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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes [Blu-ray]


(Hugh Hudson, 1984)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Warner Bros.

Video: Warner Home Video



Region: FREE! (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 2:17:00.253

Disc Size: 45,041,483,014 bytes

Feature Size: 44,211,290,112 bytes

Video Bitrate: 34.71 Mbps

Chapters: 37

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: July 16th, 2013



Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 4313 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 4313 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Commentary: DTS-HD Master Audio English 1639 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1639 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)



English (SDH), none



• Commentary by Hugh Hudson and Associate Producer Garth Thomas

• Trailer (1:29)





Description: Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes is a reverent retelling of the Edgar Rice Burroughs original, with a 1980s-sensibilities slant. Shipwrecked on the coast of Africa, Lord Jack Clayton (Paul Geoffrey) and his pregnant wife Lady Alice (Cheryl Campbell) attempt to survive in the hostile environment, but both die shortly after the birth of their son John. Abandoned in the wilderness, the orphaned John is adopted by a family of rather highly evolved apes, and raised as one of their own. Years later, John-now known as Tarzan, and now played by Christopher Lambert-comes across a party of white hunters. Rescuing one of the intruders, Belgian Captain Phillipe D'Arnot (Ian Holm) from a horrible death , Tarzan is taught to speak English by the grateful D'Arnot. Coming across the remains and possessions of Tarzan's parents, D'Arnot discovers that the Lord of the Jungle is actually the Earl of Greystoke. Brought back to England, Tarzan is introduced to society, where his crude, apelike manners offend everyone--except the likeable (and painfully senile) 6th Lord of Greystoke (Ralph Richardson, in his final film role) and Greystoke's American ward, Jane Porter (Andie McDowell, whose Southern-fried voice is dubbed by Glenn Close). Disturbed at the notion of Tarzan's inheriting Greystoke manner, his more greedy relatives begin plotting against him. But it is Tarzan himself who decides that he cannot adapt himself to England-especially after a painful reunion with his ape foster father, imprisoned in a science-lab cage.



The Film:

What would it be like for a lost child of the British aristocracy to be reared by apes in the African jungle? Cue for some skillfully handled action and a vivid realisation of the ape community in which a man eventually becomes boss-cat. The film changes gear when our hero returns to Edwardian Britain and his ancestral home, Greystoke. Torn between two cultures, confused by his love for Jane, desolated by the loss of his grandfather (man) and his father (ape), he undergoes...culture schlock. It is here that Greystoke pops its valves, pushing a simple yarn to the point of philosophical overload. Rhetoric apart, the film offers some stirring entertainment, and a memorable ham sandwich from Richardson, allowed to steal the show as the grandfather in what proved to be his last film.

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE

Director Hudson also elicited superior performances from the many apes on view in Greystoke, all of whom (except for a few baby chimps) were played by humans. Early on in preproduction, it was decided to have actors play the ape society because of the many specific actions required, as well as for safety concerns. American makeup artist Rick Baker was the logical choice to realize the many apes required. Baker had created any number of werewolves, aliens, melting men, and old-age makeups for movies since the early 1970s, and his previous ape-related jobs included Schlock (1973), Dino De Laurentiis' King Kong (1976), and the incredibly expressive "Sidney" in The Incredible Shrinking Woman (1981). For Greystoke, Baker relocated to England for a year, setting up his workshop in Stage 5 of the EMI Elstree Studios. With a fifty-person crew, along with another forty wigmakers, Baker's workshop became an ape-suit factory able to turn out numerous finished suits in assembly-line fashion, each taking about eight weeks total. The suits were far from identical, however, because the requirements of the script dictated that several of the apes had to be distinguishable as characters, and, in a few cases, even age over time. Baker said (in Cinefex magazine, issue 16 - April 1984), "We went for a fictitious kind of ape - not a chimp and not a gorilla, but some lean more in one direction or the other. That's what was fun. I could draw what I liked from different apes and combine them according to what seemed to fit the character. Kala, Tarzan's ape-mother, is more like a chimp, though her ears are smaller. White Eyes, a mean one, is closer to a gorilla. Figs, a big fat one, has a lot of orang in him."

Excerpt from TCM located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes advances significantly on Blu-ray from Warner's previous flipper DVD. The film has some subtle textures that are picked-up far more efficiently by the higher resolution.  The SD version could look fairly soft at times and this new 1080P, dual-layered transfer (for the 2 1/4 hour film) with a max'ed out bitrate rises in every visual area. Colors are richer, detail is sharper and there are many instances of depth. Did this Blu-ray expose the 'ape-suit' effects? I wouldn't say so - the millions that went into the creation of the jungle primate sequences (remember this was before CGI) still looks impressive and there is some vivid cinematography that definitely benefits from the HD rendering. The image quality is thick and film-like frequently appearing highly pleasing.


















Audio :

The audio is transferred via a very strong DTS-HD Master 5.1 surround at a power-packing 4313 kbps. Unfortunately, I didn't find most of the separations very crisp but there is certainly some, impressive, depth in the effects. The score is by John Scott who, in his career, had composed for restored silents like the 1920 Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde as well as Ted Kotcheff's classic Wake in Fright, Cop-Out, and Cult Camp Classics like 1970's Trog with Joan Crawford. It sounds subtle and supportive especially in the transition from the jungle to civilization. There are optional English subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.


Extras :

The supplements include the strong commentary from Hudson and producer Thomas as found on the old DVD. I listened again - it is still good as there is so much to talk about in terms of production being such an expensive film. Other than that there is only a trailer.



I had forgotten why I enjoyed Greystoke; The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes so much. Simply watching it again sparked my memory. I loved the books as a youth and this is closest representation, to my knowledge, of all the films made. This is infinitely superior to its 'flipper' SD counterpart and a fascinating film to have on Blu-ray in my opinion. I'm going to be showing it to my sons. Recommended! 

Gary Tooze

January 28th, 2014


About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
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Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

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Gary W. Tooze






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