If there is one word to summarise the essential message of this Tarzan movie, it could well be anti-speciesism… or anti-racism, or anti-discrimination. (Case 1) Due to misunderstanding of the unfamiliar in ‘his’ territory, a ferocious ape killed Tarzan’s father when Tarzan was still an infant. (Case 2) His father too misunderstood the ape to be after his baby, hence his antagonistic fear. (Case 3) Tarzan was adopted by another ape, while facing some frowns by the other apes at first. Being conditioned afresh from young however, Tarzan grew up at peace with his new family.
As an adult though, Tarzan experienced racism among men. (Case 4) White men sought to enslave and exploit African natives and animals, which led the locals to detest the intruders. (Case 5) Tarzan was mistaken as an evil spirit who lived among the trees – before he stood up as the intermediary peacemaker between men and beasts. With his unique empathy and understanding for both sides, his humanity extended beyond humans, to his immeasurably big family of animals. He was the hero as he was the only capable arbitrator, not just as Lord Greystoke, but as lord of the apes too.
(Case 6) While Tarzan was initially suspiciously regarded by men and animals alike for his ‘naturalistic’ yet cultured qualities, he demonstrated the larger significance of what it means to be civilised. Though with his legendary ululating call of the wild to the wild, he never lorded over nature, seeing nature as the true lord. This contrasted with the troublemaking mercenaries who only sought to control, slashing and killing if ‘needed’ to feed their greed. (Case 7) Back to the origin of all Tarzan tales, it has always been about the potential humanity of animals versus the potential inhumanity of humans. This is why Tarzan continues to fascinate, warn and inspire!