The shift in editing over to pages for the movies, characters, actors, directors, composers, crew and galleries is now fully in effect. More details are available in the progress report.

For those who are new and are wondering about why this was necessary, read the shift in editing starting March 1st blog.



Tarzan is a 1999 American animated film produced by Walt Disney Feature Animation and released by Walt Disney Pictures on June 18, 1999. The 37th film in the Disney animated features canon, it is based upon the Tarzan of the Apes series of novels by Edgar Rice Burroughs, and is the only major motion picture version of the Tarzan property to be animated. It is also the last "bona fide" hit before the Disney slump of the early 1990s making $171,091,819 in the domestic gross.

Plot summary

Sometime in the 1900s off the coast of Africa, a father, his wife, and infant son escape a burning ship and arrive in the unexplored jungles of Africa, where they build themselves a treehouse in which to live ("Two Worlds"). Meanwhile, a gorilla couple named Kala (voiced by Glenn Close) and Kerchak (voiced by Lance Henriksen) lose their son to a leopard named Sabor. As they move to another nest area, Kala hears an infant crying and follows it back to the treehouse. She investigates the treehouse and discovers that it is ransacked and the parents of the baby dead. As she looks around the treehouse, she notices a trail of large, bloody cat-like pawprints marked across the floor. Frightened, she rears back and finds a recent photograph of the family together. Kala hears more infantile crying and finds the human baby in an overturned basket. Immediately reminded of her own lost child, Kala feels remorse for the baby boy. Suddenly Sabor appears out of nowhere, hungry for human flesh. After a short chase, Kala and the baby escape the treehouse and run into the jungle to rejoin the gorillas. Upon arriving, Kala's mate Kerchak, also the leader of the gorillas, does not like the baby because he is human. Kerchak orders Kala to abandon the child, but Kala protests. Kerchak sympathizes with Kala and allows her to keep the boy, but he makes it clear that the child is hers and not his. Kala names the child Tarzan and treats him as one of her own ("You'll Be in My Heart").

As time passes, Young Tarzan (voiced by Alex D. Linz), now ten years old, tries to fit in with the other gorillas ("Son of Man"). He makes friends with a female gorilla named Terk (voiced by Rosie O'Donnell) and an elephant named Tantor (voiced by Wayne Knight). 8 Years later, Tarzan (now voiced by Tony Goldwyn) grows up into an adult and is attacked by Sabor the leopard. Tarzan kills Sabor and earns the respect of Kerchak. Suddenly a gunshot is heard from far away. As the gorillas leave, Tarzan follows the sound and sees three humans: Professor Porter (voiced by Nigel Hawthorne), his daughter Jane (voiced by Madeline Kahn), and their hunter guide Clayton (voiced by Brian Blessed). Tarzan saves Jane from some angry baboons and tries to communicate with her as he can't speak English. Meanwhile, Terk, Tantor, and some of their gorilla friends stumble upon the campsite of the Jane, Professor Porter, and Clayton. Mesmerized by the many strange human objects, the gorillas begin to destroy the entire camp ("Trashin' the Camp"). Tarzan and Jane return to the camp and find it ransacked by Tarzan's friends. After some introductions, Kerchak angrily appears. Tarzan and the gorillas leave and Professor Porter and Clayton arrive.

Back in the jungle, Kerchak instructs the gorillas to stay away from the strangers. Tarzan protests, saying that the humans are not dangerous, but Kerchak is unwilling to believe him. Kala tries to make Tarzan understand the danger, but instead Tarzan angrily asks her why she never told him that there were others who look like him.

After some time, Tarzan secretly returns to the camp and is introduced to Professor Porter and Clayton. Together, the three teach Tarzan about the human world ("Strangers Like Me"). Repeatedly Tarzan is asked about the whereabouts of the gorillas, but he is unwilling to disclose their location because of Kerchak. One day while returning to the campsite, Tarzan sees everything being packed up. He asks Jane what is happening, and she tells him that a boat has come to take the three back to England. Tarzan does not understand why Jane has to leave, but Clayton explains that if he leads them to the gorillas they would not have to leave. Tarzan leads them to Kala and Terk, but Kerchak appears and is hostile to Tarzan and his company. As the others flee, Tarzan scolds Kerchak and he angrily flees. Kala senses the sorrow in Tarzan and decides to show him the treehouse where she found him. There Tarzan finds the picture of his mother, father, and himself as a baby. Now knowing where he must go, Tarzan puts on his father's old formal suit and joins up with Jane, who has become infatuated with him. They board a ship only to find the crew captured by some thugs. Clayton reveals that he wanted to find the apes and capture them in order to sell them in England. He locks Tarzan, Jane, Professor Porter and the crew into the hold and goes back to shore. Terk and Tantor rescue Tarzan and the others and they go off to stop Clayton.

The gorillas are attacked by Clayton and his gang and one by one they're rounded up. Kerchak is mortally wounded by Clayton's rifle but Tarzan interferes. As Jane, Professor Porter, Terk and Tantor free the gorillas and lock up the thugs, Tarzan and Clayton fight amongst the trees. Tarzan throws some vines at Clayton, entangling him. He starts cutting the vines with his machete and Tarzan sees one of the vines wrapping around Clayton's neck. He tries to warn the hunter but Clayton cuts the last vine and plummets to the floor, resulting in a death by hanging. A dying Kerchak apologizes to Tarzan for doubting him and makes him leader of the gorillas.

Tarzan says goodbye to Jane and Professor Porter as they board the ship, but Jane decides that she loves him and returns, later followed by Professor Porter.

Major changes from book to film

The film is based on Tarzan of the Apes (1920) an adventure novel by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Changes from book to movie include:

  • Kala, Tarzan's adoptive mother, lives.
  • The apes, called "Great Apes" in the novel, are gorillas in the film. In the book, gorillas are enemies of the great apes.
  • Clayton is changed from a basically sympathetic but flawed character to an irredeemable villain.
  • Tarzan's parents, marooned in the novel, are shipwrecked in the movie.
  • Tarzan's main antagonists are lions in the book, leopards in the film. This in fact is more realistic and accurate: Leopards are the main predators of the African forest (where the story takes place), while lions are denizens of the plains.
  • In the book, Tarzan's human mother dies of natural causes while his father is killed shortly afterward by Kerchak; baby Tarzan is saved from Kerchak when Kala seizes the infant and flees. In the film, a leopard is responsible for the deaths of both of Tarzan's human parents, and Kala exhibits amazing heroism to save baby Tarzan from the predator.
  • In the book Tarzan kills Kerchak in a battle for supremacy over the apes. In the movie Kerchak is shot by Clayton.
  • A male Great Ape named Terkoz, Tarzan's enemy in the book, becomes Terk, a female gorilla, Tarzan's best friend, in the movie.
  • Native African humans, who play a major role in the book, are absent from the movie.
  • In the original novel, Jane is originally from Baltimore, Maryland, not England.
  • long ago is madagascar following hero of the jungle humans getting there service  
  • afraid jane took of a baby

Spoilers end here.

Voice Cast

Actor Role(s)
Tony Goldwyn Tarzan
Minnie Driver Jane Porter
Rosie O'Donnell Terk
Glenn Close Kala
Brian Blessed Clayton
Lance Henriksen Kerchak
Wayne Knight Tantor
Nigel Hawthorne Archimedes Porter
Alex D. Linz Young Tarzan
Erik von Detten Flynt
Jason Marsden Mungo
Frank Welker Sabor


The songs for the film were written and performed by the English Rock band, Genesis.

  • Two Worlds
  • You'll Be in My Heart - (featuring Glenn Close)
  • Son of Man
  • Trashin' the Camp - (featuring Rosie O'Donnell)
  • Strangers Like Me

Deep Canvas

To create the sweeping 3D backgrounds, Tarzan's production team developed a 3D painting and rendering technique known as Deep Canvas. This technique allows artists to produce CGI background that looks like a traditional painting. For this advancement, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences awarded the creators of Deep Canvas a Technical Achievement Award in 2000.

After Tarzan, Deep Canvas was used for a number of sequences in Atlantis: The Lost Empire, particularly large panoramic shots of the island and several action sequences.

Expanded to support moving objects as part of the background, Deep Canvas was utilized to create about 75% of the environments in Disney's next major animated action film, Treasure Planet, though the results were less stunning, due to the film's tighter painting style which could have been accomplished without such advanced software. Deep Canvas was designed to accomplish a very loose, brushstroke-based style without hard edges, but Treasure Planet's backgrounds were more hard-edged and clean.

Deep Canvas was finally used in a more natural setting in restrained doses for Disney's last two traditionally animated theatrical releases, Brother Bear and Home on the Range.

An advanced version of Deep Canvas technique was originally planned to be used in The Wizard of Oz, a Disney animated feature which features bluegrass music. However, since the project was cancelled, it is unknown if Deep Canvas will be used on any of the new projects given the Disney/Touchstone merger and the software Disney will have acquired as a result.

External links