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Disney's Tarzan (Info, News, and Images)

Last Updated December 11, 1999

Disney's Tarzan is now out in theatres, and there's a ton of information on the net or in your local bookstore. As such, this site is not as informative as it may have been a year before Tarzan was released, but perhaps someone will still find it interesting. I originally put this page together after a trip to Disney/MGM tour in Florida, where I hung out and soaked up information about what was then still a work-in-progress.

DVD and Video Release on February 1, 2000 [12/11/99]

The DVD and Video release of Tarzan is set for February 1, 2000, with a special edition DVD to follow in April. The special edition for feature extra features such as commentary, interviews, "making of" material, and more. You can use the following links to pre-order online from Amazon.com:

  Tarzan VHS
  Tarzan DVD
  Tarzan DVD Special Edition

"Making Of" Book [8/13/99]

Any fan of animation will want to pick up a copy of The Tarzan Chronicles, for a behind-the-scenes look at the making of Disney's latest feature-length animated film. With an introduction by Phil Collins, this book is packed with quotes from the directors and animators. Written in diary form, these passages are often very revealing about the motives and thoughts of the folks at Disney Feature Animation during the making of the film. You'll also find the expected sketches and pre-production artwork.

Soundtrack [5/29/99]

The soundtrack has recently been released. If you haven't picked up a copy, I highly recommend you do so, even if you aren't a big Phil Collins fan. The score is quite good, although nothing remarkable; the interesting parts come in with the use of percussion instruments in the main songs. Unlike most recent Disney films, Tarzan's songs more closely resemble the style used in Lion King where the songs are song over the action; the characters themselves do not have a singing role.

You can buy a copy online at Amazon.com.

Almost Here [5/26/99]

The floodgates have opened, and as the movie draws near tons of good stuff is coming our way. There aren't too many mysteries about the film left: www.tarzan.com gives a good overview of the music, characters, and some detail about the process behind the "Deep Canvas" technique.

Two other must-sees are the behind the scenes footage (about 5 minutes each) in front of the Mulan and Bug's Life videos, which shows off some of the breathtaking backgrounds and a short interview with Glen Keane. Thankfully for animation fans, Disney is focusing a lot of attention on Mr. Keane's work in this film. The movement of the Tarzan character -- swinging through the trees, and the way he walks and uses his hands -- is incredible, and the line quality in the drawings that are out there really show off his abilities as an artist.

There is a second trailer as well, playing before some showings of Star Wars Episode 1, and also available from the Disney web site.

The Trailer [12/19/98]

The first trailer is here! I just got back from Prince of Egypt, and the Tarzan trailer played before it. I certainly wasn't expecting to see the trailer yet, so it was a great surprize. And it went by so quick it was hard to soak it all in!

The trailer is basically a string of many short (1-3 second) clips from throughout the movie, set to one of the Phil Collins songs. It's very fast-paced, with many shots of Tarzan swinging through the trees. Finally we get to see the "Deep Canvas" technology in action, and it is nothing short of incredible - a big step forward in getting the camera involved as the character moves, with a result that would be impossible to get with traditional multiplane.

The trailer has also just been released on Disney's Tarzan web site, which is currently just a one-page teaser for the film.

General Info [10/10/98]

Tarzan is set for a release date of June 18, 1999 and is being directed by Kevin Lina and Chris Buck. Supervising animators include the legendary Glen Keane doing Tarzan himself, Ken Duncan on Jane, plus Dave Burgess, Russ Edmonds, Mike Surrey, Bruce Smith, Sergio Pablos, Randy Haycock, and Dave Pruiksma.

Voices include Tony Goldwyn (Tarzan), Minnie Driver (Jane), Alex D. Linz (Young Tarzan), Nigel Hawthorne (Porter), Brian Blessed (Clayton), Rosie O'Donnel (Terk), Glen Close (Kala), Wayne Knight (Tantor), and Lance Hennricksan. The film will include songs by Phil Collins, with a score by Alan Silverstil and lyrics by David Zippel.

Story and Storyboards [10/2/98]

The overall story is of course taken from the classic Tarzan books by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Although I'm assuming Disney's version is only loosely based on the original novel, if any of you folks want to catch up on the original story you can buy the Tarzan books online from Amazon.com.

If you make it to the Disney studio in Florida, one of the first things you'll notice is the storyboards on several walls. In total I believe there were about 4 or 5 major pieces of one of the sequences on the boards, all of which revolved around what looks to be one of the key moments in the film: the song "Someone Like Me". These scenes show Tarzan curious about finding out more about people like him -- like Jane -- now that he knows he's not alone in he world. He stands in front of an old film projector and marvels at what he sees there, and he shows Jane the wonders of the jungle as they swing from vine to vine -- she's a little afraid at first, but then smiles and starts enjoying herself. Although there were some scenes missing from the boards, it was easy to get the general feel for the sequence, and a little sneak peek at the character development that takes place in the film.

Animation [10/2/98]

The master animator behind the star of the film is none other than Glen Keane, who is most famous for bringing to life Ariel, the Beast, Aladdin, and Pocahontas. It's quite possible that Glen also had a hand in some of the storyboards, as he did in Pocahontas, and some of what I saw certainly looked like it could be his. No doubt he played a role in the character development of Tarzan as well, although I haven't seen any real model sheets. After enjoying a vacation to France, Glen decided he could live there and moved out to be a part of the Paris division of Disney Feature Animation, which is taking on the bulk of the production of the film -- as the only really well known animator of the new bunch in Europe, I think it makes sense that he will play a big role in the development of their first film.

One of the hilites of my visit to the Disney Feature Animation studio tour in Florida was being able to watch one of the animators shoot some recently cleaned up animation for testing. Having nothing better to do, I stood around and watched as he tested the animation on the pencil test workstation, flipping back and forth through various frames to closely examine the movement. The portion of the scene was only about 3 seconds long, and involved the villain character (Clayton?) talking while holding a drink and in general looking somewhat sinister looking -- like he was plotting something or deceiving someone.

The fully rendered animation (colored characters and backgrounds) for Tarzan looks to continue the Disney Feature Animation tradition of quality. Although I've only seen about 10 seconds of finished animation, the backgrounds in particular are another step forward. A new CGI technology was developed for the film that cause the jungle backgrounds to have a certain depth to them. It's called "deep-canvas". Technically I'm not sure how they achieve it, but it's not a traditional hand-painted multiplane, simple 3D modeled CGI effect, nor even the "fo-plane" effect created for Mulan. It will be interesting to see how this new technique blends with the film as more footage from Tarzan becomes available.

Images and Movie Clips

There isn't much artwork available to the public yet, but there is some stuff floating around the net. I've snagged the best of what I've seen and linked it below.

Still Images

Tarzan Model Sheet (hands) - Model sheet of Adult Tarzan's hands and feet. (These model sheets were from an Ain't It Cool News article.) [10/13/98].

Tarzan Model Sheet (swinging) - Model sheet of Tarzan in different poses swinging on vines. [10/13/98].

Tarzan Model Sheet (misc) - Model sheet of Tarzan in misc poses (crawling, jumping). [10/13/98].

Tarzan Color Postar - Beautiful shot of Tarzan against lush jungle backgrounds. (More sizes are available from the original Ain't It Cool News article.) [10/6/98]

Tarzan and Jane - Still from rough animation of Tarzan and Jane.

Tarzan Climbing - Sketch of Tarzan climbing through the trees.

Tarzan on Tree with Vine - Tarzan on a tree branch holding himself up by a vine.

Jane Model Sheet - Part of a model sheet for Jane.

Movie Clips

The Trailer - The first theatrical trailer, released on the Disney web site. This trailer is also currently showing at the beginning of Prince of Egypt, if you want to catch it on the big screen, or can't afford the 6MB download. [12/19/98]

Rosie's Ape - Very short clip recently shown on Rosie's talk show.

Quotes and Reactions

A recent post to the rec.arts.disney.animation newsgroup provided some interesting info about songs [10/4/98]:

Phil Collins does indeed sing 4 or 5 songs in the film. Rosie does sing, sort of... The song is where apes invade the humans camp and has more of a STOMP flare to it, she and the other apes kind of harmonize, but no actual lyrics are sung.

A reader of Henry Knowls site wrote in about a three minute "work-in-progress" clip of Tarzan with some of the Phil Collins music [10/2/98]:

My thoughts - firstly, when I first heard that Phil Collins was doing the music, I had horrible nightmares of elephants dancing to Sussudio. But my fears were wrong - Collins is a drummer by trade, and his use of drums in the song used for the Tarzan clip were AWESOME. The song wasn't too bad either. The animation looks great - and the clip has this MINOR SPOILER. There's a scene of a baby Tarzan putting his hands up to an ape's hands. The ape puts it's hands up, too, but the baby Tarzan seems bothered that his hands are so different than the ape's hands. Later, after he rescues Jane (great sequence), he puts his hands up to her's and she puts her hands up. There's this great emotion that comes across when he realizes that he's found one of his own kind - even with no words, it really jumped off the screen. You could hear some gasps from people sitting around me.

There's a Tarzan fan site in spanish which looks to contain a lot of good information. Unfortunately I can only understand a very little spanish, but I've attempted to translate some of it and am quoting an interesting part below [10/2/98]:

In another very good scene we see a leopard approaching Tarzan, and he prepares to fight with it. Then comes Tantar the elephant and Terk, a monkey of the tribe who has a very complete caricature; I remembered this personality -- a little like Gurgi from The Black Cauldron, mainly because he has very long arms, but in general he is totally different.

Other Tarzan Sites

There are number of good sources for Tarzan info on the net, and some of them are accessible through the Tarzan Web Ring, of which this site is a member. The following links allow you to move between sites on the ring:

Go to a Random Site! | Go to the Next Site | List All Sites | Join the Ring

Pictures © Disney