Primary Creator
Director Hugh Hudson
Actor Ralph Richardson
Actor Ian Holm
Actor Christopher Lambert
Actor Andie MacDowell
Duration143 minutes
Name of WorkGreystoke
Production Date1984
Production Location

Current Location

Media Typesfilm
General Notes


A significant reworking of the original story. But basics are still there -- British couple are stranded on West African coast because of a shipwreck and sire a baby boy while trying to survive in the jungle. The baby is adopted by an female ape who has just lost her ape baby. He grows up among the apes. A British expedition, which is destroyed by pygmy natives, has one survivor who then finds Tarzan (the boy-ape), and brings him back to civilization while teaching him language and other aspects of human culture. Along the way his mother (i.e., his ape mother) is killed by the pygmies. (P.S., He is never called Tarzan in the movie.) He is the heir to the Earldom in England and returns to meet his grandfather. But he loses his grandfather, and then goes on to an even greater loss as the movie progresses. He enventually decides he cannot stay in civilization but must return to his "roots". He returns to the jungle.


Loss, Loss, Loss. Man as metaphysically alien from human culture.

Emotional Sum or Sense-of-life

Life is Loss -- life is grim and culture is grim and the jungle is grim. All is grim.

The other important feature of the film emotionally is that Tarzan has been crippled by his circumstances of being brought up in the jungle -- he cannot live as a man, so the great tragedy of the story is that he has to return to the jungle, which is below primitive -- it is an isolated hell in which death is at every corner, and at best the companionship of apes. Given that the story partly portrays civilized men as brutes who relish killing animals, perhaps the emotional intent is to make the choice to return to the jungle as positive, but for this reviewer it is unutterably tragic and ugly.