Craig Brewer Says He's Sensitive To The Racist Elements Of The "Tarzan" Story He's Adapting

by Tambay A. Obenson
June 10, 2011 8:19 AM
9 Comments
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Talking to Collider about all his upcoming projects, including the Tarzan reboot I've mentioned twice on this site, Hustle & Flow/Black Snake Moan director, Craig Brewer had this to say, with regards to the sensitive, potential explosive racial nature of the material... “I don’t want to give too much away of what I’m doing, but that is something I have thought about, and something I am addressing, and I can just say that “Tarzan” is a love story really, the movie I want to tell, that’s on the backdrop of this adventure, where Tarzan has to reconnect to his love, Jane, and to Africa itself. I know there’s probably going to be some concerns, in terms of racial attitudes toward the original films, and towards the books, but it’s territory that I’ve been in before… I don’t want to say I’m comfortable in it, because I think it’s best to stay a little uncomfortable, and be mindful of things that need to be sensitive, but I think it’s important to tell a great story from one of the most famous literary characters of all time.

So far, you folks really haven't had much reaction to my posts on the news of Brewer's deal to reboot Tarzan for the big screen in a trilogy of films. No interest I guess? I figured you'll be all up in arms about it, given the subject matter as well as the racist and imperialist elements within it. Just when I thought I had you all figured out :)

But seriously... maybe this will elicit some kind of a response... maybe not.

As I've already said... I'm cautiously curious about how exactly a studio-backed, live-action, big-budgeted contemporary Tarzan movie would play out... a trio of them actually. Based on the above quote, it appears Brewer might be sticking to the original Edgar Rice Burroughs story, which had our man raised in the "Jungles of Africa," among the "great apes," after his British parents are marooned on the West coast of the continent by mutineers...

Will Brewer have him leaping and swinging from tree branches like the apes, bellowing in the process? Or, since it's a contemporary version, maybe he'll be raised by African parents (not apes), and the story will center on an identity struggle.

*shrug*

Any ideas...

[Collider] via [The Playlist]

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9 Comments

  • CareyCarey | June 12, 2011 4:55 AMReply

    I don’t believe I’d be wrong if I suggested that most movies, if not to a large degree, every movie’s success weighs heavily on the writer/script. Now, in reference to this director’s past projects, Hustle & Flow and Black Snake Moan, I don’t know exactly how much input he had in the writing/script. More importantly, I also have to look at the core elements of those projects to determine how much the director’s influence/input played into the success or failure of said projects. And then, there is another basic issue that always seems to make or break a movie... who or what is the target audience?

    Hustle & Flow: The movie (imo) was carried by great acting and a storyline that played right into the groove zone of a vast majority of today’s youth. There was rapping & hustling, and a storyline of the young struggling black women, competing for the love of a man. ... it’s signed, sealed and delivered.

    Like “Dream Girls“, music, baby momma drama, and a great cast, carried Hustle & Flow. The director’s input... ah... I don’t know?

    Black Snake Moan: I have to say there was some things I liked about that movie, but again, I question the director’s input.... the good, the bad and the ugly. Who saw Black Snake Moan and Samuel Jackson’s performance? Should we jump for joy or slap the director?

    Tarzan: The good, the bad and the horribly ugly. Ut Oh, who’s the target audience and what’s Tarzan’s story.

    Greystrokes had a little something going on but as the movie progressed it turned into Stupid Ville with a lot of stupid white folks. That movie blew it big time. Then there’s the always present issue of Tarzan’s naked ass, jacking’ with them po old dumb natives. I mean, that could be a good thang for some folks. That plays right into the heart of many Americans, including, apparently, some black women.

    In short, I am reminded of an old Looney Tunes cartoon in which a large dog ( think this director) wants to prove that he should be allowed to be part of the group used for the hunt. In trying to prove his ability as a hunting dog (good film director), he goes out alone in search of a fox. He finds a fox who tells him that his name is George and convinces him that he (George) is not a fox but assures the dog that he has seen a fox and will help him find it–hence the phrase, Which way did he go, George.

    Check out the following 4 second clip. Which way will Craig Brewer go?


    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bs-Q0JmWjj0

  • andre robinson | June 12, 2011 2:59 AMReply

    ...sides...i liked hustle and flow...it's a trend
    next spike lee's sword in the stone...?

  • andre robinson | June 12, 2011 2:20 AMReply

    tarzan? really? again...?
    there are racist elements to so many stories that after awhile we all can become a bit desensitized. they hear 'legend', and we hear...sos. how many robin hood/richard the lionheart/john smith/rocky/james bond/superwhiteboy stories do we have to have before you know that we get it...you have all the agency in the world and me, gunga din and all the magic negroes will keep sitting back to let you lead us of of trouble and into the light...unless...

  • artbizzy | June 11, 2011 12:31 PMReply

    Wow, this should also be tagged under WTF. The director of "Black Snake Moan" (ugh) is now directing, Tarzan? Really? Wow.

  • Miles Ellison | June 11, 2011 6:16 AMReply

    What's next, a "more sensitive" reboot of other classic racist trash like Gone With The Wind and Birth of a Nation?

  • AccidentalVisitor | June 11, 2011 1:47 AMReply

    {{{ Until there’s more details on this manifestation, I don’t feel compelled to scream foul just yet. I do think there’s no point retelling this story so soon after Greystoke }}}

    So soon? Didn't Greystoke come out in the mid 80s? Compared to the short passage of time Hollywood waits before they reboot franchises these days, that is an eternity. Although I too don't care to see another Tarzan film either, I do feel that Brewer will handle the African roles much better than the writers/directors that came before him. He could hardly do any worse.

  • JMac | June 11, 2011 1:30 AMReply

    No interest here either but for different reasons. As far as I'm concerned Greystoke was the best Tarzan movie but then 90% of the story line occurred in Britain. I don't even think they had any black people in it - spear chuckers or otherwise. Was a great identity struggle flick. The Sheena movie I mentioned in another post had the white "queen of the jungle" raised by an African tribe... I think. Been so long since I've seen it and I don't want to cheat by googling. Despite the title, she wasn't the queen of the tribe - just had some telepathic powers over animals I believe she acquired from the black lady shaman who raised her. I watched both films more than a couple of times which makes me think there were no racist elements in it - not to the point I'd put them in my ish pile and refuse to ever watch them again. I still think Sheena should've been black - not some pretty half naked blond white chick with no tan.

    Until there's more details on this manifestation, I don't feel compelled to scream foul just yet. I do think there's no point retelling this story so soon after Greystoke - I doubt it'll be half as good. Might check it out when it hits netflix.

  • Vanessa | June 10, 2011 12:37 PMReply

    I agree with T"Challa.

  • T'Challa | June 10, 2011 10:09 AMReply

    No interest bro, the idea behind the character is racist, imperialist etc, and as such I won't be watching it, no matter how "sensitive" the director plans to be. But no "outrage" from me as it's Hollywood, I expect it. They could care less if a mainstream movie is offensive to Black audiences, (see Transformers racist robots).

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