The celluloid adventures of Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan range from Disney animation to Miles O'Keeffe's frolicking with a naked Bo Derek in the jungle. Perhaps the most iconic is Johnny Weissmuller's portrayal in 12 adventure films from the '30s and '40s. What else is Hollywood to do with such a popular character but reboot it? Having written the script, Stuart Beattie described his new vision of the Lord of the Apes.
"It's not your traditional Tarzan," Beattie said in an exclusive phone interview on Wednesday while promoting G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. "It's your Pirates of the Caribbean kind of Tarzan. It's fun. It's how a Tarzan movie should be. It's just, because Tarzan's been done so many times, you can't just do the standard retelling of Tarzan again, because everyone knows that story. If you're going to do Tarzan, you've got to do it different than it's ever been done."
Well, we've certainly never seen Tarzan fly before. Speak broken English with a French accent, yes (a la Christopher Lambert in 1984's Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes). Fly, no.
"[It's going to be] more mythological and supernatural, mythic Africa, where the trees are two or three times the size of trees," Beattie said. "It's that deep, deep, deep, dark, heart-of-Africa jungle that no one's ever been [to], 1930s, period, all that kind of stuff, and really bring that world up into that kind of mythic status, where Tarzan can fly around on all these trees and do amazing acrobatics. I just had a lot of fun with it."
Original Tarzan author Edgar Rice Burroughs probably never imagined his hero performing such feats, and he didn't have film budgets to worry about. He only had the written word and his own imagination. For his part, Beattie feels that Hollywood had exhausted all the source material by the time he got his shot at it.
"It's mainly new stuff, because it's the kind of stuff that Edgar Rice Burroughs, I don't think, could have possibly imagined," Beattie said. "There's certainly nothing like it in the books, so I guess I can't really speak to what he was thinking when he wrote them, but it certainly raises it all up a notch to be like a big, fun summer movie."
Warner Brothers is in talks with The Mummy's Stephen Sommers to direct Beattie's Tarzan script.