen.

Trivia: Later a Broadway musical. Followed by a direct-to-DVD sequel, Tarzan II (2005), and a TV series, The Legend of Tarzan (2001-2003).

Oscar: Best Original Song (“You’ll Be in My Heart”). Golden Globe: Best Original Song (“You’ll Be in My Heart”).

Last word: “It was definitely a challenge. (For instance), Tarzan moving through the branches. I’d animated this scene and it didn’t feel like Tarzan doing it. It felt like a human, like me hanging on vines and branches. So I studied the gibbon and realized they never look at the branches when they grab them. They look past. They look where they’re going. And then we changed Tarzan so instead of looking at the vines and branches, he just moved right on through confidently, and it felt like Tarzan again. The instinct of an animal had to be there.” (Lead animator Glen Keane, Spliced Wire)

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