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AMERICAN JOURNAL OF PHYSICAL ANTHROPOLOGY 87243-244 (1992)
AUDIO-VISUAL REVIEW
EDITORS ADDENDUM
The release of commercial films on videocassette now allows access to a n audio-visual
medium which formerly was too expensive
for rental or purchase by the average academic department. Commercial cassettes
present a potentially valuable resource for
the teaching of physical anthropology, and
for this reason, some of these releases will be
reviewed here in a n academic context. LNM
OF TARZAN.
Produced D’Arnot, and returns to civilization. When he
GREYSTOKE:
THELEGEND
by Warner Brothers Motion Pictures. Re- is recognized a s the true Lord Greystoke, he
leased a n video cassette by Warner’s Home embarks on a multiple existence as a n English lord, a major landowner in Africa, and a
Video, 1983. $19.98.
jungle predatory ape. In this complicated
The rearing of a human hero by wild ani- lifestyle, he has many acquaintances, but
mals is a theme in mythology which is a t few friends. In the whole corpus of Burleast 2,500 years old. An early example is the roughs’ novels, we meet stereotyped warlike
story of Romulus and Remus, who were suck- heros, usually with white or red skin, cowled by a wolf and founded Rome. I n this ardly villains (generally non-Anglo-Saxons),
century, the most famous such hero has been and beautiful women in need of del’lverance
Tarzan, the “ape-man,”who was the creation by their muscular and intrepid rescuers.
In the many African novels, Tarzan often
of Edgar Rice Burroughs (1875-1950).
Tarzan of the Apes appeared in 1914, fol- shows chivalrous and protective instincts,
lowed by 24 more Tarzan novels and most of which Burroughs attributes to his memberBurroughs’ other melodramatic novels, ship in the English aristocracy. Tarzan goes
which sold many millions of copies world- about rescuing women, foiling villains, and
wide. The story has been a natural candidate righting wrongs. As a n adult, he lives a s a
for motion pictures, and Greystoke: The Leg- jungle predator when civilization is too much
end of Tarzan is a n innovative addition to for him. His busy life includes excursions to
several lost civilizations, the killing of large
the genre of Tarzan films.
Burroughs was the son of a major in the predatory beasts in hand-to-hand combat,
U.S. Army and attained that rank himself in and other acts of robust and violent courage.
The technical difficulty of filming a heroic
World War I. He was a n Anglophile and snob
who believed in the hereditary virtue of aris- man among wild African animals has chaltocrats and in white supremacy. He looked a t lenged the ingenuity of many film makers,
imperialism a s the onward march of white and in many respects, Greystoke is the best of
civilization, but held a tender regard for the this whole tradition. Indeed, it contains
conservation of African animals. The fic- many subtle improvements of plot and chartional Africa of Burroughs contains some acter development over the crude melodraanimals which never lived there, such as matics of the original Burroughs narrative,
deer and panthers, and a species of hunting which in the past has been filmed without
ape, neither chimpanzee nor gorilla, which much refinement.
For one thing, Tarzan is now a tragic hero,
lived in groups of up to 100 animals.
Tarzan’s parents, Lord and Lady Grey- rather than the superhuman male who alstoke, were marooned in West Africa where ways wins in the end. In the original BurLord Greystoke built a cabin and Tarzan was roughs’ tale, the Frenchman D’Arnot is the
born. His parents died soon afterwards, and
he was found by a mother ape who had lost
Received for publication October. 4,1991
her infant. She adopted him, and he was
Address correspondence to Dr. Laura Newel1 Morris, Audioreared as a member of her ape tribe. As an Visual Review Editor, Department of Anthropology, DH-05, Uniadult, Tarzan encounters a Frenchman, versity of Washington, Seattle, Washington 98195.
@ 1992 WILEY-LISS, INC.
244
AUDIO-VISUALREVIEW
one who introduces Tarzan to civilization
and teaches him French and English. In
Greystoke, D’Arnot is also a social critic who
despises the English aristocratic way of life
and the British slaughter of wildlife. He, in
fact, is the catalyst for Tarzan’s own final
rejection of civilization.
Unlike the Burroughs’ mode, where
Tarzan moves competently from England to
Africa, in Greystoke he is a seriously maladjusted English lord who returns to the jungle, presumably for keeps, and even leaves
his beloved Jane in a final act of renunciation. In the end, then, Tarzan is not the victor
of a stereotyped melodrama, but the hero of a
tragedy. This new story line has a nobility
and complexity of character which Burroughs never achieved.
Some of the previous Tarzan films have
used immature chimpanzees. Greystoke uses
human actors in ape costumes as a result of
a n earlier unfortunate incident involving
live chimpanzees. The actor who played Silverbeard in the film visited a captive chimpanzee group in Oklahoma wearing a n ape
suit. He was attacked, and the tendon of one
finger destroyed. As a result, live apes were
used only in background shots in the film
(Fox 1984).
Greystoke used Roger Fouts a s a technical
advisor on ape vocalization and behavior. As
a result, authentic chimpanzee sounds are
on the sound track. These sounds are particularly effective when supposedly voiced by Tarzan in lamentation for his dead ape fostermother, and also later in England, when a n
ape which he has rescued is shot by the
police. Unfortunately, this latter death is
mourned by Tarzan a s his “father.”Since we
have little evidence that apes recognize paternity, this scene in my view is gratuitous.
It would have been more authentic to regard
the dead ape as Tarzan’s “friend,” particularly because alliances of male relatives are
so intimate in wild chimpanzees, as described by Jane Goodall (1990) for her group
at Gombe National Park, Tanzania.
It is possible to use this film in anthropological teaching, particularly in courses that
deal with primate behavior or man’s place in
nature. It is likely to stimulate the imagination of the students and lead them to see
where scientific evidence can inform the production of art.
EDWARD
E. HUNT,JR.
Department of Anthropology and
Program in Health Education
The Pennsylvania State University
University Park, Pennsylvania
LITERATURE CITED
Burroughs ER (1914) Tarzan of the Apes. New York:
Grosset and Dunlap.
Fox J (1984) Rick Baker-Maker of monsters, master of
the apes. Cinefex 16:P71.
Goodall J (1990) Through a Window: My Thirty Years
with the Chimpanzees of Gombe. Boston: Houghton
Mifflin.
NOTE ADDED IN PROOF
We were saddened to learn of the sudden
death of Edward Hunt on September 30,
1991. He had just completed this review. An
obituary will appear in a later issue of the
journal. LNM
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