Friday, December 14, 2012

Happy Birthday Lord Greystoke....

Its been a bittersweet year for the protean fantasy worlds of Edgar Rice Burroughs, "John Carter" (Warlord of Mars) tanked at the box office compelling a managerial shake up at Disney and consigning ERB's science fiction to bookshelves for the foreseeable future. A certain amount of stock taking is in order, but at the very least lets take a moment to celebrate the Century Anniversary of Burrough's greatest creation, Tarzan of the Apes! Ah but Tarzan was a marvelous creation, an English Aristocrats sense of duty married to an animal's ferocity and lust for freedom. Indeed how could the Ape Man miss? Unlike most of Edgar Rice Burroughs' other creations, Tarzan though a titled English Baronet AND "Lord of the Jungle" is not a conqueror per se. Once Tarzan emerges from the jungle to claim his hereditary birthright he settles down to ranch live in some fabled rainforest with his chosen mate Jane Porter. Tarzan "is" he does not "rule" any more than any other prowling predator rules over abd above the dictates of their animal instinct. That to me is what has given Tarzan his unique appeal down thru the years, he is Free and has the Strength and Character to maintain his freedom without recourse to brutality or mendacity. He speaks several languages (including the gutteral tongue of the Great Apes) and yet he holds all civilization as a very paltry thing indeed. Conquerors & tyrants are almost always Tarzan's mortal enemies...running some lost City founded by a lost Roman Legion on the up and up is NEVER on the Ape Man's agenda. Tarzan is in short, the ultimate escape fantasy...he is also very much rooted in the contemporary world even if his version of Africa may as well be another planet given the inconstant nature of Edgar Rice Burroughs' zoology. Still it's a milieu that needs little explanation and is accessible to everyone from Tarzan's mate Jane Porter to the usual motley collection of communists, film crews and absent minded scientists. Proof of the Ape Man's power lies in the fact that even as jungles and rainforests shrink...his power over the imagination crashes thru the tree tops unabated...And with the Broadway musical and the Disney ice show, the Ape Man has demonstrated unmatched popularity in almost ALL media outside the printed page. Let me close then with one of Edgar Rice Burrough's greatest descriptive quotes from the original "Tarzan of the Apes" "Mother Was a Lovely Beast..."

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