Friday, January 1, 2010

Avatar: A Latter-Day Tarzan and Jane

It didn't occur to me until the drive home that "Avatar" is simply an updated, technologically-advanced and very expensive version of the 1934 "Tarzan and His Mate." And I like them both for the same reason: naked women running around the jungle.

OK, that last part is a joke, but the rest of it isn't--and even the joke is not a big joke. I like naked women in the jungle.

"Tarzan and His Mate" was the pre-Hayes Production Code version of Tarz and Johnny Weissmuller's and Maureen O'Sullivan's second pairing as Tarzan and Jane (the first in 1932's "Tarzan the Ape Man"). It was raw, adventurous on a number of levels (especially sexually, which the Hayes code banned in future episodes), badly acted and so much fun that people are still watching it regularly. Some of the animal footage in the movie was used in later Tarzan episodes (think alligator fight, elephant charge).

"Avatar" is the modern-day telling. This one, though has 10-foot-tall blue natives protecting their forest from intruders wanting some kind of valuable rock (the bad boys in Tarzan wanted ivory or gold, whichever turned up first) and threatening the very existence of the people and their forest.

Each features a heavy-handed, pro-environment message (yea!), comic book bad guys (boooo!) and the whiz-bang, little-boy technology of the day. Love it or hate it, you won't be bored by it, but, frankly, "Avatar" will not last nearly as long as "Tarzan and His Mate" has with "Avatar's" $150 million budget, state of the art technology and tall blue people. We're simply too jaded for it to have much of an impression beyond Christmas. Too bad.


  1. Nah, Dan, you got it wrong. It's not Tarzan-Jane, it's Fern Gully meets Dances with Wolves. See another review here:

  2. It's Disney's Pocohontas. See

  3. Totally agree- my reaction was Avatar=Tarzan and His Mate meet Ferngully. Yeah, Pocahontas, of course. Dances With Wolves, of course, but I'm pretty solid on Tarzan and His Mate being the primary source for this rather unimaginative re-tell.