We’ve seen many different versions of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan story since it was written back in 1914 and when we first heard that another was on the way, we wondered if it was actually needed. After seeing the footage this morning presented by Director David Yates, we’re starting to think now is very much the time.
Yates and Producing partner David Barron are best known for their work on the Harry Potter movies (Yates directed the final four films in the franchise and primed and ready to bring Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them to the big screen this Christmas). In between Potter projects, they somehow found the time and space to bring the Tarzan story to the big screen in what they insist is a version unlike we’ve ever seen.
Both the Davids joined lead actors Alexander Skarsgård and Margot Robbie in a Q&A this morning in London to show a room full of press 20 minutes of footage and to answer the questions we had.
We were shown around 7 scenes, some were epic and a couple much more small in scale so they could focus on the characters. The story (from what we saw) involves Tarzan and Jane getting married, returning back to the jungle (for what reason is unclear). While they are there, Christoph Waltz (Captain Rom) arrives in Gabon to capture many of the indigenous people introducing the slave trade to a movie that seems to be hitting issues like this head on. At least one of the acts is taken up by Waltz character kidnapping Robbie with Tarzan in hot pursuit with his side-kick / light relief Samuel L. Jackson hot on his heels.
One of the scenes features a wonderful back and forth with Robbie and Waltz characters after she’s been kidnapped with Waltz doing what he does best in those brilliantly acted evil roles. The sweeping landscapes that we saw make it hard to believe that all the scenes involving actors were shot on the back lot of Leavesden Studios in sunny Watford near London.
In another scene we see a very ripped Alexander Skarsgård going head to head with the alpha male gorilla in what looks like it would be a one-way fight. The CG looks exceptional and again it’s no surprise that the team behind movies like Harry Potter would go to such lengths to make their movie as good as it can be using state of the art technology combined with a great script (from Adam Cozad who worked previously on Jack Ryan).
Robbie talks about how she was hooked from the get-go:
“I got the script Tarzan and immediately I saw it I thought ‘I don’t want to do Tarzan because I thought I knew it.'”
“It surprised me … I fell in love with it…. It felt romantic, epic….. It had some very old fashioned sensibilities but also it had themes which felt very connected to now and very present to now. In terms of how we find our environment, what we’re doing to the animal species around the planet and it made me smile with a lot of humour in it. I just couldn’t resist it.”
Margot Robbie says of her ‘Jane’ that she’s ‘fiercely independent, emotionally strong’ as opposed to Tarzan’s physical strength which is what draws them together.
‘I was so taken by the grand scale of it and even on the page it felt so epic! Everything about it was so rich and big!’
Alexander gives us a bit more info into what we can expect from the movie:
“We open the movie not in the jungle but with John and Jane in London and they’ve been there for almost a decade. In a way it’s his arc or journey is the opposite of the origin of the story or the novel or the most of old movies which is about taming the beast. This is a man that has already perfected that. He’s civilised himself or acclimated his life in Victorian London but he has a home and he feels obligated to be there.”
“Instead of taming the beast it’s about keeping the beast within and then slowly it comes out which I think is a metaphor we can all relate to”.
The Q&A ended with Yates saying that ‘we’d love to take you to this place again’ and Producer David Barron confirming ‘we have an outline’ for a second movie so they are obviously excited for how this movies does and that they may well be able to tackle this world again.
If you’re a fan of the Tarzan story, we really think this will be one you’ll be excited to see and is a different take on the Edgar Rice Burroughs tale that we all know and love.
The Legend of Tarzan is in cinemas July 8th.