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Why you MUST watch 1999's Tarzan

May 01, 2014 11:12 IST

The Tarzan (1999) posterDon't waste your money on the latest Tarzan. Watch the old film instead.

Good movies remain in the audience's mind for a long time. Great ones go a step further and spawn their own series.

Tarzan (1999) belongs to the second category, and it would have stayed that way had the remake, carrying the same title, not left a bitter aftertaste.

Although the children of the 1990s will always remember Disney's Tarzan whenever the words white and ape are spoken together, today's kids might not be as lucky. 

If you are a parent who has convinced themselves that their ward throwing utensils and furniture at his/her sibling qualifies as children disciplining each other, and if you want to keep them distracted for just that one, sweet, glorious hour of peace, don’t waste your money on a film ticket.

Just pop in the DVD.

Here's why:

1. A family film

Quoting from another Disney feature Lilo and Stitch, 'Family means no one gets left behind' and Tarzan (1999) was a family film.

Children could watch it, adults could watch it and children disguised as adults could watch it too.

However, Tarzan (2014) is not the same.

The first film had several layers to it and the older you get, the more you understand every time you watch it.

The new film, on the other hand, is for boy-crazed tweens, who think that Aashiqui 2 is 'like totally epic' and Edward Cullen is the epitome romance heroes.

In fact, it's just an animated George of the Jungle that takes itself little too seriously.

2. A great love story

Among all the things that Tarzan was, it was also a sweet story of love between two people from completely different worlds who find much in common with each other despite the fact that they can probably never be together.

The new film is a love story too.

It begins with jungle boy being enamoured by his blonde lady-love and ends with Jane being welcomed into the gorilla family.

Somewhere in the middle, you hear Jane describe Tarzan to her father by saying that he had 'long arms, massive shoulders' and 'clear green eyes'.

Swoon.

Not.

The Tarzan and Jane of 2014 have almost nothing in common, except intense (stupidity and) physical attraction, and parents who were friends before they were separated by death. Why they choose to stick together and risk their lives for each other is beyond me.

I guess love is just illogical.

Then again, so is this.

The Tarzan (2014) poster3. Jane: A woman of substance

Tarzan would never truly be Tarzan if it weren’t for Jane -- and vice versa.

However, when Jane chooses not to be herself but a mere extension of Tarzan, the whole plot falls apart.

The original Jane Porter was a woman of substance. She had a genuine interest in studying gorillas and not just in hugging trees and prancing around the woods. Jane did not ‘visit’ her father in the jungles of Africa; she researched alongside him. The original Jane wanted to protect gorillas. Not be protected by one of their family.

However, the one from 2014's Tarzan is more interested in being a damsel in distress than in contributing anything worthwhile to the conversation -- if she and 21st century Tarzan ever had the time to actually talk instead of looking at each other and sighing, that is.

Jane Porter was meant to be an adventurer, who was curious and hungry, and passionate about saving primates from human cruelty. But all that the new film makes her out to be is weak, wide-eyed and with knees so giddy that a school girl would be embarrassed.

4. A complete package

The first Tarzan was a complete package -- from the animate to the music, it had it all.

The new one? Not so much.

Although the new version did manage to conjure some magnificent background imagery, the figures of their characters were just wrong.

The gorillas looked like aliens with gleaming red/orange eyes. The humans seemed like hollow bodies that stemmed from hasty sketching on basic stick figures.

Tarzan (1999) was done with finesse. The production team actually developed their own 3D painting technique to be able to make their vision a reality. Furthermore, the 1999 version delivered evergreen hits, coming from the genius of Phil Collins, such as Two Worlds and You’ll Be In My Heart.

5. Animated adventure

Tarzan (1999) was an 'animated adventure' film.

Tarzan (2014) is pure tamasha and only Indians can understand why. It's one of those rare Bollywood movies whose script strayed into the Western Hemisphere by mistake.

Here, Tarzan and Jane are more filmi than Raj and Simran.

There is much sighing, much watching-from-a-distance, and then some real-life distance, but both wait for each other despite being saat samundar paar.

There is actually a scene where Jane drives away in a jeep (and thankfully not a train heading to Bhatinda) without knowing Tarzan’s feelings for her and her scarf flies away in the wind and lands in Tarzan’s hands. You almost expect him to start singing 'Laal dupatta ud gaya re bairi hawa ke jhonke se' as he holds it ever so lovingly.

In another scene, when Jane and her father are held against their will by Clayton, with their limbs tied together, Jane warns him that Tarzan will come for her with so much conviction that she could have easily said “Mere Karan-Arjun aayengey.”

By the end of if, you have had so much of it that when Jane tells Tarzan that she loves him and always will, you will automatically find your palm hitting your forehead.

You can’t help but wish that the Punjabi mummy from 2 States, which is playing in the next auditorium, would jump onto the screen and caution the kids against each other based on cultural differences.

Paloma Sharma/ Rediff.com in Mumbai