Posted on Tuesday, June 14th, 2016 by Germain Lussier
After four straight Harry Potter movies, you’d think David Yates would be done with sequels. With The Legend of Tarzan, he gets the best of both worlds. The latest film about everyone’s favorite vine-swinging, loincloth-wearing jungle man is being presented as the start of a new franchise. However, the story itself is also something of a sequel to nearly ever other Tarzan movie ever. Basically, it’s an homage to the character’s entire history without copying any one story in particular.
The film opens with Tarzan (played by True Blood’s Alexander Skarsgård) living in period London. He’s a lord with a huge house, married to his lovely jungle princess Jane (The Wolf of Wall Street’s Margot Robbie). And while things may seem good on the surface, both halves of the couple yearns to go back to their roots, where they met, in the jungles of the Congo. And they do. But when an evil tyrant named Captain Rom (Christoph Waltz) teams up with an evil tribe (led by Djimon Hounsou) to kidnap Jane in order to enact revenge on Tarzan, it begins a massive adventure on a summer blockbuster scale.
Way back in September 2014, we flew to London where we visited Leavesden Studios to visit the set of The Legend of Tarzan. There we walked through incredibly massive sets, watched some brutal fighting and learned how this film would ideally satisfy fans who know and love the iconic character, as well as bring in new ones.
It’s day 56 of 70 on the set of The Legend of Tarzan and you can read all about it below.
First question: What about the loincloth? It’s Tarzan’s signature item and, in a movie this different from its predecessors, you had to wonder if it was going to be there. On a set visit you generally drop by all the departments to see the incredible amount of detail and care that goes into a production this size, and one of the first stops was with Emmy-award winning costume designer Ruth Myers.
She explained that because Tarzan starts this movie as a normal London man and only later becomes the brute who was raised in the jungle by gorillas, the outfits start out very stuck up and tight. Then, over the course of the movie, they get more and more tattered. So the loincloth, as it were, is basically just trousers ripped to shreds, a very realistic approach. (Myers was mum on whether the film may eventually graduate to an actual loincloth.) That believable spin on an iconic beat is what The Legend of Tarzan is all about. The character has no big Clark Kent moment. He’s taking the ride, just like the audience. As Skarsgård puts it, the film is kind of Tarzan’s descent into madness.
We saw a bit of that madness during shooting. The scene we witnessed takes place on a train early in Tarzan’s return trip to Africa. Jane has been kidnapped. Tarzan has begun to learn about Captain Rom’s plan and he’s teamed up with a mystery man named George Washington Williams, played by Samuel L. Jackson.
After swinging onto the train (a shot which we didn’t see), Tarzan makes his way through a slew of Belgium soldiers. His fighting style is more WWE than martial arts, as he literally heaves men left, right, down, and, in the most impressive bit, up. After dispatching several of the soldiers in a single shot, they shoot a stunt where Tarzan manhandles a solider through the ceiling. This is accomplished by a huge pulley system, worked by two men on the other side of the stage pulling down really hard just as Tarzan throws the soldier.