10 Things You Didn’t Know About Tarzan

When Walt Disney Animation Studios brought the world of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ famous novel, Tarzan of the Apes, to life in 1999, we instantly fell in love with Phil Collins’ and Mark Mancina’s catchy songs, the talented voice acting, and the innovative animation techniques that were brought to the table. The film was vibrant, fun, and most importantly, a magical movie we’ll never forget. To celebrate our admiration for it, we’ve compiled an exciting list of things you might not have known about Tarzan. Enjoy!

1. It took three years for animators to come up with the opening sequence.

Tarzan Family Intro

Before settling on the version we see in the film, filmmakers spent three years deciding how they wanted it to start. While one version began with the gorillas in the jungle, another left out Tarzan’s arrival by boat all together.


2. Rosie O’Donnell also provides the voice for baby Terk.

Tarzan and Baby Terk

In addition to providing the adult voice for Tarzan’s best friend Terk, O’Donnell lent her voice to the baby version. After none of the children who auditioned for the role were able to match the famous actress’ sassy attitude, they decided to stick with her and tweak the pitch of her voice.


3. The film’s third act was almost entirely different.

Tarzan and Jane Movie Ending

In one of the earlier treatments of the script, Tarzan was actually going to leave the jungle and go to England—which is something that happens in the book. But, ultimately, directors Chris Buck and Kevin Lima decided that it would be better if Tarzan stayed with his family.


4. Phil Collins wrote the bulk of “You’ll Be in My Heart” while he was at a Christmas party.

Tarzan and Kala You'll Be In My Heart

While playing the piano at a neighbor’s house over the holidays, Collins wrote down the chords and melody for the emotional song on the back of some wrapping paper so he wouldn’t forget. Afterwards, he recorded a quick demo and sent it off to filmmakers.


5. The baboon chase sequence was one of the first scenes to be storyboarded.

Tarzan Baboon Chase

The scene was also pretty complex. In fact, a unique animation technique called “Deep Canvas” (which was used for that sequence) was created specifically for the film. Basically, it allows a 2D character to move freely through a 3D generated environment. The end result is simply stunning.


6. Glen Keane supervised adult Tarzan’s animation from Paris.

Tarzan and Jane With Birds

After supervising the animation of several characters (including Beast, Ariel, Aladdin, and Pocahontas) the Disney veteran agreed to supervising Tarzan as an adult as long as he could remain in Paris (where he was on a one year sabbatical to study sculpture). He worked out of Disney’s Animation Studios in Paris. That means Tarzan and Jane were animated in completely different countries!


7. In an earlier version of the script, Tantor was an adult when Tarzan met him.

Tarzan Meets Tantor

Eventually, filmmakers decided to make the elephant a kid, like Terk and Tarzan. He was voiced by a 4-year-old actor, who at the time had to have the lines read to him, because he hadn’t yet learned to read.


8. Phil Collins did all of the percussion sounds in “Trashin’ the Camp.”


The songwriter recalled going around the studio and banging things with his hands (and sticks), breaking cups, and even hitting himself in the forehead to produce the sounds heard in the sequence.


9. Keane drew inspiration for Tarzan’s “tree surfing” from his 15-year-old son.

Tarzan Tree Surfing

In addition to pulling from the source material, Keane recalls being inspired by his son, who had been into watching extreme sports, and skateboarding/rollerblading with his friends at the time. With the help of the new “Deep Canvas” technique, Keane played with the notion of Tarzan “surfing through the trees.” That idea made it to the final version of the film in the “Son of Man” sequence.


10. The hand-to-hand motif was inspired by Keane’s personal life.

Tarzan and Jane Hand to Hand

According to Keane, the motif explored several times throughout the film (with both Kala and Jane) was inspired by the first time he held his daughter after she was born, and the “remarkable deep connection” he felt at recognizing himself in her. He wanted Tarzan to experience that same sense of recognition. He came up with the idea to have Tarzan’s hand flatten out as he touched Jane’s, and sketched it while he was riding in a taxi.


What was your favorite fact? Let us know in the comments!

Posted 6 years Ago
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