John Derek's Tarzan The Ape Man

859 words - 3 pages

John Derek's Tarzan the Ape Man

For the last one hundred years, Tarzan has graced movie screens all around the world. Edgar Rice Burroughs’ creation has caught the eye of entertainment in a major way. While movies of Tarzan have come and gone, a unique 1981 version of Tarzan the Ape Man stuck out. This controversial film uses the book from Jane Porter’s (Bo Derek, who is also the producer) point of view. It is a sexy film, where fantasies are fulfilled and dreams come true. The motion picture primarily focuses on Jane’s take of her relationship with Tarzan (Miles O’Keeffe). This modern version of Burroughs’ Tarzan of the Apes has a distinctively romantic theme throughout.

Jane Porter’s role as damsel in distress is shown through her first interaction with Tarzan. A quick dip in the water turns into a battle with an enormous boa constrictor. Fulfilling his role as heroic savage, Tarzan swings into the water from the treetops and wrestles the snake off of Jane. Interesting enough, he does so without his infamous knife. The knife was a symbol of his civilization in Burroughs’ book. Derek takes away this civilization in order to create the perfect primitive savage. A person, particularly a woman, would not see a man thrashing at an animal with blood flying everywhere, as an attractive scene. Since this film is a woman’s fantasy, Derek leaves out the knife for it is an impurity to Tarzan’s appealing role. At the conclusion of the fight with the snake, Tarzan carries Jane into the jungle to safety where Tarzan himself passes out. The first sign of Jane’s infatuation with Tarzan is revealed as she comforts him. While Tarzan is unconscious, Jane strokes his body, everywhere. She makes it known to an ape sitting next to her that, “I have never touched a man before.” Her imagination wonders into a fanciful world while she is touching Tarzan. Jane’s face is full of sensual expression as her infatuation for Tarzan is born. After Tarzan awakens and runs off, Jane becomes the aggressor in the relationship as she chases after him. In Burroughs’ novel, Jane plays a more passive role, while Tarzan is the aggressor. Derek switches the role in order to give the woman more control in the relationship. This...

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