The Legend of Tarzan, based on stories by Edgar Rice Burroughs
One could think of a few quotes when watching this motion picture that was not appreciated very much by critics and audiences:
Hell is paved with good intentions and/or
There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so – Hamlet
The Legend of Tarzan has indeed some good intentions and there are worthwhile elements, such as the return of man into nature, the power that humanity has to tame the forces of the wild – with its less glorious consequences, Climate Change among others.
There is the stigma, the dishonor of the ruthless, greedy, inhuman, monstrous king Leopold of Belgium, with his determination to exploit all the riches of the Congo, regardless of the price in human lives.
In this sense, when the forces of justice attack and kill representatives of this vicious, devilish ruler – including and especially Leon Rom aka Christoph Waltz, excellent as always in a negative role.
Children in our land used to be exhilarated by the Legend of Tarzan, so much so that they all repeated the mantra of
- Tarzan, Jane
And the associated kicks in the chest, referring to the moment when Tarzan, the son of the forest, raised by the gorillas of the jungle, meets another human being and he learns to talk- well, human communication, for he had learned to relate with his comrades using sign and other language.
Tarzan is the ultimate hero, the role model, Super Man, Ubermensch even if without the sophistication of one educated by humans, he is strong, kind, brave, skilled, determined, perseverant, humane – perhaps paradoxically, he is gentler and kinder than the messengers of Leopold of Belgium.
Furthermore, he also represents The Age of Innocence – not by Edith Wharton – when humans were not perverted by material things and the devastating, burning desire for wealth, gold, which makes some of the characters in the motion picture kill multitudes without remorse.
We can think of this Legend of Tarzan as a condemnation of consumerism, indeed studies show that we experience a phenomenon called Hedonic Adaptation and it can be useless to acquire material things.
Take the example of Bhutan, a country more interested in measuring spiritual wellbeing, the Happiness level more than the GDP numbers, which is the last country to introduce television and advertising in 1999.
This has brought in the desire for useless things, consumerism and a drop in the levels of happiness, making one think of the Dalai Lama and his humorous, insightful, wise, deep statement made when he entered a department store:
“Wow, so many things I do not need!”
Seen from this perspective, the film may send you thinking of “there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so”, a message that can provoke appreciation of the good parts in The Legend of Tarzan.
The beautiful jungle, the special effects and the apes they have created – well, perhaps not so exquisite – the efforts of the good Alexander Skarsgard as Tarzan, the talented, exceptional Margot Robbie – recently nominated for an Academy Award that she deserved as much as Frances McDormand, for her superb performance in I, Tonya.
However, The Legend of Tarzan is not…legendary, it is a rather forgettable experience, in spite of the powerful original material, better adapted in earlier versions of Tarzan