Djimon Hounsou as Chief Mbonga

Legend of Tarzan: Swinging Through Colonial History

ERBDOM, Legend of Tarzan (Movie)

by Cindy Beringer via

THE LEGEND of Tarzan is not your grandparents’ jungle movie, and not just because of the computer-generated animals and the IMAX film format.

I checked out this movie to relive Saturday matinees where a quarter got a ticket and popcorn while Johnny Weissmuller swung through the jungle as Tarzan. But it was the possibility of a serious depiction of–as Joseph Conrad wrote–the horror!, the horror! of the colonization of the Congo which really drew me in.

Tarzan still swings through the jungle in this film. His faithful chimp Cheetah is gone, the loincloth has been replaced by low-slung britches, and the “Me Tarzan, you Jane” dialogue was left in the past.

Every Tarzan fan is aware that Tarzan’s parents were British aristocrats whose many-versioned deaths left Tarzan to be raised by apes in a far superior manner than what would have taken place in England as a child of privilege.

Tarzan appears in this film for the first time as Lord John Clayton III, Earl of Greystoke, a member of the House of Lords in late 19th century Britain, and a legend much reduced. He and Jane have married and live in an imposing manor house with all the trappings.Warning: More spoilers ahead.

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    • Hmmmm…..thanks for the heads up. This time the link is good but something has gone haywire at As of right now, even trying to get on their site at all produces that same message. I say we let it rest for an hour and see if it comes back. But the link is good — I confirmed that. Something on their end.

  • So, now LOT was not supposed to be about Tarzan at all but about George Washington Williams, who could ” easily replace Tarzan” in this movie. Since,I guess, this movie was really supposed to be about the exploitation of Africa during colonial times and about a black savior,who although he died a year after his open letter was published, and that letter did not make a dent in the continued crimes of Leopold, he at least was a decendant of Africans and he tried. What??? Once again someone uses this movie and it’s very existence to proselytize about the on going exploitation of Africa and it’s lack of saviors.

    LOT uses the backdrop of Belgian colonialism and characters such as Rom and Williams to lend elements of realism into its story about Tarzan, a fictional pulp super hero. It does not pretend to be about social ills nor does it establish itself as a platform for those ills. Those ills existed and exist today,all over the world not just in Africa and not just against Africans. What does this writer think the whole jihadist Moslem terrorism movement is all about? Religion? Religion is just the binding agent for a movement which is at root about power and control. Power and control of what? Wealth of course. Oil wealth and who gets it and who controls it. ( I realize this is a gross over simplification but the point stands) That’s just the latest in a long line of exploitation, inhumanity and slaughter that fuels the dynamics of global struggles and conflicts that have been going on across our planet since mankind crawled out of its caves and decided to expand.

    Tarzan is entertainment,escapism and in away he represents a hope and a prayer that for mankind there has to be a better way, a nobler and more honest way of co-existing with each other, the creatures around us and the natural environment that surrounds us. Tarzan is a dream, a fantasy and people need their dreams and fantasy heroes to lift them above and out of the mire of human degradation based on the exploitation of others,of animals and of the planet.

    So what if he is white? He is white because ERB made him white. Maybe someone, like this author of this article for example,should write a novel about an African savior, arising out of the dung heap of colonial enslavement and becomming a vigilante ,a super hero champion of the people,animals, resources and well being of Africa. He should be a fantasy hero and reflect the hopes and dreams of the African people and all people. It can become a best seller and a whole series founded with movie rights and all. Instead ,it seems it’s easier to demand that someone else do the writing ,someone else do the movies that extol the virtues of a hero that doesn’t yet exist,L I for one would welcome such a hero and such a voice, I would read the novels and see the movies.

    Until then ,we have the superheroes of the past based on writers of the past to kero or hopes alive and to tarnish them by attempting to degrade and demean them because they are not the heroes of social justice that the critic wants is tantamount to a toddler demanding spinach instead of the chocolate cookie( virtually unheard of,I know) he has been given. You want spinach? Go get spinach abd leave the chocolate chip cookie to those of us who enjoy them.

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