Tarzan Original and Limited Edition Art (1999)

In the late 1880s off the coast of Africa, a married couple and their infant son escape a burning ship, ending up on land near uncharted rainforests (presumably West Africa). The couple craft themselves a treehouse from their ship's wreckage, but are subsequently killed by Sabor, a rogue leopardess. Kala (Glenn Close), a gorilla whose own son was killed and eaten by the vicious leopardess, hears the cries of the orphaned infant, and finds him in the ruined treehouse where the parents' dead bodies lie in a dark corner. Kala takes a instant liking to the baby. Kala is attacked by Sabor, who wants to kill and eat the baby, but Kala manages to get her tangled in the ropes holding the derelict rowboat, and she and the baby escape.


The kindly Kala takes the baby back to the gorilla troop to raise as her own, despite her mate Kerchak's (Lance Henriksen) disapproval. Kala raises the human child, naming him Tarzan (Alex D. Linz as a young boy, Tony Goldwyn as a young adult). Though he befriends other gorillas in the troop and other animals, including the young female gorilla Terk (Rosie O'Donnell) and the paranoid male elephant Tantor (Wayne Knight), Tarzan finds himself unable to keep up with them, and takes great efforts to improve himself. As a young man, Tarzan is able to kill Sabor with his crude spear and protect the troop, earning Kerchak's reluctant respect.


The gorilla troop's peaceful life is interrupted by the arrival of a team of human explorers from England, consisting of Professor Porter (Nigel Hawthorne), his daughter Jane (Minnie Driver) and their hunter-guide Clayton (Brian Blessed). Jane is accidentally separated from the group and chased by a pack of baboons. Tarzan saves her from the baboons, and recognizes that she is the same as he is, a human. Jane leads Tarzan back to the explorer's camp, where both Porter and Clayton take great interest in him—the former in terms of scientific progress while the latter hoping to have Tarzan lead him to the gorillas so that he can capture them and return with them to England. Despite Kerchak's warnings to be wary of the humans, Tarzan continues to return to the camp and be taught by Porter, Clayton and Jane to speak English and learn of the human world, and both he and Jane begin to fall for each other. However, they are having a hard time convincing Tarzan to lead him to the gorillas, due to Tarzan's fear for their safety from the threat of Kerchak.


When the explorers' boat returns to pick them up, Clayton tells Tarzan that if he shows the group the gorillas, then Jane will stay with him forever. Tarzan agrees and leads the party to the gorilla troop's home, while Terk and Tantor lure Kerchak away to avoid having him attack the humans. Porter and Jane are excited to mingle with the gorillas, but Kerchak returns and threatens to kill them. Kerchak heads directly towards Clayton but Tarzan is forced to hold Kerchak at bay while the humans escape, and then leaves the troop himself, now alienated by his actions. Kala takes Tarzan back to the treehouse she found him in, and shows him his true past.


She encourages him to follow his heart, and leave with Jane, Clayton and Professor Porter (although it will break her heart to see him go). When they return to the ship, they are ambushed by pirates. It is then revealed that Clayton desires to capture and sell the gorillas in England for a fine price. Tarzan and the others are locked up in the hull of the ship, but are rescued by Terk and Tantor and race back to the gorilla home.


Clayton and his men arrive back in the jungle and capture the gorillas. Kerchak and Tarzan together battle Clayton; Kerchak is fatally shot, while Clayton chases Tarzan into the vine-covered trees, where Tarzan gets the drop on him, destroying Clayton's gun. Clayton, in his haste to kill Tarzan, ignores his warning about the vine wrapped around his neck, and once Clayton cuts the vine holding him up, he and Tarzan fall, but while Tarzan lands safely, Clayton is killed when the vine snaps his neck leaving him hanged. Kerchak, in his dying breath, accepts Tarzan as his own adopted son finally, and names him the leader of the gorilla troop. The rest of the gorillas (including Kala) are freed by Jane, Professor Porter, Terk and Tantor, and some other of Tarzan's miscellaneous animal friends (baboons, rhinos etc.), after fighting and/or scaring away the rest of Clayton's men, imprisoning them in the very same cages they planned to imprison the gorillas in.


The next day, as Porter and Jane prepare to leave on the ship, Tarzan reveals that he now plans to stay with the gorilla troop. As the ship leaves shore, Porter encourages his daughter to stay with the man she loves, and Jane jumps overboard to return to shore; Porter shortly follows her. The two are accepted into the gorilla troop where, as the song says, they are all finally "Two Worlds, One Family". 

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Original Concept Drawing

Original Concept Art

  • Tarzan Baby Tarzan Holding Kala’s Hand Original Concept Art Mixed Media on Board by John Alvin

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