Movie review: The banality of the Legend of Tarzan
Posted on June 26, 2019
There is a certain banality of what is right and wrong, while it is simple to say that someone just doing a job must be evil when that job involves the harm of others, perhaps it is not as simple as that person is good and that person is bad.
The Legend of Tarzan is based on the character created by Edgar Rice Burroughs, played by Alexander Skarsgård, and Directed by David Yates. We meet Tarzan living in England going by his birth name Lord John Clayton, shunning his legacy for a better life. Now John Clayton is being asked to return that old life that he left behind. While the movie was an ambitious one by walking the tightrope of recognising the old tropes of Tarzan and carefully retelling the myths in a more contemporary and acceptable story the movie falls short of the mark.
The Legend of Tarzan seemed to have missed the mark of the philosophical question that it was trying to ask. What happens when good people do nothing, well there are consequences? These are the types of consequences that tear John (Tarzan? They really tried not to call him that so I’ll just stick to calling him John) away from his new life. Consequences of his past come back to haunt him and put his wife Jane in direct danger, the type of danger that John was afraid would happen if Jane went with him, see consequences.
Now John is on the pursuit to save his wife from the clutches of the man who orchestrated the series of events to bring John face-to-face with a mistake from his past. A mistake that John describes as doing so because at that time he had no honour, hard to have honour living with beasts, thank god he now lives the good life, oh wait, the good life involves the same people who are bent on taking over the continent.
There was a scene where Tarzan takes out a train of soldiers, until one of the men appears to be more important than the soldiers and they ask him what his role in all this was and his response was “I am just an engineer” maybe he is a good person and just an engineer but he still has a role to play in the events that wipes out people and stunts the growth of a continent.
Political theorist Hannah Arendt wrote reports on Adolf Eichmann’s trial for The New Yorker, which later became the bases for the book, The Banality of Evil. Arendt found Eichmann an ordinary, rather bland, bureaucrat, who in her words, was ‘neither perverted nor sadistic’, but ‘terrifyingly normal’. He acted without any motive other than to diligently advance his career in the Nazi bureaucracy”, a good person who just did their job.
When to come to the culmination of the film’s end John has the opportunity to spare the life of the man who had caused strife with his wife, cause harm to John’s friends, and family looking to destroy the place that he called home, for diamonds. John knows better now because he is not Tarzan anymore, he has learned that there are consequences, consequences that had pulled him back from his new life to his old, from John he is now reborn Tarzan; he can’t stand by and do nothing.